Thursday, 21/6/2018 | : : UTC-7
Skate Today

Canadians Set the Stage

The 2008 Canadian National Championships kicked off this morning at the Pacific National Exhibition (PNE), in Vancouver, B.C. and will continue daily through Sunday. As Skate Canada rolls out the red carpet to its skaters and fans across the country, VANOC will be scrutinizing every problem that needs correction before 2010. The PNE will serve as home base for the figure skating and short track speed skating events during the Olympic Games.

One hundred and thirty-five competitors are on hand and the schedule is jam-packed with both junior and senior-level events in all four disciplines. Placements for the upcoming Four Continents, (Goyang City, Republic of Korea) and World Figure Skating Championships, (Gothenburg, Sweden) are at stake in the senior division. The junior-age eligible competitors will be jockeying for a position at the upcoming World Junior Championships to be held in Sophia, Bulgaria.

In the opening press conference, William Thompson, CEO of Skate Canada announced a two season broadcast agreement with CBC to broadcast the 2008 and 2009 World Championships and the 2009 Four Continents Championships which will be held here at the PNE in February, 2009. Mr. Thompson also stated that CBC has the option to include the Grand Prix Events in its 2009/2010 line-up.

Debbie Wilkes, Skate Canada Director of Marketing and Sponsorship, announced three new Skate Canada partnerships with Kraft Foods, Insurance Brokers of Canada, and Starwood Hotels. She also discussed a new program in which Skate Canada will utilize past champions to inspire up-and-coming young skaters.

“It used to be when you retired from eligible skating you were forgotten and nobody had time to talk to you,” shared Wilkes. “Under the new program past champions will be invited back to share their stories with the current competitors. This week you will see past alumni throughout the event and rather than the officials presenting the medals you will see past champions presenting them,” she added.

Three national champions are on hand in Vancouver to defend their title, 2006 Olympic bronze medalist Jeffrey Buttle, 2007 Skate America Champions Jessica Dube and Bryce Davison, and 2007 Skate Canada bronze medalist Joannie Rochette. Marie-France Dubreil and Patrice Lauzon, who won this event last season, are taking time off from eligible skating and will most likely be replaced by Skate Canada Champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir.

Buttle will have to be on top of his feet in order to fend off challenges from the likes of Trophee Bompard Champion, Patrick Chan, reigning Canadian silver medalist Christopher Mabee, and fourth place finisher last season, Shawn Sawyer. A wild card in the event will be, Fedor Andreev, who returns to the event after skipping two seasons due to injury. Outside challengers for a podium finish could include names like fifth place finisher at Skate Canada, Vaughn Chipeur, and 2006 Junior Canadian Champion Joey Russell.

In the ladies event, Rochette should prove to be golden for the forth time, but 2007 Canadian silver medalist, Mira Leung and 2007 Canadian bronze medalist, Lesley Hawker, hope to put an end to her reign. 2004 Champion Cynthia Phaneuf claims she is ready to return to be Canada’s leading lady and is here to prove her title in 2004 was no fluke. Outside shots for a podium finish should come from Amelie LaCoste, who place fifth in 2006, but had to withdraw from last season’s event, and Myriane Samson, who finished fifth last season.

Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir should dance away with the title by a large margin, but the battle for the other two world spots is wide open. Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje had a stellar season last year when they claimed the bronze medal in their first season together. Weaver and Poje were eclipsed by the much improved team of Allie Hann-McCurdy and Michael Coreno who finished fourth at Skate Canada. The 2007 Junior Canadian Champions Vanessa Crone and Paul Poirier who finished fourth at the Junior Grand Prix Final in December and 2006 fifth place finishers Mylene Girard and Liam Dougherty also hope to pose a challenge.

Dube and Davison have been at the top of their game all season and I think we can expect no less here, but Annabelle Langlois and Cody Hay along with Meagan Duhamel and Craig Buntin hope to capitalize on any mistake made by the Champions. Rachel Kirkland and Eric Bradford are long-shots but if the top contenders falter they have the ability to take a step up and have been training alongside World bronze medalists Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy of Germany.

The event continues throughout the day with junior compulsory and original dance, junior pairs, junior ladies, and winds up this evening with the senior compulsory dance.

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Skate Today was created in November 2004 to showcase the people of the skating world, skaters and coaches and others, who make figure skating and ice dancing a pleasure to watch for fans from around the world. The goal was to create a site that would give viewers an insight into the personalities of the people involved in this sport and to give you a more personal connection when watching them live at an event or on the television. Our staff knows how much time and dedication is put into this sport and that's why Skate Today was created.

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