Fine-tuning her blades of summer

Nicholas Mercer
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Young skater from Bareneed to attend training camp in Florida

Bareneed's Jenna Efford has been selected to Skate Newfoundland and Labrador's Junior Team and will travel to Florida for a training camp at the end of June for two weeks.

It's 11:30 a.m. at the Bay Arena in Bay Roberts and 10-year-old Jenna Efford of Bareneed is warming up on a sheet of clean ice.

She effortlessly goes through her routine, gliding, sometimes jumping, up and down the ice.

If you get the chance to watch Jenna skate, take notice of the smile etched on her face as she works through her routine.

It's a smile of joy and delight, one that makes onlookers in the stadium stop to watch her perform.

One bystander asks Jenna to go through her routine one more time, and applauds as she finishes at centre ice.

Jenna is the daughter of Joanne and John Efford Jr., and the granddaughter John Efford, a well-known former provincial and federal politician. She is gearing up for a trip to Ellenton, Florida to train with world and Olympic coaches from June 25-July 6.

"I'm excited to go," Jenna stated during a March 23 interview.

While in Florida, Jenna will receive on and off-ice instruction.

It's an opportunity that came her way after placing third at the 2012 Skate Newfoundland and Labrador Sectional Championships in the juvenile division.

"Jenna's placement at sectionals, named her as a member of Skate Canada's Newfoundland Junior Team," said Joanne.

Jenna and 21 others from around the province will get the opportunity to travel to Florida for the chance to train with international coaches.

At 10, Jenna will be the youngest skater going on the trip, and the only one from the Conception Bay North region.

"I'm not nervous about going," Jenna said.

She said she loves skating and will be in her "comfort zone" on the ice in the Sunshine State.

Actually, Joanne may be the more nervous of the two.

"She'll be going to another country, by herself. Parents aren't allowed to go," she said. "But, I know she is totally ready to take this next step."

Jenna will be travelling with her two coaches, Neil Thorne and Lori Brett. Brett is also executive director with Skate Canada Newfoundland and Labrador.

While down south, Jenna said she is most looking forward to working on her double jumps, and meeting new people.

Brett said the organization is pleased to provide young skaters with the opportunity to train with world and Olympic coaches.

"We hope the opportunity will provide our skaters with the necessary exposure as they train for Atlantic, national and international events," she said in an email.

Joanne said the camp "is the opportunity of a lifetime" for her daughter.

"It is purely the result of Jenna's work ethic, dedication and positive attitude," she said.

"It's an opportunity to be the best skater that I can be," Jenna added.

Competitive balance

Jenna has been skating since she was two, and skating competitively since age four.

She is listed as skating with the Mount Pearl Skating Club, but her desire to be the best skater she can be takes her all over the Northeast Avalon in search of ice time.

Jenna is a dedicated young athlete. She skates two-and-a-half hours a day, six days-a-week to go along with off-ice training four days-a-week, and dance classes three days-a-week in St. John's.

"I enjoy doing all of it," said Jenna.

Through all of her dedication to her craft, Jenna and her parents understand school is the most important thing.

"She commutes back and forth to St. John's for ice time and coaching, often meaning doing homework and studying in the back of the vehicle," said Joanne.

For Jenna, the backseat of the family pick-up becomes "a makeshift change room and study area" during trips in and out of St. John's, according to her mom.

The trip to St. John's is $40 more expensive for the Effords than Jenna's St. John's counterparts. The $40 covers gas and expenses, while everything else is the same. That includes the $45 fee per hour for Level III coaches.

Jenna maintains an A average at Amalgamated Academy in Bay Roberts, where she is a Grade 5 student.

"I eat, sleep and skate and I love every minute of it," she said.

Organizations: Skate Canada Newfoundland and Labrador, Mount Pearl Skating Club, Amalgamated Academy Grade 5

Geographic location: Florida, Bay Roberts, St. John's Ellenton Canada Sunshine Northeast Avalon

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