Seven years ago Julia Funk arrived in Toronto from Munich, Germany looking to further her competitive skating career.
The 14-year-old seems shy, seated beside her mom, Alla Parkhomchuk, at Larry Grossman Memorial Arena, but she opens up about how in Munich there was only one figure skating club and one arena, the Olympic Stadium, to hone her skills.
The Funk family was awestruck by the opportunities for more skating available in Toronto.
“It’s a little bit easier to skate here in Toronto and for her to go after her passion,” Parkhomchuk said. “Everywhere here, club, club, club.”
It was Valerie Calver who discovered Funk, an 8-year-old in 2007, and started to teach her.
Parkhomchuk was also seeking out opportunities to teach students as she fell in love with ice skating at an early age in Kiev, Ukraine. While living in Munich for 11 years, she started to teach Julia to skate by age 2 “and discovered I loved it.”
Julia, now entering pre-novice competitions, admits it was a little daunting at first.
“I used to like watching people skate before I would compete because I had some good experiences with that,” she said. “But since I moved to the higher level, it didn’t.”
Funk had success in the pre-juvenile level, placing second in the Octoberfest skate, and fourth in the Skate Canada Sectionals.
At the Central Ontario STARSkate Championships in February she finished 21st.
Regardless, she’s looking forward to the new season at the Forest Hill Figure Skating Club, which starts Sept. 7. She’ll be entering the season looking for a new coach as well.
“I’m going with a new coach, and I hope to do better than last year,” she said.
Outside of her club skating, Funk takes piano lessons twice a week, was on the honour role for math, and plans to start a figure skating club at Forest Hill Collegiate.
That’s a bold move for a freshman.
“I have some friends who are also going to Forest Hill. We’re going to ask if we can have a team.”
As for the pre-novice jitters, Funk’s shrugging them off.
“It’s more like achieving new things rather than the competitions,” she said. “Last year I didn’t do as many competitions, but I was still very happy with my skating.”