There are few opportunities to witness a more elegant and awe-inspiring performance, than when witnessing skaters compete in a pairs competition. The two perform as one; executing complex spins, spirals and lifts with ease. These skaters are the ultimate athletes, and the ease with which they perform obscures the countless hours of training and sacrifice such a performance requires.
Allen and Linda (nee Tasker) Carson have lived that life. The two met as teenagers in Streetsville (Mississauga), and began skating together as a pair in 1969, eventually bringing home gold, silver and bronze medals from competitions in Canada and internationally.
Titles of note include winning the 1969 Canadian pairs novice level championship and the Canadian Junior pairs figure skating championship in Winnipeg in 1971. After the 1971 win, Linda vividly recalls being greeted at the then Toronto International Airport by a busload of school friends, a piper and a very young mayor named Hazel McCallion, who welcomed them home and celebrated their success. Linda was just 17 at the time, and Allen, 19.
After winning the title of senior Canadian bronze medalists in 1973, the couple embarked on a career in skating instruction that would span 47 years, 43 of them at the Streetsville-Meadowvale Figure Skating Club. They taught students at the sectional (Ontario) and Canadian levels.
Working as a skating instructor includes a long, grueling schedule. They recall being up early every morning to be on the ice for 5:30 a.m., teaching in the afternoon and returning to the ice in the evening, often not finishing their day until 10 p.m.
They are particularly proud of the many students who started with them, and have moved on to the upper echelons of skating. Roman Sadovski, a native of Vaughn, Ontario, started with them when he was just five-years-old. Sadovski is a multiple medal-winner, and is the 2020 Canadian national champion. There is a special pride the Carsons both feel when they see him perform on television. Linda said “at five, he stepped on the ice and everyone knew. He would mimic the older kids and he could spin like a top.”
“It makes us feel so proud that we started him and laid the groundwork,” said Linda.
The Carsons, now retired, still maintain a presence in the skating world.
Allen has been sharpening skates for more than 25 years, and the couple has volunteered at Canadian and world championships when held in Ontario. Allen was responsible for the sharpening of skates for the Russian world champion, Alexei Yagudin when he skated in Toronto, and has worked behind the scenes at the Canadian production of Battle of the Blades.
The couple was also involved with training and organizing a mini-Battle of the Blades with Toronto area skating clubs. They participated in the training of the pairs, which coupled a young, seasoned female skater with a hockey player. Linda said she “enjoyed working with the hockey players”, who at 15 or 16-years-of-age were enthusiastic students. She also helped organize a skating show in central Ontario a few years ago.
Today, the couple remain fit and active and can often be seen skating at the Davidson Centre. Allen enjoys participating in old-timers hockey games. Like everyone else, they are looking forward to the end of shutdowns caused by the pandemic, and worry about the effect the closures will have on skating clubs.
Tammy Lindsay, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Kincardine Independent