Tough choices ahead for N.W.T. figure skater who won gold at territorials

Jackson Fuller, 13, of Hay River, N.W.T., is the only male competitive figure skater in the territory. (Submitted by Jackson Fuller - image credit)
Jackson Fuller, 13, of Hay River, N.W.T., is the only male competitive figure skater in the territory. (Submitted by Jackson Fuller - image credit)

At 13, Jackson Fuller is at a crossroads.

As both a hockey player and a figure skater, the Hay River, N.W.T., athlete thinks he may have to choose soon between two sports he loves.

"Up here, there's not much leagues and divisions for hockey. If I want to go somewhere for better hockey, I've gotta go somewhere down south — and I don't think I'll be able to figure skate at the same time," said Fuller, who recently brought home four gold medals from the territorial figure skating competition in February.

Fuller, the N.W.T.'s only competitive male figure skater, has been figure skating for seven or eight years. He started initially after his mom suggested it could help him become a better hockey player.

Figure skating has made "a huge difference" in that regard, he said.

"It helps with edges, it helps with your power and your strength in your legs. It has really helped," he said.

It's also a lot of fun.

He has a couple new skating routines — he likes to skate to instrumental music, and he's got a pop routine, too — and he was looking forward to performing this weekend at Hay River's Musical Mashups.

"It's kind of like a carnival," he explained. "It's a show for everybody who's in the Hay River Figure Skating Club to basically showcase all that they've learned throughout the year to their parents."

But as usual, he'll be the only male skater performing. That's a reality he's gotten used to over the years.

Thorsten Photography
Thorsten Photography

He feels there's a perception in the N.W.T. that figure skating is more of a sport for girls than boys, and he's seen a lack of interest in it from male peers.

"I also think you always have to have someone to inspire you to be these things. And there's just no inspiration here," he said.

He didn't have many sources of inspiration himself when he was younger. He made friends with other hockey players in CanSkate, a beginner skating program, and eventually started watching Olympic skating.

"That's what kept me going," he said.

Now, as one of the coaches for CanSkate, he wants to encourage other boys to get involved.

"I'm just trying to help them, and hopefully they grow up to be one day like me," he said.

That's his message to parents of boys who might be curious about figure skating, too: just keep trying to inspire them, and show them real-world examples of men's figure skating.

"Show them Olympic clips. Just show them that there is something that you can become, being a men's figure skater."

Musical Mashups happens Saturday, with the doors opening at 2 p.m.