Big goals for pint-sized SA figure-skating champion

2016-06-03 07:10
Nicolas van Der Vijver, 11-year-old figure skating champion. (Supplied)

Nicolas van Der Vijver, 11-year-old figure skating champion. (Supplied)

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Cape Town – “When you fall on the ice, it’s amazing”. These are strong words for a pint-sized 11-year-old figure-skater who will soon be flying the South African flag at an elite camp overseas.

After submitting a convincing video with some of his moves, Capetonian Nicolas van der Vijver nabbed a spot to attend two weeks of an international figure-skating camp in Minnesota, the US.

His parents Martin and Linda were raising funds to help pay his travel expenses and secure as many coaching sessions as they could, not cheap at around R750 a pop.

Van der Vijver, who was adopted when he was four-months old, immediately charmed with his big grin and way of expressing himself.

But it was on the ice at the GrandWest Casino in Cape Town where his passion for the sport came alive.

“When you fall, it’s teaching you or your brain a step to get a position right in the air, or a position when you are spinning,” he told News24 matter-of-factly on Wednesday.

“If you hit yourself hard, then that’s your problem, not anyone else’s problem.”

Falling was a common occurrence when he first hit the “baby rink” at around six years.

He joined the Black Panther figure skating club and kept at it. In a very unusual move for skating coach Vage Evetts, she approached his parents after seeing his potential.

“I noticed him in the club and the enjoyment he was getting out of it. He is a showman, which not everyone is. He’s got quite a bit of flair,” she smiled.

Nicolas van Der Vijver, 11-year-old figure skating champion. (Jenna Etheridge, News24)

Natural ability

Proud dad Martin said his son was quite modest.

“I am very scared of the ice. He just has a natural ability. He is still developing his body strength, but has good balance and flexibility.”

Van der Vijver’s favourite moves are a double loop in the air and standing on his head on the ice.

“I enjoy skating because it’s fun, it’s free. You do your own thing really,” he said while warming his hands.

While in America, he hoped to learn how to do a backflip from French-American ex figure-skater Surya Bonaly.

He believed the camp would improve his skating and teach him more techniques.

“I will probably have intense training, very intense. I will take any opportunity that I get.”

He had already achieved first place in the pre-novice category of both the Western Province and national figure-skating championships.

His sights were set on become a sports scientist and coach. Part of this dream involved possibly moving to a country where figure-skating was more prominent.

Evetts said the only way ice-skating sports would grow in the country was to get more ice-rinks, promotions, and sponsorships.

The youngster remained motivated by watching videos.

“I also get inspiration from my coach, like don’t give up, you can get there. There is always going to be a bad day for every skater. If you are tired still try do your best."

Watch how this champ moves on the ice:

Nicolas van Der Vijver, 11-year-old figure skating champion. (Jenna Etheridge, News24)

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