Feeling at home on the ice

Staying active was always the perogative for Annick Lance’s family but what she didn’t realize was through trying different sports her daughter would find her passion.
Lance explained that when her daughter, Zoé Lafontaine put on her first ice skates at the age of four, it felt like second nature. It was effortless for her. Recognized for her talent, Zoé Lafontaine, age 12, won the Coup de Coeur award for the MRC Pontiac. She was awarded at the Excellence sportive Outaouais Gala in Gatineau on Dec. 20.
“We are so proud of her. We always trusted her, we’re just proud,” said Lance. “When I see her [on the ice] she’s like a whole new person, I’m like ‘wow she looks like a young lady,’” she added.
Missing the deadline the first time she heard about this award, this year Lance was determined to nominate her daughter. Hoping for the best, Lance felt extremely proud that Lafontaine was chosen.
Lafontaine initially started doing gymnastics but lost interest after some time so her mother put her in skating and what was originally going to be just another sport she was trying, turned out to be her passion. Lafontaine’s coaches noticed her talents and after receiving two medals with the Lauréats régionaux, relève-star for 2016 and 2017 by the Association régionale de patinage de l’Abitibi-Témiscamingue, her mom encouraged her to stick with it. Her parent’s hopes were to ensure she was having fun and to never feel pressured to start competing.
“She doesn’t feel competition. It was easy for her. She would try it. She would do it. When she did well it was okay and when she didn’t do well it was also okay,” said Lance.
When she’s on the ice, Lafontaine feels like she is home; she is where she belongs and for her, it’s freeing. Performing in front of an audience she feels both nervous and excited. But as soon as she gets in the groove she can tune everyone out and feel like she is the only one on the ice.
She loves the dance aspect of figure skating, and her favourite song to perform is Hallelujah by Pentatonix. Her most recent performance was at the Shawville Arena, where she skated to Supermarket Flowers by Ed Sheeran.
When asked what was a challenging aspect of figure skating, Lafontaine mentioned for her it was learning new tricks. The axel, one she is currently trying to master, involves a jump and twirl.
Lafontaine currently skates with the Shawville Figure Skating Club, but prior to moving to Otter Lake four years ago she was part of a different club in Val-d’Or. Transitioning here was an obstacle for Lafontaine.
There was a point when Lance thought her daughter was going to quit skating because she was off the ice for so long, in a new environment while learning a new language, but once restrictions lifted she wanted to go back, and Lance was thrilled to see her daughter doing what she loved.
With perseverance and hard work she feels a lot more comfortable now and being on the ice is fun again, Lance explained, adding that “We always encourage her but do not push her. She needs to like it, she needs to love it, she needs to have fun.”
Winning her recent award was a reminder to keep at it, it encouraged Lafontaine to continue doing what she loves because it’s not just a hobby, she mentioned.
With her skating program, Lafontaine not only practices but as part of the StarSkate program they are also required have to spend some time on the ice teaching the younger skaters. Lance said that although she wasn’t initially too thrilled to teach other kids, having her younger cousin there made it a lot more enjoyable for her, plus it taught her a lot.
“I think it gives them a lot of insurance and responsibilities and it teaches them to share their passion with the next generation of skaters,” said Lance.
When she’s not on the ice Lafontaine is jumping around the kitchen with her younger sister practicing other moves, her mother said with a smile. Her daughter also enjoys ice fishing and a whole host of sports. Lance’s motto if they were staying active she was happy, it didn’t matter what they chose as they found something they enjoyed.
“We just want her to have fun and enjoy herself and push as hard as she can. We want her to keep going and we’ll follow her wherever she wants to go. Whatever she wants to do, we’ll do it,” said Lance.
As a 12-year-old, Lafontaine doesn’t know what the future has in store for her but it is evident that she wants to pursue figure skating and go as far as she can. Her goal this year is perfecting the axel and sticking the landing, she said.
Her next competition will be on Jan. 22 in Gatineau, and might also be participating in another competition in February.

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