By Justin Seward
The Redcliff Skating Club has turned to 2014 Olympian Rudi Swiegers to be their new head coach for this upcoming season.
Swiegers comes over to Redcliff after spending time with the Cypress School of Skating in Medicine Hat.
“I’ve been working with Cypress School of Skating for awhile with the head coach George (Yuhas), (he) is from Redcliff and he kind of heard through the grapevine that they were looking for a coach,” said Swiegers.
“Every since the whole COVID-19 thing happened, work has been slim, so I jumped at the chance and upon meeting them I think it’s going to be a nice fit. I’m very excited.”
Swiegers emigrated with his family from South Africa to Kipling, Sask. at 11-years-old and began his skating career in Wawota.
The fit was natural for the seven-year professional coach.
“With Redcliff being outside of Medicine Hat, it definitely fits that small town feel,” said Swiegers.
He says he brings a lot of excitement to the club.
“Skating is such a fantastic sport,” he said.
“I’ve loved it for many years, otherwise I wouldn’t have gone as far as I did with my own competitive career. (I’m) just really excited to share my love of skating with the next generation.”
He is looking forward to new faces and challenges.
“There are always challenges when you’re joining a new club and I thrive on overcoming those challenges,” he said.
“For some of our Starskaters(developing skills in the areas of ice dance, skating skills, free skate and interpretive skating) getting a feel for how they’ve been trained in the past versus my own skating style. There’s always a back and forth there and working with kids on individual levels. There’s always a challenge to match personalities to match a wide variety of people.”
He looked at his experience at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi as “it was a fantastic opportunity that I worked very hard for.”
“I was lucky enough to make it on the team and it was an unreal experience,” he said.
That experience gave him continuity moving forward into his coaching career.
“A lot of people see the Olympics as the upper echelon of sport,” he said.
“Most of the time when you have disagreements with parents, it kind of gives you that fair playing field. Well you know I have an understanding of these things and for the most part you don’t have to butt heads very often. It’s nice for parents to look at that as itself and go ‘you know what I’m going to trust this guy.’”
He is also a three-time national medalist, a professional ice dance partner for 11 years, a member of the Gold Freeskate Program, NCCP Level 1 certified and a skater in at the senior level in competitive pairs and singles.
“We wanted to make a change,” said Joanne Fuhrmann, Skating Club president.
“We wanted somebody new and young to take us into the next season. He’s really energetic and fun and the kids are really going to like him.”
Sarah Portelance was Swiegers predecessor and accepted a full time coaching position with the Medicine Hat Skating Club.