Rudi Swiegers accomplished something not many people can say they've done- he reached the ultimate dream: Rudi competed at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi.
But when you spend a lifetime training for one moment, what happens when that moment is over?
Hayleigh Bell accomplished much in a short amount of time, winning the Canadian National Championship Title in pairs three times consecutively at the Pre-Novice, Novice, and Junior levels, and later moved on to place 11th at the Junior Worlds. However, everything changed when her former partner decided to retire. A promising career cut short for an emerging young athlete. What was she to do?
While Rudi took a season off to recuperate and refocus from such a long and incredible journey, Hayleigh continued to train her skating skills, in hopes of finding a new partner. All the while, the two kept each other in mind for December of 2014, the date Rudi gave coach Anabelle Langlois for when he would be ready to start looking for a new skating partner.
Though competing for both had come to a halt, both skaters knew they were not ready to give up. They had much more to give to the world of competitive figure skating.
In February of 2015, Rudi relocated from small town life to the big city- moving to Calgary, Alberta. During a tryout with Hayleigh, Rudi had fallen in love with the Calgary WinSport facility at the Canadian Olympic Park. The atmosphere was lively and inspiring, and there were great training resources available.
Shortly after a few initial tryouts in May of 2015, it was official- Rudi and Hayleigh chose to team up together to form a new Senior Canadian Pairs team.
Starting late in the season meant they needed to work very hard to catch up to the other teams; committing to compete only a few months later. On top of that, Hayleigh was just recovering from her second surgery for compartment syndrome in her leg, something doctors told her would keep her from skating in the future.
Another hurdle the team faced was financing. Not being eligible to receive team funding, (as a new team that had not been placed in the Canadian national team) meant looking elsewhere for support. An estimation of their total yearly costs come to roughly $100,000. A cost that does not include living expenses, as both skaters have relocated away from home.
Through their struggles, Rudi and Hayleigh have been able to bond easily with one another. Rudi is a strong, outspoken and positive person- always ready to make people laugh. While Hayleigh, though perhaps quiet at first, quickly makes you feel at ease with her infectious smile.
Hard working, strong, but willing to have fun, pairing them together was so fluid it seemed they had been skating together for years. This hasn't gone unnoticed, as these two were invited to join the High Performance Team Camp in September, even though they were not officially on the National Team...yet. They have also been assigned an international competition overseas, for the Rostelecom cup in Russia, November of 2015.
Hayleigh and Rudi's main goal is to achieve a top 5 ranking at the Skate Canada National Championships to earn their spot on the Canadian National Team. First, they will be taking the world by storm at their first competition as a new team at the Skate Canada Autumn Classic International competition in Barrie, Ontario.
Their energy, just like their potential, is boundless. We hope you'll support their journey.
Average estimated annual costs for an Elite Pair Figure Skating Team:
Skating Lessons: $1,000.00 / month each/ $24,000.00 a year minimum
Personal training: $80.00/hr 1/wk $6780.00 a year
Ballet $50.00/hr 1/wk $2400 a year
Ballroom $50.00 a week times 2/ $200 month/$2400 a year
Sports psychology $50.00 hr 1/month each $4800 a year
Choreography: $4500.00 for short and long programs
Therapy/Massage $65 /hr as needed
Boots and Blades $1400 per set each need 2 per year $5600
Sharpening $20 every three to four wks
Practice Clothes $600 per year
Costumes: $5800 for short and long
Ice Time: $300 a month or $3600 for year
Travel and accommodations $1000 per comp.
Grand Total $100, 000 roughly a year
A special thank you to Dave Holland for creating the phenomenal video used for this campaign.