Trilliums in Northern Ontario


Update: Wendy continues to work hard to bring the best of the figure skating world north. Brian Orser hosted a seminar in Sudbury at her request and Doug Leigh is back for 2005 as well.

Figure Skating in Northern Ontario

Hats Off To Wendy!

The level of training available to young skaters in the Sudbury area is impressive to put it moderately.  Over a few months surrounding the turn of the skaters at the Sudbury Skating Club have had help and guidance from the likes of Doug Leigh, Michelle Leigh, Lee Barkell, Robert Tebby, and Jeffery Buttle (see their highlights below).

Doug Leigh, considered by many to be not only Canada's best coach, but one of the world's best, has a coaching schedule that reads like an international travel brochure; Berlin, Japan, China, Montreal, Stockholm, Colorado, New Jersey, Philadelphia, and oh yeah, tario. This month! Here's a man that finds himself heading for his 24th World Championships and when I asked him why he was in Sudbury today coaching a few of our rising stars says "I just love being part of other people's dreams - to grab people and pull out what's inside of them. Life is just.... give a kid a chance."

Wow. And after watching him a couple of hours and chatting a bit it was apparent... this man just means it. But how did he get here?

Now anyone who has read anything I've ever written knows I have a pride and patriotism for Northern Ontario that some find 'rather enthusiastic'. Having said that, even I have to admit, when forced, that we are not quite along a main route to.... well, much of anywhere at all. I have found it delightful, but surprising, to have had an opportunity to watch both Jeffery Buttle and Doug Leigh coaching here in the last few weeks. I've asked them both just what it was that we did that got their attention and brought them here. Their answers were simple, and the same. Wendy Philion, the Sudbury Skating Club's head coach.

It is Wendy's friendship and mutual respect with these awesome talents in the figure skating world that allows our youngsters the opportunity to breathe and absorb World Championship Atmosphere on a regular basis.

And who is Wendy Philion? She won't say. She smiles and glides off to the other end of the ice surface when asked. I have learned though that she met Doug Leigh as a child when they skated together in Schumacher Ontario and they have worked together and been friends ever since. I have learned that she has coached Jeffery Buttle since he was much shorter than he is now, and while they may not have started out fast friends (she's been quoted elsewhere as saying they started out "rocky") they certainly are close friends now, his admiration for her is easily seen. I have learned that she is well respected and liked tremendously by those at the top of Canada's figure skating world. And I know she hates green.

The most important thing that I have learned about Wendy Philion is that she is a very talented woman who obviously loves what she does and who works tirelessly to offer every possible opportunity to the young skaters in her charge. Because of her, and her alone it seems, young skaters in the North are blessed with a level of training, insight, talent and opportunity that they simply would not have access to otherwise.

Some future day when you have traveled to an exciting city to watch one of our Northern Ontario youngsters stand on a podium and bend their head to accept a world class medal, look around and I expect you'll see a small quiet dark haired woman not far away. She'll be there, and she won't be dressed in green.

- Mona

  • Doug Leigh
    • Coached World Champions and Olympic Medalists Brian Orser and Elvis Stojko
    • Coach of 2-time World Bronze Medalist Takeshi Honda
    • Coached at 23 World Championships
    • Coached at 6 Winter Olympic Games
    • Coached over 50 Canadian National Medalists including 6-time Canadian Ladies Champion Jennifer Robinson
    • His skaters have received 17 World and Olympic Medals
    • Doug is also one of the the coaches of Jeff Buttle and Ben Ferierra of Canada
  • Michelle Leigh
    • 1977 Canadian Novice Bronze Medallist of Canada
    • Has coached at 3 olympic games: Albertville (1992), Nagano (1998), and Salt Lake City (2002)
    • Coached athletes at 14 World Championships
    • Coached athletes at 20 Canadian Championships
    • Coached skaters at over 55 international events
    • Coached at 4 European Championships
    • Former and Present Students include: Jennifer Robinson, Jeff Langdon, Elvis Stojko, Takeshi Honda (JPN), Steven Cousins (GBR), Oula Jaaskelainen (FIN), Peter Johannson (SWE), Alice Sue Claeys (BEL), Helen Persson (SWE), Jan Erik Degernes (NOR)
  • Lee Barkell
    • Former National team member 1986 - 1990
    • Former National and International Champion
    • Skating qualifications: Gold Figures, Free, Pair, Dance, Skills
    • Junior and Senior National Team coach
    • Coach and Trainer of 45 National and International medalists, including National Champions and World Competitors
    • Coached at four World Championships
    • Coached at 2002 Winter Olympics
    • Coached at 11 consecutive Junior World Championships
    • Coach of 2003 Canadian Pair Champions Jacinthe Lariviere and Lenny Faustino and 2003 Canadian Men�s Silver Medalist Jeff Buttle
  • Robert Tebby
    • Gold Figures, Free Skating, Dance and Competitive Singles
    • Experience at all levels from basic skills to World and Olympic athletes
    • Specializing in technical aspects of singles skating as well as athlete management and overall packaging for individual skaters.
    • International level coach for 10 years, including: 14 Canadian Championships, 10 World Championships, and 3 Olympic Games
    • Seminar Co-ordinator for Mariposa's Seminars abroad
  • Jeff Buttle
    • 2nd Canadians 2003
    • 4th Four Continents 2003
    • 15th Worlds 2003
    • 7th Skate Canada 2002
    • 5th NHK Trophy 2002
    • 3rd Sears Open 2002
    • 3rd Canadians 2002
    • 1st Four Continents 2002


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