Mixed rinks

Sports_Olympian David Pelletier

Combining sports for optimal play

By Natalie Serafini, Editor-in-Chief

It was recently announced that the Edmonton Oilers would be welcoming a new skating coach into their fold: Olympic figure skating champion David Pelletier.

Although hockey is generally associated with little of the grace of figure skating, Pelletier seems like the prime figure to bring more discipline to the rink: Pelletier brought Olympic gold back to Canada for the first time in 42 years when he and Jamie Sale won pairs figure skating in 2002. The Skate Canada, Canadian Olympic, and Canada Sports Hall of Famer has also been coaching hockey and power skaters since retiring.

Now, I’m sure a lot of you are thinking, while both figure skating and hockey involve skates, the similarities in training essentially end there. Pelletier might be a world-renowned figure skater, but c’mon—can he really teach hockey skaters how it’s done? Even WikiHow.com, that wealth of knowledge for all your how-to Q’s, echoes this dubiousness: as the site’s article on “How to Hockey Skate … (with pictures)” describes, “Significantly more aggressive and a bit-faster-paced than figure skating, hockey skating combines the skill of ice dancing with the brutality of football.”

Then again, if hockey requires the skill found in figure skating, it does make sense to bring in an Olympian. While figure skating comes across as a graceful and less aggressive sport, there’s a great deal of power behind the skaters’ technique. You try a triple-axle on the ice and tell me it’s easy.

Pelletier’s new position is indicative of more sports taking an interdisciplinary approach to their training. In addition to figure skaters taking their technique to the rink for hockey players, yoga has become increasingly accepted as a part of hockey players’ training. NSWC.ca describes five of many yoga benefits, including improved muscle flexibility, balance, core strength, concentration, and commitment. Focussing on self-improvement outside of their sport allows the players to be better at their own sport.

In order to be in the best shape you possibly can be, you have to commit to diverse and varied exercises. While cardio and weight training are important to most athletes, flexibility and core strength often get ignored, to the detriment of health and performance.

Too often yoga is seen as a relaxing activity, or something to be prescribed when you’re undergoing physiotherapy—it’s usually said by people who don’t do yoga though, or who have only gone to meditative forms of yoga. Trying out a power yoga class will not only challenge your flexibility and core, but it will also challenge your preconceived notions.

Pelletier’s introduction to the Edmonton Oilers is just one way in many that an interdisciplinary approach to sports can improve athletic performance. The training and skills that Pelletier has as a figure skater will show the players how to better approach power skating, just as yoga helps improve balance on the ice. It will be interesting to see if the trend of intersectional sports extends outside of hockey: improved flexibility and core strength could certainly help any athlete in any sport, whether your comfort zone is on a rink, a court, a field, or in a yoga studio.