From WinSport to Korea, Ruiter hunts for gold

Kaiya Ruiter

Kaiya Ruiter has a chance to add to her ever-growing resume beginning this weekend at the World Youth Olympics.

The 17-year-old captured the Canadian women’s figure skating crown at the national championships on Jan. 13 on home ice at WinSport’s Event Centre. And beginning Sunday in Gangwon, South Korea, she is looking to add a Youth Olympics gold medal to her trophy case.

The Calgary skater’s long hours of training at WinSport’s facilities paid off when she edged favourite Madeline Schizas to win the Canadian title. Ruiter, who finished second to Schizas at last year’s nationals, finished with a score of 180.86 compared to 172.90 for the defending champion.

“That was one of the most special performances I’ve ever had in my life, and to be able to share that with my family and friends and everyone I love, is just surreal,” said Ruiter. “I just wanted to enjoy the moment. I love this program so much and I just wanted to share that with the audience.”

Ruiter’s amazing performance not only took place at the same venue where she trains and spends most of her time, it also came in front of her family and friends, including her parents, sisters and grandmother.

“Just having that skate out there, that just felt like magic to me,” Ruiter told The Canadian Press. “That was one of the most special performances I’ve ever had in my life and just to get to share that with my family and friends and everyone that I love, it's just surreal.”

The 2020 Canadian National Junior Champion will get plenty of experience at the Youth Olympics that will prepare her for the even larger stage, according to her coach, Scott Davis.

“I personally want her to have an experience of a lifetime, where she’s in that Olympic venue with all the other athletes from the different sports and kind of soak in that atmosphere,” Davis said in an interview with CTV’s Glenn Campbell.

“Hopefully in the future she can go to the Olympics coming up. It will be a great experience for her, and I think just to have another perfect skate would be amazing.”

Ruiter, who was born in Ottawa, has come a long way since her skating days on the Rideau Canal.

“I just want to work super hard this week and put out performances just like I did at the national championships and just enjoy the experience,” Ruiter told CTV before heading to Korea this past Monday.

Ruiter’s road to World Youth Olympic gold begins Sunday with the short program, while the free skate is scheduled for Tuesday. She’ll perform her free skate on Feb. 1 as part of the team event.