Ice Star Alley brings skater’s fans

Tracey Tong/metro ottawa


Canadian figure skater Josée Chouinard signs Ottawa resident Katie Hennessy’s skate after a performance on the Rideau Canal Skateway’s Ice Star Alley yesterday.

Amongst the thousands of skaters that flocked to the Rideau Canal Skateway for the second weekend of Winterlude, one stood out from the rest.

Hundreds of people gathered at the Ice Star Alley yesterday afternoon to watch Canadian figure skater Josée Chouinard take the ice.

"It’s so great to be back in Ottawa," said the 38-year-old Laval native, who used to come to Ottawa twice a year. "I love skating on the canal and I love being a part of Winterlude. I’m glad to be back."

Chouinard’s fans lined up to meet her after the performance. "We went to junior high together," said Jennifer Kelly, who brought her daughter, Sara, also a figure skater.

Laura Grominsky said her daughter, Tamara, who was a figure skater, considered Chouinard one of her heroes.

"We always used to watch her on TV," she said. "And we used to cheer for her."

University of Ottawa student Katie Hennessy had Chouinard sign her skate. "I was a figure skater as a kid and she was my favourite figure skater when I was little, maybe six or eight years old," she said.

Now 19, Hennessy remembered what made Chouinard her favourite. "It was her presence on the ice. Her smile and her enthusiasm were the best."

A former Canadian Ladies championship titleholder, Chouinard now teaches full time at the Granite Club in Toronto. Still, the mother of twin toddlers said she makes time to skate for fun and do charity events and guest appearances.

"I’m not in the limelight as much as I used to be," she said. "It’s flattering that they remember me."

The Ice Star Alley event was one of several that drew out thousands of people for the second weekend of Winterlude. Other highlights were performances by the Road Hammers and Florent Vollant at the Snowbowl, the Really Cool Prediction Run, the 28th annual Bed Race at Dows Lake and watching ice carvers at the work at the Crystal Garden.

Latest From ...