Virden Congratulates Bronze Medalists

Pairs skaters Paige Lawrence and Rudi Swiegers are making headlines, and not just in the Virden Empire-Advance. Recently, the team was featured in newspapers across the country when they took third place at the BMO Canadian Figure Skating Championships in Victoria last January.

To celebrate their achievements as skaters and competitors, and to get a good look at the medals, community members were invited by Skate Virden to attend a reception held in the pair’s honour February 3 in the multipurpose room of the Aud Theatre.

In a room covered in brightly coloured posters by aspiring skaters and youngsters and packed with proud coaches, parents, relatives, fellow skaters and supporters, Lawrence and Swiegers made the rounds, talking shop and thanking supporters.

Leanne Lawrence was excited for her bronze-medalist daughter and her partner. “This is wonderful,” she said. “This community has been very, very supportive of [Lawrence and Swiegers]. They have a very good fan base here.”

Both originally from Saskatchewan, Lawrence is still pleasantly surprised at the support she and Swiegers have received from the Virden area. “It’s crazy that they wanted to do this for us,” she said appreciatively.

While waiting to cut a cake the couple donned their medals for an impromptu photo shoot. Having been left on display afterwards, the medals were scooped up by two admiring young skaters, Jenna Meredith and Carly Paton. When asked if she would have her own one day, Paton enthusiastically replied that she would. Then, thoughtfully, she said, “I think this one is mine, actually.”

The crowd was also treated to a viewing of the pair’s short program from the BMO Championships, but not until they had first watched the program of Virden native Kaleigh Hole and her partner Adam Johnson. “If you’re really quiet you can hear them talking to one another during those sit-spins,” Swiegers told young skaters during Hole’s program.

Once the cake had been cut and served, Swiegers whistled loudly for attention so Lawrence could thank the crowd. “We just want to thank you all for doing this for us,” she said. “It means a lot to us that you are all here. We know that you all support us, but it means a lot to have you all in the same room.”

“Also, we want to throw out a big thank you to [Coach Patty Hole],” added Swiegers, “and to [choreographer Alexandra Foreman] for doing a great, amazing, phenomenal job on our choreography.”

Bringing greetings on behalf of Mayor Jeff McConnell and the Town of Virden, Toni Schneider congratulated the medalists. “We’re so proud of you guys. Just to have you in our facility is awesome.”

Arthur-Virden MLA Larry Maguire also commented on their success. “When [my wife] can keep me up until 1 a.m. to watch figure skating…” he said, implying the significance of their skate. “On behalf of the citizens of Manitoba, congratulations and keep going.”

As a result of their bronze medals, Lawrence and Swiegers will be headed to Taiwan February 15 to 20, 2011, to skate in the International Skating Union Four Continents Championships in Taipei City.

Published in the Virden Empire-Advance. February, 2011. Lawrence and Swiegers went on to compete in the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia, finishing 14th Pairs Figure Skating.