At the 2009 Canadian Nationals, the biggest surprise was Kate Charbonneau’s gold medal performance in the junior ladies. Charbonneau had never competed in Canada before last season.
“She was completely unknown,” said coach Robert Tebby. “Kate was born in Winnipeg but moved to Minnesota when she was five. She’s been training at Mariposa in the summers since she was eight or nine.”
“Kate was invited to do a North American Challenge Skate a few years ago to compete for the United States,” Tebby said. “I told her not to do it because of all the paperwork she’d have to do to compete for Canada later, but then she busted an ankle, so it wasn’t an issue. I wanted her to compete just in the United States for a few years to toughen her up.”
“I started skating when I was three because my Mom, Lorie, is a coach,” Charbonneau recalled. “She trains me in Minnesota, but I love coming to Mariposa. They have really good coaches like nowhere else in the world.”
Charbonneau landed her first triple toe loop at the age of 12. In her short program, she is using a triple Lutz-double toe loop combination, triple flip and double Axel. In her long program, she has a triple toe-double toe and triple Salchow-double toe combinations, triple Lutz, triple flip, triple Salchow, triple toe loop and double Axel.
“I’m really close to getting my triple toe-triple toe,” Charbonneau noted. “I landed it once before. I’ve tried a couple of triple Axels by myself.”
“Kate’s awesome at jumps, spins, footwork, the whole package,” said Tebby.
The 16-year-old trains for four hours a day on ice and two hours off ice during the week, two hours on ice on Saturdays, and two hours off ice on Sunday. “I do a lot of Pilates,” she noted.
Shae-Lynn Bourne choreographed Charbonneau’s short program for the 2009-10 season to “Malaguena”. “My Mom and I picked the music,” Charbonneau said. “I thought it was fiery music and I enjoy skating to it.”
Kelly Grelle choreographed the free skate to “Scheherazade”. “Some skaters at our rink had used it before and Kelly thought it would be really good for me,” Charbonneau said.
“Actually my favorite music is ‘Firebird’,” she admitted. “I’ve skated to that twice.”
Off ice, she said, “I love country music but listen to a little bit of everything.”
To relax, Charbonneau said, “I like to run in the woods with my border collie and I read a lot of Harry Potter books. My best friend won the novice ladies in the U. S. and she lives close to me. I bike to her house and we go to the beach or watch movies and do other stuff.”
“I used to play softball and soccer and do gymnastics but I didn’t like them as much as skating,” she said. “I still play some tennis for fun.”
Charbonneau is in the eleventh grade taking classes through an online public school. “I like English and I like to write, but I don’t know what I want to do for a job,” she said.
She will open the season by competing in the ISU Junior Grand Prix in Poland. “That will be my first international and my first trip to Europe,” she said. “Everyone in my whole family but me has been there.”
“I’ll be competing in seniors at Canadians,” Charbonneau stated. “I’ve wanted to make Canada’s 2010 Olympic team since I was seven. I always wanted to skate for Canada.”
“When I’m skating, it’s just like freedom, ” she added. “It’s what I love.”
— Photos by Brett Barden