Sports

Li carrying on Connaught tradition of excellence

By Don Fennell

Published 10:33 PDT, Mon August 31, 2020

Last Updated: 2:13 PDT, Wed May 12, 2021

David Li remembers landing his first waltz jump. It still stands out among favourite moments in a flourishing figure skating career.

“I was very happy. That gave me a lot of encouragement to keep on achieving more in the sport,” says the talented 13-year-old Richmondite.

Li is a member of the legendary Connaught Skating Club, the province’s oldest and second oldest in the country, founded in 1911 by Mrs. H.G. Ross under the patronage of His Royal Highness, the Duke of Connaught.

In the early days, members skated in the old Denman Arena which in those days was also home to Vancouver’s first and only Stanley Cup champion Vancouver Millionaires. The maroon-clad Millionaires won the trophy in 1915 with Hockey Hall of Famer Fred (Cylone) Taylor its top player and Frank Patrick as coach and manager.

As it happens, Li is a huge hockey fan. In fact, his dad notes that David wanted to play hockey before he found his niche in skating.

“I really like watching hockey with my friends, especially the Canucks. My favourite player on the team is (goaltender Jacob) Markstrom.”

Since the Connaught Skating Club moved to the then-new Minoru Arena in 1965, it has continued a tradition of excellence with numerous members achieving great success provincially, nationally and internationally. Li is the latest to join that fraternity, having won silver in Pre-Novice Men’s at the 2019 Skate Canada Challenge. That qualified him for the Canadian Tire National Skating Championships this past January. He also won bronze at the Canada Winter Games.

Li demonstrated an immediate passion for skating; from the first time he stepped on the ice in the Can Skate program.

“He’s very passionate about the sport, and really loves doing it,” his dad says.

Li remains as dedicated to his craft, even if recently that’s meant having to travel to Burnaby five days a week to practice with the Richmond rinks closed.

With an ultimate dream of representing Canada internationally, and competing at the Olympic Games, Li literally spends hours working on his jumps and spins. The positive vibes he gets from judges in competition makes all the work and repetition worth it.

“I think my greatest strengths are my spins, and performing,” he says. 

Coached by Keegan and Eileen Murphy, Li is grateful for their ongoing analysis and support.

“He’s got incredibly fast rotation in the air,” says Keegan. “He is extremely technically skilled for his young age. He has improved most in his ability to blend artistry with triple jump athleticism. This is an incredible skill for someone so young, and his performance level with the audience is out of this world. His ceiling is limitless. He has all the characteristics to become a Canadian champion one day.”

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