Brantford, ON: With heavy hearts and tear-filled eyes the Brant Skating Club leadership team addressed skaters and families at the Wayne Gretzky Sports Centre on Sunday afternoon to determine the fate of the annual Flashing Blades ice revue event. For only the third time in its history, the skating carnival will miss a year. The 70th annual showcase has been moved to Spring 2022.

The decision was made following the announcement from the City of Brantford that all recreational facilities including Lions Park Arena, Wayne Gretzky Sports Centre and the Brantford Civic Centre, would be closed to the public commencing Monday March 16 until, at least, April 5, 2020. With no alternative ice surface to continue training and no firm deadline for the social distancing actions required to address the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, the club like so many other governing bodies in sport and recreation had no choice but to make the hard decision.

Said Brant Skating Club president Brandi Schott,

Like so many of our members we are disappointed and saddened by these events but acknowledge and respect the gravity of these decisions and their motivations. We are unsure when we will be back on the ice, and we are unable to re-schedule with so many unknowns. It’s a difficult end to what otherwise has been a spectacular season for our skaters and our club.”

The Brant Skating Club has cancelled the remaining weeks of the Winter season, that would typically have continued up to the April 11th Flashing Blades performance. The club hopes to re-open with Spring skating sessions as early as April 14th, but at this point there is no guarantee. They will take their lead from governing bodies Skate Canada and Skate Ontario, as well as the availability of facilities under the City of Brantford.

Tickets that have been purchased for the show will be refunded, and the club is also offering to buy-back costumes from skaters and families that were purchased for the performance. As of now, the theme ‘70 Years on Ice’ and ‘Mary Poppins’ will be kept for next years date, as the performance will still be the 70th live show produced by the club.

Over 200 Flashing Blades tickets were donated to local youth programs in an outreach program developed by the Brant Skating Club and sponsored by local businesses. Brantford Honda and Millards Chartered Professional Accountants were leading partners in this effort to help engage area support programs and offer their members and their families an opportunity to be guests at the skating spectacle. The Boys and Girls Club, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, Lansdowne Children’s Center and Why Not Youth Centre all received sponsored tickets to attend the performance. The club will continue this effort in 2021 for the re-scheduled performance.

The cancellation of the Flashing Blades show joins a growing list of activities and performances shutdown by efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19. Senior pair skaters Evelyn Walsh and Trennt Michaud were ready to return to the ISU World Championships and represent Team Canada in the Montreal-based competition before the event was forced into cancellation. Walsh and Michaud had worked through a struggling start to their competitive season to win at the 2020 Skate Canada Challenge and earn silver medals at the Canadian Tire National Championships.

All provincial and regional competitions were also shutdown this past month. The Sectional Series of competitive events, regional competitions around Ontario, would typically start in mid-summer.

Skaters and families are encouraged to watch the club website and Facebook page for updates as new information becomes available; and everyone is encouraged to continue to follow the best practices and directions from Health Canada. Together, with patience and understanding, we can get back to business as usual as soon as possible.