Figure skating friends from Lethbridge head to Alberta Winter Games together

The Lethbridge Skating Club will be well represented at the 2020 Alberta Winter Games this weekend, as the contingent heading up from southern Alberta includes skaters — and good friends — Shanelle Mann and Acacia Smith.

“It makes it even more fun and you don’t get nervous… and you have like a buddy to cheer you on,” said Mann. “Acacia is one of my closest friends, so it’s going to be really fun because we get to hang out all day, every day.”

Smith agreed that heading to the provincial competition with her friend will make the experience even more special.

“Me and Shanelle are like really, really good friends,” said the 13-year-old, “so I’m happy that we get to go together and I think that will make like the experience even better, going with your friend.”

The pair qualified for the AWG through a sectionals competition in the fall, where the top two competitors from each zone were granted entry for the Games.

The competition will be a new adventure as both girls take in their first AWG, but for Mann, a familiarity based on her mother’s history competing in the Games.

“She told me that it’s a lot of fun and mostly you just want to have fun,” said Mann. “It’s not really about winning; it’s more about having fun and the experience.”

Mann’s mother Angela is also her coach, and the 12-year-old said she’s been on skates for as long as she can remember.

The Alberta Winter Games (Feb. 14-17) will host roughly 2,800 athletes competing in 20 sports, and competitors will be boarded in a kind of “athlete’s village” inside Airdrie schools.

“I’m excited to sleep in a school. It seems really cool,” said Mann.

But more than anything, both girls just want to soak up the four-day experience.

“I just want to have fun with my friends and do my personal best,” said Mann. “I don’t really care about winning or anything.”

So what is Smith most excited for?

“I don’t know, it depends,” said Smith, “I’m excited to watch all my friends, but I’m excited to do my program… it’s kind of a tie.”

The Lethbridge skaters will compete Sunday.

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