Calgary’s Kaiya Ruiter, 16, competes in World Junior Figure Skating Championships

Kaiya Ruiter will be skating at the World Junior Figure Skating Championships from February 27th to March 5th.  (Danielle Earl/Skate Canada - photo credit)

Kaiya Ruiter will be skating at the World Junior Figure Skating Championships from February 27th to March 5th. (Danielle Earl/Skate Canada – photo credit)

In November 2021, Calgary figure skater Kaiya Ruiter suffered a devastating injury.

Her skates got tangled in the middle of a practice jump, she said, and she ended up falling on the blade of her skate.

It tore through her calf muscles. But more than pain, said Ruiter, 16, she felt disappointment.

“Especially after the pandemic, when I just wanted to get on the ice and then have to get off the ice was just so frustrating,” she said in an interview with The home track.

“It’s been a struggle, but I’m just so proud of where I am now… I’m just so happy to be back on the ice.”

Since her return, she has won a senior silver medal at the national skating championships in January and a silver medal in her international debut in Austria in November.

Now she is the only Canadian competitor to skate in the women’s category at the World Junior Figure Skating Championships, taking place February 27-March 5 at WinSport. She is also the only Albertan to compete.

CLOCK | Kaiya Ruiter performing at the National Skating Championships in January:

Scott Davis, Ruiter’s coach, said she is the most dedicated athlete he’s ever worked with in his 20 years as a coach. By her early teens, she had already mastered all of her triple jumps, he said, and kept evolving.

“I’ve never seen anyone have that drive and that passion for the sport and also that self-motivation, which is amazing,” he said.

“I’m very happy for them to have another opportunity to compete on the world stage, including here in Calgary.”

Although Ruiter will do her best to get a good result, she said she is focused on enjoying the moment and improving on her personal best.

She said she is proud to represent Canada.

“It’s the greatest honor imaginable,” Ruiter said.

“I mean, wearing the maple leaf and being on that ice, representing my family and my city and my country, my province, everything. There is no greater prize.”

‘The sky is the limit’

As the event draws closer, Ruiter will continue to prepare, including conditioning on and off the ice.

The event features the world’s best junior figure skaters aged between 13 and 19, competing in the men’s, women’s, pairs and ice dance categories. (Male couples and ice dancing may be under 21.)

LISTEN: Kaiya Ruiter describes what it’s like to compete in the junior competition:

The number of spots in each category, one to three, depends on how well a country performed in the competition the previous year, Davis said.

“Probably in the back of her mind she wants to do well so Canada can earn a few more spots next year,” he said. “But ultimately it’s more about her just going out and enjoying … all the work and dedication that she’s put in over the past few years.”

After her injury, Ruiter said she was mentally ready to get back on the ice immediately. But it took me some time to get through the physical therapy and rehabilitation. She also lost in some major competitions.

But it has all made her more determined to take advantage of any opportunities that arise, including her silver medal performances over the past few months.

Danielle Earl/Skate Canada

Danielle Earl/Skate Canada

“It’s really inspired me to just keep working and building my program further so I can hopefully set another personal best at these championships,” she said.

“I love performing and I just love the freedom of being out there all by myself and the warm feeling of being out there putting on a show.”

Davis said it’s a welcome boost to have friends and family cheering on Ruiter from the stands when she competes in front of her home crowd next week.

As for Ruiter’s future, he said anything is possible.

“The sky’s the limit with her work ethic, dedication and talent.”


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