Supriya Ghosh (Editor)

Mariposa School of Skating

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Formation  1973 (1973)
Director  Doug Leigh
Headquarters  Barrie Molson Centre Allandale Recreation Center
Location  Barrie, Ontario, Canada
Coaches  Doug Leigh Lee Barkell David Islam

The Mariposa School of Skating, located in Barrie, Ontario, is a major figure skating training center in Canada.



The school was founded in Orillia, Ontario in 1973 by Doug Leigh and Tom Harrison. The school moved to Barrie in 1988 after the Orillia city council refused to allow the building of a new rink on land to be donated to the school by Georgian College.

The current head coaches at Mariposa are Leigh for singles, Lee Barkell for pairs, and David Islam for ice dancing.

Leigh began a novice skating career, but had to quit at age 16 to finish his schooling. However, he had the opportunity of competing in the Junior Championships of Canada in 1966, finishing in second place. In 1969 he began his coaching career and since embarking on the Mariposa skating school he has coached at 6 Olympic competitions and 26 World Championships. The name "Mariposa", which means "butterfly" in Spanish, refers to author Stephen Leacock's fictional name for Orillia, the school's original home.


The Mariposa School of Skating has many different programs and opportunities such as The Seminar, Summer School (an extension of the seminar), A Cooperative education program for High Performance Athletes,Spring school/Fall school, Canskate programs, and Power skating programs. Although this internationally known organization is acknowledged for coaching many well-known Olympic athletes, programs are provided even for the youngest and least experienced of groups. Worldwide, anyone is welcome to register for these programs and even though countries such as Canada and the USA are the more popular candidates, skaters from South Africa, China, Japan, and Europe are also known to have attend such events. By far, the most popular program is their Summer School program which in fact is an extension of "the Seminar". It usually begins mid-June, and can last from 4 days all the way up to 7 weeks of training. The common misconception is that this seminar only contains on-ice program training, however it in fact, contains many other components.

Components of the Seminar/Summer School are as follows:

On Ice training

  • Jump Techniques
  • Spin Techniques
  • New Judging System Component Mark Development
  • Performance and Theatre (Interpretation of music)
  • Field movements (Spirals, spread eagles, arm movements, etc.)
  • Stroking and Edges
  • Footwork
  • Off-Ice training

  • Mental training
  • Dartfish analysis
  • Jump Analysis
  • Spin Analysis
  • Warm Up theory
  • Parent sessions
  • Personal development
  • Athlete management (Healthy living, healthy eating, balancing life)
  • Off-Ice Movement Sessions

  • Dynamic Off-ice Warm up
  • Footwork ladder sessions
  • Off ice Jump classes
  • Performance and Theatre training
  • Dance classes (Hip hop, ballet, and Jazz)
  • Coaches

    The founders of Mariposa Skating School are Douglas Leigh, Lee Barkell, and David Islam, but there are actually many other coaches that participate in these seminars. Up to current date, there are 35 coaches at Mariposa, the main ones (other than the founders) being Robert Tebby and Michelle Leigh. They have been deemed as primary coaches due to their extensive experience and they've also both received their NCCP (National Coaching Certification Program) Level 4.

    Robert Tebby specializes in Gold figures, free skating, dance, and competitive singles. He has 26 years of experience in training both World and Olympic atheetes, and has coached at 14 Canadian Championships, 12 World Championships, and 3 Olympic Games. He is also familiar and keeps up-to-date with the constantly changing judging system from Sectional to World level.

    Michelle Leigh has been coaching for 29 years and specializes in singles, choreography, speaking, and Dartfish. She has experience teaching from beginner skaters all the way up to Olympic athletes. She has been a speaker for numerous figure skating events such as the 2010 Vancouver Excellence Series and the Petro Canada Sport Leadership National Event.

    Another unique feature of the Mariposa School of Skating is to either be coached by former champions, or be shown demonstrations (i.e. spins/jumps) by former or current champions that still train at this association. A few examples would be Jeffrey Buttle, Jennifer Robinson, Christopher Mabee, and Ben Ferreira

    The Charity Gala

    Since 1989, The Mariposa School of Skating has hosted an annual Charity Gala, usually held at the Barrie Molson Center in Barrie, Ontario. This event is sponsored by The Rotary Club of Barrie and proceeds go directly to the local charity projects of Royal Victoria Hospital Foundation "Rotary House". The Rotary House has provided lodging facilities close to cancer treatment which is valuable to both the patient and their families. This supports the dream of keeping families together during cancer treatment, and also to any future patients that may need this support. Since the initiation of this project, over 1 million dollars has been raised to support this foundation. Money has been raised by merchandising tickets to anyone interested in attending the Gala. The Gala involves producing an ice show where former champions voluntarily perform skating programs that are fun and entertaining for their audience to watch. It is similar to watching a live show or play, but the only difference is that skates are involved. Skaters that have performed in the Gala before are Jeffrey Buttle, Jame Sale & David Pelltier, Marie-France Dubreill & Patrick Lauzon, Jennifer Robinson, Annabelle Langois & Cody Hayes, Lesley Hawker, Melissa Briggs, Christopher Mabee, Steve Cousins, and many more. Mariposa School of Skating is also known for holding an Annual Celebrity Golf Tournament, which also may involve any of the above athletes. All proceeds of the event go towards the Alzheimer Society of Great Simcoe County which supports local Alzheimer patients and caregivers with the programs and services needed. Overall, the contributions of this skating club to the community has made quite a difference since its origin in 1973.

    Notable students and alumni

  • Jeffrey Buttle
  • Josée Chouinard
  • Steven Cousins
  • Meagan Duhamel
  • Lenny Faustino
  • Ben Ferreira
  • Cody Hay
  • Takeshi Honda
  • Oula Jaaskelainen
  • Tuğba Karademir
  • Kim Yuna
  • Anabelle Langlois
  • Jacinthe Larivière
  • Marcus Leminen
  • Kristina Lenko
  • Christopher Mabee
  • Danny Moir
  • Nobunari Oda
  • Brian Orser
  • Jennifer Robinson
  • Elvis Stojko
  • Tracey Wainman
  • Robert Paxton
  • References

    Mariposa School of Skating Wikipedia