Hammonds Plains girl aims to shatter world record, help terminally ill children
HALIFAX – A Hammonds Plains girl is up for a dizzying feat.
Olivia Oliver, 11, is only in grade six but she is attempting to shatter a world record originally set by a figure skater in her 20s – Olivia wants to become the fastest spinner on ice skates.
“It would be the best experience ever,” she said.
Currently, the world record is held by Natalia Kanounnikova, who reached 308 rotations per minute; in a recent practice, Olivia just passed 300 rotations per minute.
It’s a daunting task for any skater, let alone one who has only been figure skating for four years.
“I have to find the right spot on my blade to spin,” she said. “Once I find that spot, I know it and I squeeze. I pull myself all together as fast as I can and that makes me go much faster.”
The aspiring figure skating Olympian said the feeling is hard to describe.
“I see blur around the whole ice. It’s like I’m lightheaded or something. it feels really weird sometimes. Sometimes it feels normal because I do it a lot.”
“I sometimes look at my hands. I don’t look at anything else around me otherwise I would have been like, ‘Whoa, what’s going on?'” she said.
Skating coach Charleen Cameron has been teaching Olivia for several years and said the youngster has always had a love of spinning on the ice.
“She has the right structure and she certainly does practice as well as she has the right stuff to do it, that right technique,” she said.
“It’s a little bit of a natural talent to her.”
Cameron said Olivia’s determination sets her apart from other figure skaters wanting to attempt the same thing.
“When I watch her, I just think ‘She can actually do this’.”
The little girl’s talent also has father Garry Oliver in awe. He said Olivia started skating after the family immigrated to Hammonds Plains in an attempt to become more Canadian.
“I cannot comprehend it. I can go around once and I fall over. I feel nauseated. I have no comprehension how she does it actually,” he said.
But Olivia is after more than the world record – she is using her talents for a good cause and trying to raise money for Fundacja Dziecieca Fantazja, her parents’ charity in their native Poland, as well as Leave Out Violence, also known as LOVE.
Garry and his wife founded Fundacja Dziecieca Fantazja in 2004 and it aims to grant wishes to terminally ill children. Wishes can range from new cell phones and laptops to trips to Disney World and meeting the Pope.
Donations normally come from the public but Olivia is using her world record attempt at a gala in Poland in November to raise money for the charity.
“People donate money to make those wishes come true for them and that’s what I’m doing for them. I’m raising as much money as I can for them,” she said.
Garry said the charity works on 1,000 wishes for terminally ill children at any given time.
“So we got together as a family and said ‘Hey Olivia, why don’t we have a target? Why don’t we try and make 100 of these wishes come true before Christmas?'”
For her part, Olivia said she hopes other people see her attempt and think beyond figure skating.
“I want them to think of helping others.”