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INDUCTEE 2011 - ATHLETE - Sheila Friesen (nee Gangophadhyay)


 


Competitive Figure Skater 1991-1999
Represented Alberta at the Western Canadian and National Championships
Member of Canadian National Junior Team 1994 & 1995
Represented Canada at the 1997 World Universiade Games


Sheila Friesen was born in Wetaskiwin and when she was four years old her parents enrolled her in the CanSkate program organized by the Wetaskiwin Figure Skating Club.  By the age of seven Sheila had completed all of the CanSkate levels and because she showed an interest and aptitude in the sport she  moved on to training to compete as a singles skater.  It became apparent that Sheila had the ability, focus and determination to excel in her chosen sport and that she did.  Sheila’s dedication and countless hours of practice enabled her to reach figure skatings’ elite level where she represented her city, province and country by competing at national and international level competitions.

For her first year of private lessons when she was seven, Sheila traveled to Leduc. The next three years she traveled back and forth from Wetaskiwin to Edmonton.  In order to pursue her dream and train the number of hours required,  when Sheila was eleven, she, her mom and her sister moved to Edmonton so that Sheila could train at the Royal Glenora club.  Sheila completed her schooling and then attended University in Edmonton, all the while training as a competitive figure skater.

Sheila’s dedication and countless hours of practice
enabled her to reach figure slatings' elite level

Sheila’s slowly moved up the ranks in the figure skating world.  She first qualified for Provincials at the age of nine and competed at the Juvenile Ladies level placing last.  Sheila used the results as a learning experience and the following year when she moved up a level to Pre-Novice Ladies she placed eighth in the province.   In 1990 when the Provincials were held in Wetaskiwin Sheila placed 5th in Novice Ladies.  The next year Sheila earned a silver medal at the Provincials and her first trip to Western Divisional Championships where she placed 5th.  That same year Sheila made the Alberta Team for the 1991 Canada Winter Games in Charlottetown PEI.  In 1992 Sheila moved up to Junior Ladies and she made it to Provincials and the Western Divisional Championships, a feat repeated in 1993.

Sheila's Break-through Year

In 1994 Sheila had her break-through year; she came second at Provincials, but won the Western Divisional Championships and came fourth at the Canadian Championships held in Edmonton.  Her performances earned her a spot on the Canadian Junior National Team.  In 1995 Sheila moved up to Senior Ladies, the highest competitive level and as a first-year Senior skater, she continued on the Canadian Junior National Team.  From 1995 to 1999 when she retired from figure skating, Sheila had consistent medal-winning skates at the Western Divisional championships and top-ten finishes at the Canadian Championships.

In 1997 Sheila was chosen to represent Canada at the World Winter Universiade Games in South Korea where she placed fifth.  She had the honour of being chosen by the Canadian Team to carry the Canadian flag in the Closing Ceremonies.

In addition to competing, Sheila performed at ice shows both nationally and internationally.  She received the Canadian Junior National Team Scholarship in 1995, the 1995 Petro-Canada Olympic Torch Scholarship and in 1997, the Award of Excellence at the Royal Glenora Club President’s Ball.

Selected to become elite figure skating judge

Sheila has remained connected to her favourite sport. She was selected to be a part of an elite team of former high level competitive skaters that were trained to become figure skating judges.  She has judged at the Junior National level as well as at an international event in 2004.  When she moved to Fort McMurray in 2002, she continued judging tests for local figure skaters and has done so every year since.  After a short interlude away from competition judging, Sheila became involved again in 2010.  She judged some summer competitions and later the Provincials, both in Fort Mc Murray.

Sheila’s accomplishments in figure skating are a result of her many years of dedicated practice, her ability and her desire.  She is a fine example for young athletes of how you can reach your goals through your efforts.   It is because of her outstanding achievements in figure skating that Sheila is being inducted into the Wetaskiwin and County Sports Hall of Fame.


Information about an inductee is collected from published sources, sports archives, scrapbooks, anecdotal information from family, friends and fans, and the athlete. 

However, sometimes the best stories and personal insights are gleaned at the induction dinner from the introductory comments or acceptance speech of the inductee or their representative. 

Where possible we have included this type of information for your enjoyment.

Read the opening comments made by Collen Grinde when speaking about Sheila Friesen.

 

 






 
 

 

 

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