Marly Rieger credits family's support to her success
A Canadian figure skater has a 0.08 per cent chance of making it to the Olympics, according to statistics provided by Skate Canada.
Calgary teenager Marly Rieger, 14, hopes to become one of those Olympians.
"I just feel like I belong there," Marly said.
As of 2013, there are 2,441 competitive figure skaters registered with Skate Canada across the country.
Only 20 of these athletes will make the national team, which is split into four categories: senior men's, senior ladies, senior pairs and senior ice dance. Typically, only one to three competitors qualify for the Olympics, based on world championship results.
Marly's blades first hit the ice when she was only four years old. She had entered and won her first competition by the time she was six.
"I kinda figured out what I wanted to do when I was young, so I just continued that plan," she said.
Marly's grandfather, Archie Rieger, spotted his granddaughter's talent and potential very early on.
"She really liked it, but she couldn't skate," Archie said. "So we put her in CanSkate, and by the time she had her first half hour in there, she could skate by herself and when she fell, she could get up by herself. I thought like, 'Holy cow, this is unreal.'"
Archie and his wife Arlene, who passed away two years ago from cancer, raised Marly and her sister Bailee, 16, after their mother left them about seven years ago.
Archie, along with his daughter, Collette Wurr and her husband, are now all involved in raising Marly and supporting her busy skating schedule. Marly's family and coaches say her dream to skate for Canada is attainable.
Rieger now trains at WinSport's Canada Olympic Park five days a week. Cody Hay, one of her coaches and former Olympic pairs skater, said that Marly has both the mental and physical capabilities to compete at the highest level.
"You're looking for that extra piece," Hay said. "You see someone like Marly and you can kind of picture her being there. You can see that she has the drive and the determination, as well as the talent."
However, Hay said that there is still a lot of work ahead of Rieger to get her to that point. He added that the window of opportunity for figure skating is very short in comparison to a sport like Major League Baseball, where there are 162 games per season.
"You train an entire year and basically it comes down to like three minutes," Hay said.
Marly said that her tenacity comes from her upbringing. And her intensity for following her passion is supported by her close-knit family.
- By Alyssa Quirico, Donella Swan