Finding Bliss: Jackie and Doug Hole

‘Today, nothing brings the couple greater happiness than gliding over a gleaming sheet of ice at the Sunwave Centre in Salmon Arm, B.C., perfecting their figure-skating routines.

But Jackie, 70, and Doug, 73, aren’t just Sunday skaters — they regularly compete against skaters half their age. The couple feels the sport not only keeps them in top physical condition but also provides them with an outlet for their artistic expression. Skating, they feel, is the basis of their ongoing love affair, both on the ice and off.

Moving on the ice, Jackie and Doug skate close — holding hands or with an arm wrapped around the other’s waist, sometimes facing each other in a waltz position. It’s a magical bond. “Individually, it gives us the sense that we have total control of our minds and bodies. Sometimes, we bark at each other on the ice, but we also laugh a lot, too. It’s our playtime,” says Doug. “Plus, it’s strengthened our marriage. Everything we do, we do together.”

With family and work getting in the way (they had four sons), the Holes quit skating in 1972. However, a serious car accident in 2001 brought them officially back to the rink. The crash broke Doug’s rib, and they both suffered extensive compression bruising. Instead of physiotherapy, they decided to put their skates back on. “We wanted to build back our muscles and improve our flexibility,” says Jackie, describing how, after more than a 25-year hiatus, skating helped them recuperate, both physically and emotionally. “It’s like riding a bike. You don’t forget.”

Three years ago, the Holes began entering competitions. Skating in the category of free dance allows them to qualify even though other participants are at least half their age. But the age discrepancy hasn’t deterred them. Last February, Jackie won gold for her solo at the Western Canadian Adult Open Championships. Doug picked up a silver for his solo performance, and the pair won a silver in the open free dance competition.

Although the duo may not have the stamina they once had for the sport, they don’t plan on hanging up their skates anytime soon. “We skate day to day as our health permits,” says Jackie. “We’ll keep doing it as long as we’re physically able to skate safely together.”