When an email from Kurt Browning suddenly appeared on Bolibruck’s home computer in 2013, his wife Marla’s initial reaction was to ask her daughter, “What has dad done now?”
“He is one to get into trouble.”
As it turns out, what he had done has actually turned out quite well for the Thorold Figure Skating Club. That email was the response from an email John Bolibruck had sent the star skater nearly a year before inquiring whether the four-time world and Canadian champion might be available for the local club’s annual ice show.
While it would be a few years before Browning was available to appear, he did offer to help the local skating club recruit star talent, resulting in appearances by a who’s who from the world of Canadian figure skating.
Olympic bronze medalist and 2008 world champion Jeffrey Buttle has been here. So has three-time world champion, two-time Olympic silver medalist and seven-time Canadian champion legendary skater Elvis Stojko who headlined last year. Browning finally made it two years ago, but there hasn’t been a shortage of star power at Thorold’s annual skating extravaganza for the past several years.
What they haven’t had before, however, is the reigning world champion. At least, until now.
Kaetlyn Osmond captured the hearts of a nation last year when she overcame a strong field to capture an Olympic bronze medal in the women’s competition after earning a gold as a member of the Canadian skating team. But her nearly flawless performance in the long program at the world championships a month later has to be ranked among one of the finest moments in the history of Canadian figure skating. Osmond became only the fourth Canadian woman to earn the world champion title.
And less than a year later, she’s coming here, crown still firmly in place.
Unfortunately for the rest of Canada, Osmond is taking a year off from competition so that world champion title is destined to disappear in March.
“It’s been a wild ride for me because with meeting and dealing with these people who you see performing on tv, and then you’re face-to-face, it’s been very nice,” said Bolibruck who, along with this wife Marla, have been volunteers with the skating club for several years. Both have stepped back somewhat this year, but John is still involved in recruiting.
“I have all the skater’s phone numbers,” he said.
The couple still have two daughters in their 20s who still enjoy skating with the local club.
Bringing such high-profile performers to Thorold isn’t inexpensive, but Bolibruck says the club has had lots of help from sponsors who continue supporting the annual show year after year. “John Henderson (Henderson’s Pharmacy) has been one of our biggest supporters.”
While stars are appreciated, Bolibruck says the real reason for the show is for all the future stars. “The Thorold Ice Show has always been about these young skaters, going out there and showing their talent … being a star for a day.”
Featuring skaters from toddler age to late teens, this year’s show, titled Dancing through the Decades, is scheduled for Saturday, Feb 23 at 7:30 and Sunday, Feb. 24 at 2 p.m. at the Thorold Arena.
Tickets are priced at $10 and are now available here.