Carving Dreams

Story by Josie Randall

Winter 2023/24

Savanna Martel can’t remember what it was like stepping on the ice when she was just two years old, but she certainly remembers all the training she’s had over the years.

“My parents introduced me to skating as a recreational activity, but it really evolved into a competitive passion,” says Martel.

“I began ice dancing specifically about five years ago and fell in love with it. Growing up with the sport, I had done plenty of different styles over the years but ice dancing, in particular, made me re-fall in love with skating. So it was easy to stick with it.”

Training to win

As a graduate of W.H. Croxford High School in Airdrie and currently a communications and media studies student at the University of Calgary, 18-year-old Martel manages to balance her academic pursuits with her rigorous skating routine.

Martel skates every morning, Monday to Friday, spending hours on the ice each day. Off the ice, Martel and her partner William Oddson of Calgary, also train in ballroom dancing and take specialized Pilates classes.

“It is very physically demanding, but I like pushing my body,” says Martel.

“Ice dancing in particular is what I mostly train in and compete in. We focus on artistry, lifts and intricate moves, rather than jumps. It’s more performance-based, and I really like that.”

The international stage

In 2023, Martel and Oddson finished third in Skate Canada’s Next Gen Competition, earning a place on the Next Gen team. They were then sent to represent Team Canada for the ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating in Linz, Austria, from Aug. 30 to Sept. 2, 2023.

The pair placed ninth overall.

“That was really the first time I had ever left North America, so it was really a crazy experience,” says Martel. “I won’t ever forget it, representing Canada for the first time on the international stage. It was surreal.”

Over the next few months Martel and Oddson will train for the Junior World Championships in Taiwan at the end of 2023. She has dreams of representing Team Canada on the biggest world stage in sports.

“What I love about skating is the joy it gives me,” say Martel. “When I am lacing up or putting on my competition clothes, I feel like I can really do anything if I put my mind to it.

“The ultimate dream is the Olympics. The experience in Austria was incredible, and I want to keep exploring the world through skating.”