Gray makes development team

Randy Fiedler/Red Deer Advocate

Jane Gray of Canmore skates to a 38.36 score during the pre-novice short program portion of the BMO Skate Canada Sectionals for Alberta-N.W.T./Nunavut at the Kin City Arenas in Red Deer Thursday (Nov. 8).

Thirteen-year-old Jane Gray of Canmore has skated herself onto Alberta's Junior Development Team following a seventh-place result in the pre-novice women's category at the BMO Skate Canada Sectionals in Red Deer over the long weekend (Nov. 8-11).

Gray, a Grade 8 student at Lawrence Grassi Middle School, first needed to earn

a top-30 placing in a run-off skate against 60 other competitors from Alberta,

Northwest Territories and Nunavut to advance to the exclusive short and free skate programs.

She passed that test with flying colours by placing 12th.

However, in the short program, after landing her first-ever double axle in competition perfectly, Gray unfortunately fell during her footwork, which slid her down two positions to 14th entering the free skate.

"It started out really good for me," Gray, who trains six days a week year-round with the Canmore Skating Club, said. "But after I fell during my straight line, the rest of my short program just kind of fell apart from there."

By not entering the free skate among the top five skaters, Gray believes it relieved a lot of the pressure during her final chance to impress the judges and, because of that, she went out and skated not only a personal best, but finished seventh place overall.

"Overall, my long program was the best I have ever skated," she said. "I had a really clean program. But I didn't have the pressure like some skaters did going in, so I think I probably moved up seven spots because I just went out there not worrying about winning a medal. But I wasn't expecting to finish so high."

So far this season, Gray has competed at elite figure skating events in Burnaby, Edmonton and Saskatoon, but none of the aforementioned came even close to her most recent experience.

"It was really interesting," she said. "When you're there, you can really feel the importance of the event. But I think it brought out the best in me."

Though barely into her teenage years, Gray, who calls Canadian figure skating legend Kurt Browning someone in the skating world that she looks up to because of his jumps, is currently working on a triple - a jump she has had the good fortune of landing once in practice.

"A lot of the girls in the pre-novice category are starting to work on it," she said. "I landed one in practice quite a while ago, and mostly by luck, but I know it's something I need to add to my program if I want to compete at a nationals, and eventually make it to the Olympics."

Gray's next test will be in Calgary at the Figure Skating Competition in February.

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