Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

A Book Launch Tale - Taking The Ice - Success Stories from the World of Canadian Figure Skating

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A Book Launch Tale - Taking The Ice - Success Stories from the World of Canadian Figure Skating

Well...although it was 2 weeks ago, it feels like the launch was just yesterday for my first book Taking the Ice - Success Stories from The World of Canadian Figure Skating. (www.takingtheice.com)

I want to share a couple of things - first of all - if you are knee deep in skating, as I am, there will be pictures that will crop up unexpectedly from time to time. My book launch was at The Granite Club, where I skated as a kid. My "good friend" (more on that later) 2 time Olympian and 3 time Canadian Champion and Granite Club coach Josee Chouinard started telling me in Vancouver at the Olympics that she had a "surprise" for me - and then she would start to laugh maniacally and scamper away. Apparently, Barb S (Granite Club Skating administrator) had done a massive clean up of boxes at the Club sometime last season and located pictures from the Club Competition in 1968 where I won something. Josee decided it would be fun to frame it and to include it as part of her introduction of me at the launch. She (kindly) didn't mention it was the last time I won anything and kept her giggles in check at my very fashionable sailor dress for which I am grateful. It could have been worse - I might have had a grandmother who had knit me a skirt complete with matching panties and a bonnet! That said - Sleep with one eye open Josee! :)

Before the book was published, I thought that the lion's share of the work would be the writing of the book - I was wrong. There was a lot of effort that had to go into the launch of the book on the part of me and my family, Josee, as well as Robert Morgan of BookLand Press. Then there was the sneak peek Short Dance Exhibition from Granite Club skaters and 4 Continents' Champions Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje which really helped to set the "skating" tone of the event.

I was grateful for the support of Skate Canada's Debbi Wilkes and CBC's Chris Irwin who both spoke about skating in Canada in glowing terms. It was also an amazing gift to have photographer Justine Chiu capture all the special moments. (www.justinechiu.com)

It was a little strange however to get up and speak. When it was my turn, I took full advantage to be able to talk a little about some of the conversations that I had had along the way with Canada's best skaters, coaches and choreographers. To be able to finally talk about legendary choreographer David Wilson who almost quit skating prematurely, artost and skaterToller Cranston who sees himself as an alchemist, 1948 Olympic champion Barbara Ann Scott who values duty and honour to one's country over anything else was a treat. Then there was the chance to share the details of the Vancouver experience of Olympic bronze medallist Joannie Rochette through the eyes of her legendary coach Manon Perron. To look out and see skaters Tomas Verner and Vanessa Crone and Paul Poirier in the audience re-living Vancouver was a privilege and maybe shed a tiny shred of light on the fishbowl that is an Olympic Games.

I felt like a kid with a delicious secret as I spilled the beans that there had already been serious talk surfacing of a "deal" regarding the 2002 Olympic pairs title at a social function at Skate Canada in October of 2001. The talk was that it didn't matter what Canadian pair Jamie Sale and David Pelletier did, the French judge was not going to award them first place. A second Olympic Gold was awarded to the Canadians and the entire judging system has since been re-vamped. Thrilled to hear and write the 37 personal stories from people who were there (including me!) in that section? You bet!

Small wonder writing the book never felt like work. Hope you like it! Thanks to all of my supporters and guests for a magical event!

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

Pj Kwong

Pj Kwong is a figure skating expert and writer currently working for CBC Sports. Her first book, Taking the Ice: Success Stories from the World of Canadian Figure Skating (BookLand Press), will be in stores in September 2010.

Go to Pj Kwong’s Author Page