By Josh Howald
What Ripley lacks in size, it makes up in spirit.
Ripley's Taryn Fry and father Steve compete at Weskate Sunday afternoon. (Josh Howald photo)
That was what organizers behind Weskate’s first ever stop in the village said Sunday afternoon.
An estimated 2,000 people were in Ripley over the weekend for the Weskate - Skate Canada’s Central Ontario Western Area Competition.
“I think our count had us at 371 skaters (competing) over the weekend,” smiled Amy Fry, president of the Ripley-Huron Skating Club. “You could say it was a small challenge.”
The festivities kicked off Friday afternoon and continued until early Sunday evening. To cap off an already successful weekend, Ripley – who had never won a trophy at a Weskate event, finished second overall in points. Mount Forest was first, with Durham finishing third.
“We had never really done this before,” said Fry. “But we had such a strong club this year we decided to go for it. It has gone over really well, and the Weskate people have commented on how well organized everything is.”
They also commented on this hospitality. More than 100 volunteers stepped up to ensure the weekend was successful, and the business community got behind the event as well.
“What has been great is the fact it isn’t just the skaters and their parents,” said Fry. “Everyone in the community stepped up and was incredibly supportive.”
Fry said the Ripley-Huron Skating Club actually had to turn away volunteers. People arrived at the arena only to be told there was no work left to be done. But that doesn’t mean plenty of work didn’t get put in.
“It is an amazing event, just so large,” said Fry, whose husband Steve and daughter Taryn competed in the Family Skate Sunday morning. “(Saturday) was crazy for a town this size – to have that many people here was overwhelming at first but it all turned out great. It was better than anybody could have hoped or expected.”
The Ripley-Huron Skating Club has about 50 members, 36 of which competed in the three day competition. That includes junior skaters at the StarSkate and CanSkate level who will eventually leave the club to play in the Ripley Minor Hockey Association. In total, Ripley skaters won 23 gold medals, 13 silver and 11 bronze medals, in addition to 30 ribbons.
Leading the charge was Brooke Thomas, who had gold medals in Special Olympic Elements and Special Olympic Individual Elements. Ripley won three gold medals in Team Elements: Kate Leppington, Abby MacDonald and Sarah Durnin; Callie Martyn, Kaleigh Thomas and Meghan Johnson as well as Kelsey Hunter, Julia Richardson and Marley Martyn. Taryn Fry won gold in StarSkate Freeskate, as did Leppington, Jenny Johnson, Rachel Jedemann, Julia Richardson and Jaclyn McBride. Leppington also won gold in StarSkate Interpretive, as did Bethany Wilken. Finally, Wilken and father Dan won gold in StarSkate Dance.
Silver medals went to the team of MacKenzie Neabel, Kenzie Fry and Brandan Holland and the team of Leppington, Lauren Richardson and Sabrina Drankhan. Marley Martyn won two silver medals and Lauren Scott and Megan Lowry each won silver.
Bronze went to Johnson and Jedemann, Johnson, Morgan Colling, Drankhan, Thomas, Richardson, Sarah Shiels and Callie and Marley Martyn.