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Moose Jaw's Ryann Handley ready for Canada Winter Games

Moose Jaw figure skater aiming for medals at prestigious event
Years of hard work and preparation are about to pay off in a major way for Moose Jaw figure skater Ryann Handley.

The 17-year-old Novice ladies competitor will represent Saskatchewan at the 2019 Canada Winter Games beginning Feb. 15 in Red Deer, an event that promises to be a highlight of the up-and-coming skater's career.

“It's a real honour and I'm really looking forward it,” Handley said during a brief break from a recent three-hour practice session at the Kinsmen Sportsplex. “It'll be a lot of fun and I'm hoping I'll be able to do really well for the team and the province.”

While Saskatchewan is sending a full contingent of figure skaters to the event, Handley will be the lone competitor in her class, adding a bit of extra pressure to perform at her highest level. Seeing that she's coming off a 37th place finish at the recent national championships and the field is substantially smaller at the Games, a higher finish could be in the cards.

“I'd like to be top 15, it's way more elite there but there are fewer skaters, so there's more opportunity to finish higher,” Handley said. “I'll know pretty much everyone there, so I know the competition will be tough... The first time, it's so intimidating when you're up against skaters like that, but as you compete again and again you get used to it and it's almost motivating.”

As one could expect, Handley has been hard at work leading up to the Games, putting in 12 hours a week or more on the ice under the tutelage of coaches Jana Beesley-Capili and Sherrie Wiebe.

“It's been really good, I've been training six days a week in Moose Jaw and Regina and things have been going well, so I'm looking forward to seeing what I can do,” Handley said.

The Games will mark the end of the official competition season, but Handley will be far from done with the blades – there's still a Canada Games team tour of Saskatchewan to take part in following the event.

“It's definitely a highlight of the season, it's a lot of fun being part of that,” Handley said. “You don't get to do it too often, so it'll be fun to skate in front of everyone and show what we can do.”

Handley won't be the only Moose Jaw skater at the event, as Raine Eberl and partner Caidence Derenisky of Regina will skate in the Novice pairs division.
The figure skating portion of the Games begins Feb. 22 at the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre in Red Deer.

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