A former gold-medal winning Canadian Olympian dropped by the Spruce City Skating Club this week to help the students with their flexibility training as they prepare for the skating season.
Lori Fung won the first-ever gold medal awarded in rhythmic gymnastics during the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. For the past decade Fung has worked with numerous athletes on their flexibility in Vancouver.
When her son Alexander Methorst was invited to Prince George last weekend to tryout for the Prince George Cougars, Fung gave Spruce City director of skating Rory Allen a call to see if she could work with some of his athletes.
It didn't take Allen long to let his athletes know about an impromptu session Monday afternoon at the Elksentre Arena, which about a dozen skaters showed up for to work with the 2004 Canadian Sports Hall of Fame inductee. Fung was inducted in the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame in 1985.
"Several years ago I came up to Prince George and did a figure skating seminar," recalled Fung. "I saw so many fabulous skaters up here with a lot of potential.
"What I was doing [Monday] is the off ice flexibility program that's my specialty," she added. "I work with not only figure skaters, but with gymnasts, dancers, trick skateboarders and hockey players all needing the component of flexibility. Some need it for the aesthetic value, others need it for injury prevention. Flexibility is the root of all sport."
She said that rhythmic gymnastics is known for it's flexibility so it's a natural fit for her to teach other athletes to learn how to stretch their muscles to achieve a more flexible body.
Among the Spruce City skaters at the workout was Danielle Sidsworth, a 17-year-old novice skater who was surprised with some of the exercises.
"We learned how to go deeper into a stretch, which hurts, but it feels good especially knowing you get more flexible," said Sidsworth.
After the hour-long session was over, Fung pulled out her gold medal, allowing a few of the students to put it around their necks.
"It was really cool, different than I expected," said Sidsworth. "It was a lot heavier."
Fung said her memories of winning the medal came floating back when she was watching the London Games.
"It brings back the feelings and the memories like they were yesterday," said the 49 year old. "It's never going to change. The goose bumps that I got when I was watching an athlete prepare to go for their event. It was 28 years ago but I still remember."
She said she would like to return to Prince George for another flexibility session with the Spruce City skaters this winter and, perhaps she'll be visiting her son a year from now. Methorst, 14, was among the early cuts from the Cougars and he returned to Vancouver to prepare for the final tryout with the B.C. Major Midget League's Greater Vancouver Canadians.
"Maybe they'll watch him this year," said Fung about her middle son. "I think what he learned here is going to take him a step up and I really think it's going to help him."
After being recognized for 28 years as a gold medal winning Olympian, Fung said she enjoys her new role watching her three boys fulfill their sports dreams.
"Now I'm a hockey mom," she said.