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Monday, April 15, 2024
NOTL figure skater overcomes injury to claim incredible season
NOTL Skating Club member Hailey Mitchell (left) stands proud on the podium after capturing silver at the 2024 Skate Ontario Provincial Championships in Brampton. Supplied
Mitchell and her coach Judi Boyle-Krzeczkowski following her silver medal skate. Supplied

Like any other nine-year-old, Hailey Mitchell loves to jump. Not many do it all the way to the provincial stage.

On March 22, the Welland native, who is a member of the Niagara-on-the-Lake Skating Club, wrapped up an incredible season with a silver medal at the 2024 Skate Ontario Provincial Championships in Brampton.

“She did exactly what I thought she would do,” says coach Judi Boyle-Krzeczkowski. “She practises exactly how she wants to perform, and she performed exactly how she practised.”

Mitchell entered the finals’ Free Skate competition of the Star-5 U10 category as the No. 1 contender, finishing the regular season atop the standings after five competitions, including a gold medal performance at the Provincial Series #13 in Brantford, Feb. 15 to 17.

“I wasn’t nervous (in Brampton),” she says. “It is really fun to do. I like the jumps and I like trying new things.”

That confidence could have easily been stymied before the season even began. Suffering from a broken ankle last summer, few would have blamed her for holding back during the first few months of the season.

“It actually made things better,” says Boyle-Krzeczkowski.

“It made her focus on the things that she doesn’t like to do on a daily basis. She became more well-rounded as a skater. When she came back (from the injury) she was more determined than ever.”

Mitchell credits her coaches and teammates as the reason she is able to focus so well. With many options in Niagara for training, she chose Niagara-on-the-Lake above all.

“I have a lot of amazing friends and my coaches push me to progress,” she says.

Boyle-Krzeczkowski echoes that sentiment.

An award-winning coach who has been at the helm of the NOTL club for more than 20 years, she annually receives requests from skaters across Niagara to come and train here. The club now numbers around 300 skaters.

“Every September people are wanting to come here.  We have a good reputation for our Learn to Skate program, and at the level where Hailey is the kids are just so supportive of each other. Nobody is out against each other. There’s no jealousy, it’s complete support.”

Mitchell says she will be back next year to skate under the NOTL banner.

“I am looking forward to next season and being at provincials this year will push me to do even better.”

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