Like many athletes her age, 13-year-old Maia Pothier is extremely talented but also very shy.
What shines through in a conversation with her is a person who’s extremely dedicated to her craft.
“I just really like it, especially competing,” Pother said at the Newport and District Rink in Brooklyn.
“Just getting out on the ice and skating and having a clean program — it’s a good feeling.”
Pothier started with the Riverview Skating Club when she was just four. Her connection to figure skating has been a long-term commitment.
And it’s not just an occasional hobby. Pothier puts a tremendous amount of time and effort into the sport — practising on average six days a week.
“I just really like it,” she repeated when asked why she put so many hours into the sport.
The Grade 8 student at West Hants Middle School is one of 12 prospects from Nova Scotia who are hoping to be selected to compete at the upcoming 2019 Canada Games in Red Deer, Alberta.
She’s been attending training seminars and practising relentlessly with that goal in mind.
“I really like jumping,” she said. “The amount of skill required, you work really hard to land the harder jumps, and then when you finally do, it’s just really satisfying.”
Pothier said she’s developed a strong bond with her fellow skaters at Riverview, saying that many have become friends and they support each other on the ice.
Pothier is getting ready for the Robert McCall Memorial Competition in Lantz, a qualifying round to get into the Skate Atlantica tournament in April 2018, also held in Lantz, which will feature skaters from across Atlantic Canada.
She’s been changing up her program a bit, adding more difficulty to her routine.
“Before I did a single lutz (jump), but I’ve recently started landing double lutz, so that’s going to be in both of my programs,” she said. “Working to get the consistency, landing it every time, it’s tough.”
Pothier said that she doesn’t mind performing her programs in front of crowds because she’s able to block out the nerves when she’s on the ice.
“I get really nervous when people I know come to watch sometimes, but mostly it doesn’t bother me,” she said. “Once the music starts and I start skating, I just forget all of it and I’m just so focused on what I’m doing.”
Full of potential
Jennifer Harvie, a head coach at Riverview Skating Club, said Pothier has the potential to go far with the sport. She's worked with Pothier in different ways since she started with the club.
“She’s a very dedicated skater, she works endlessly. Her work ethic is very good, she doesn’t waste time on the ice," Harvie said.
“She knows what she wants to achieve and works towards that, while still being very kind towards all of the other skaters. She’s a super nice girl."
Harvie said she feels Pothier’s Canada Games goal is one that is attainable due to the progress she’s seen over the past year.
The young skater also helps out with the skating club, assisting with the CanSkate program, helping the youngest skaters gain confidence.
“She’s one of our circuit leaders, helps to set up, taking on a lot of extra stuff,” she said. “She goes above and beyond.”
Harvie said one of Pothier’s strengths is her positive attitude and her ability to take criticism and turn it into a positive.
“Every time she’s competed this season, she’s beat her personal best. She’s constantly getting better and striving for new goals each time,” she said.
Her coach said the biggest thing Pothier needs to work on is her smile and presentation while performing her programs.
“She is shy, so she has a tendency to keep things close, but she’s grown a lot with building her presentation and the performance aspect,” she said. “That’s what really separates the top skaters. Lots of people can perform the technical elements, but when it comes to being able to perform them in front of the crowd, that takes charisma. She’s really improved with that.”
Although Pothier is hyper-focused on the Canada Games, Harvie says she could go even further if she continues to hone her skills.
“If she continues to be as dedicated as she is, skating can be a part of her career,” she said.