Saturday, 18/11/2017 | : : UTC-8
Skate Today

No Slackers Welcome at Today’s Canadian Championships

With Olympic berths on the line, Canada’s top figured skaters showed up at the Canadian Championships here in London with their A game on and competed like they were fighting for their life.

First up on day two of the National Championships were the Canadian women. They took to the ice at John Labatt Centre ready to compete and with few exceptions that’s what they did.

Cynthia Phaneuf who topped the leader board at the end of the event, edged out veteran Joannie Rochette with a mesmerizing program that not only sailed her to the top of the standings, the program put a spell over the audience as well.

It was a truly special moment when the 2004 Canadian Champion pulled out all the stops and delivered an elegant routine to “Les Nocturne” by Debussy.

After falling three times on the Lutz in warm-up, she pulled off a huge triple Lutz/double toe combination during the program. Along with the Lutz, Phaneuf rocked her opening double Axel and a triple toe; plus managed all level four spins and a spiral.

The long-lined beauty from Contrecoeur, Quebec will celebrate her 22nd birthday tomorrow trying to capitalize on today’s short program to capture a spot on Canada’s Olympic Team.

In order for Phaneuf to earn that spot, she first needs to fight the consistency demon which has plagued her so many times in the past.

“I have been working hard on my confidence,” Phaneuf explained earlier this season.

“I have been working with a sports psychologist, and we have been dealing with my confidence and my nerves. I know I just have to believe in myself and look at the positives and learn from the rest.”

Today confidence appeared to be in abundance and the reigning national silver medalists nerves appeared to be in check. Not a whisper could be heard from the crowd until they erupted at the end of the program.

Phaneuf posted a new personal best score of 66.30 points edging Rochette by 2.15 points.

On the other hand, World silver medalist Joannie Rochette seemed to lack the fire and drive that won her that silver medal last season in Los Angeles.

After tumbling to the ice on her opening triple Lutz, the five-time Canadian Champion was able to regain her form to execute a strong triple flip/double toe combination and a solid double Axel. She received the maximum level four on her spins and spiral with the exception of the layback spin which garnered Rochette a level three for that element.

Rochette did not have the sparkle of Phaneuf today, but hung on to the second spot with a segment score of 64.15 points.

Rochette seemed discouraged but offered no excuses and plans to return fighting tomorrow.

2009 National bronze medalist Amelie Lacoste also produced a top notch skate and currently sits a distant third with 53.99 points with her season’s best performance. The 21-year-old from Delson, Quebec landed a gorgeous double Axel and a triple loop/double loop combination before falling on an under-rotated triple flip.

Myriane Samson placed fourth with a segment score of 53.51 points and Adriana DeSanctis finished fifth in today’s short program with 48.58 points. Three-time Canadian silver medalist Mira Leung is currently 15th with 36.45 points.

Next up 2008 Canadian Champions Anabelle Langlois, 28, and Cody Hay, 26, dazzled fellow Canadians with a tender presentation to “Fascination Waltz” by Fillippo Marchetti to take the early lead in the race to the Olympics. From start to finish every detail in the program appeared polished and woven into the program.

After missing almost the entire season last year due to Anabelle’s broken foot, the duo feels they are prepared and ready to compete.

“Obviously, we’re really happy with our program,” Hay stated.

“Last spring I never thought I would be able to compete again,” Langlois told Skate Today earlier this season. “I had to fight to get a plate removed they used to repair my ankle. The doctor’s didn’t want to remove it because they felt I could reinjure it. I just knew I could not compete. I fought with the doctor’s and after they removed the plate, once again I could land throw jumps.”

After opening with solid triple toe loops they opted to perform an easier double twist and go for the levels and grade of execution rather than go for the riskier triple twist. Except for one judge Langlois and Hay were awarded all level 2 GOE’s (Grade of Execution).

The throw triple Lutz was rock-solid as was there backward outside death spiral and circular steps. They maintained unison and flow throughout the program earning themselves first place marks of 65.47 points.

Reigning Canadian Champions Jessica Dube, 22, and Bryce Davison, 23, suffered from a fall by Jessica on a downgraded triple Salchow to land themselves in second place with 62.87 points. They earned positive GOE’s on their opening triple twist, throw triple loop, backward outside death spiral and straight-line steps. They seemed to lack their usual chemistry despite receiving the highest component scores of the event.

“Despite the Salchow we feel it was a pretty strong skate for us overall,” Davison stated in the post event press conference. “Obviously it wasn’t what we were looking for, but overall we’re happy.”

Nipping at their heels by less than half a point are reigning Canadian silver medalists Meagan Duhamel, 24, and Craig Buntin, 29. They skated a brilliant program to “Hotel California” that got the audience not only clapping, but dancing in their seats. The team from St. Leonard, Quebec has been battling back from injury after Megan hurt herself at Skate America earlier this season.

“I have nerve damage in my leg,” Duhamel told Skate Today. “We don’t know if it is permanent or not, we just have to take time and wait and see. It is my landing leg so it makes the throw jumps, especially difficult.”

Despite the injury Duhamel and Buntin showed no signs of wear today. Like Langlois and Hay, they opted for the easier double twist, but they earned a level three on the element as well as positive GOE’s.

They skated with speed and aggression. They looked like a team on a mission. The landed a side-by-side triple toe and a throw triple Lutz without difficulty to pick up a segment score of 62.38 points.

“We wanted to have fun most of all. We wanted to give a performance, and I think that’s what we did. We told each other, if we perform, and we have fun, and we have speed, the elements will fall into place,” Buntin told the press. “The focus today was on the performance and the elements did fall into place today.”

Reigning Canadian bronze medalists Mylene Brodeur and John Mattatal are currently fourth with 60.33 points and Paige Lawrence and Rudi Sweigers are fifth with 58.22 points.

In the dance event, two-time World medalists Tessa Virtue, 20, and Scott Moir, 22, put on a performance of a lifetime to wow the audience with their interpretation of Pepe Romero’s “Farrucas”.

They skated with fire and passion while exhibiting complicated lifts and step sequences that earned the duo a well deserved standing ovation.

“It’s nice to skate here at home. It helps to prepare us for what we will face in Vancouver being the home favorites,” Moir stated about the added pressure of skating at home.”

Their performance level has moved up a few notches since competing with this program in Tokyo last December — where they placed second to training mates Meryl Davis and Charlie White.

“No, it wasn’t (the result) at the final. Training with Meryl and Charlie every day, forces us to improve daily, so really it’s not competition. It’s our training,” Moir stated about the motivation behind the improvement of the program.

Virtue and Moir who appear to be a shoe-in for their third consecutive title, currently sit twenty points ahead of their closest competitor Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje after the original dance.

Virtue and Moir danced with superior technique and exhibited four very well-done elements …. All with very high GOE’s. They gathered 70.15 points for their original dance.

Kaitlyn Weaver, 20, and Andrew Poje, 22, pulled up to second place pverall, and over rivals Vanessa Crone and Paul Poirier after the original dance by a mere .02 points.

The battle has been set up for tomorrow and one can only speculate if this push at the end is enough to capture an Olympic berth.

Their Flamenco was skated with confidence. It carried a genuine authentic Flamenco flavor and was skated superbly. Deep flowing edges, great speed and confidence, all words that can be used to describe today’s performance. Donning authentic flamenco attire and equipped with a Spanish fan Weaver and Poje capitalized on their assets to move closer to reach their goal of making the 2010 Olympic Team.

They opened with a strong straight-line lift and then went straight into a synchronized sequence — both of which received the maximum level four. Their other two elements a non-touching mid-line step sequence and their circular steps were awarded level three by the technical panel.

Vanessa Crone, 19, and Paul Poirier, 18, also produced a strong skate which earned the 2009 silver medalists 57.50 points—a new season’s best.

Like the two teams ahead of them, Crone and Poirier delivered a dramatic and powerful program. Skating to “Eri Malaga” by Rager Scannura the Scarboro based team opened with an exquisite no touch midline step sequence that was so well done they earned six +2 GOE’s from the judges. Their rotational lift was even stronger and was graded level four by the technical panel, and they earned straight +2 GOE’s for that element. Their diagonal step sequence which was graded a mere level two which caused them to drop behind Weaver and Poje.

“We were happy with our program and where it is right now,” Poierier stated while wiping sweat from his brow. “There are just so many great dancers in Canada and the competition is very tough. We love our free dance, and tomorrow we will go out and skate our best. The rest is up to the judges.”

“Tessa and Scott are just great role models,” Crone added. “Off the ice we are all friends and we wish them only the best.

Allie Hann McCurdy and Michael Coreno pulled up one spot overall to finish fourth after the original dance where they earned a segment score of 52.05 points. Tarrah Harveyand Keith Gagnon are currently fifth after producing an original dance worth 49.59 points.

The Canadian men posted a plethora of personal bests.

Patrick Chan, 19, Canada’s number one man led at the end of the evening by a whopping 11.27 point over teammate Vaughn Chipeur, 25, who had the skate of his life to post a new personal best score of 78.87 points. Joey Russell, 21, currently sits third after he smashed his best and received a segment score of 74.04 points.

Chan the reigning World silver medalist from Los Angeles skated last and delivered an elegant skate to “Tango de los Exilados” by Walter Taieb. To say it was the most superior skate of the night would be true, but to say it was worth the 90.14 points he was awarded, I think not.

When asked about the score Patrick laughed and said: “I think the other guys in the World would have something to say about that. You know it’s kind of like Plushenko in Russia.”

Chan while putting out a good skate it certainly wasn’t perfect.

Chan blasted out of the gate like a race horse with a huge triple Axel, but the Torontonian quickly ran into trouble, putting his hand down on the ice on the triple flip and having to omit the triple toe planned after. Chan regrouped and turned a planned triple Lutz into a triple Lutz/double toe combination.

His non-jumping elements were extremely strong and he was awarded a level four for all elements including his footwork.

Reigning Canadian silver medalist Vaughn Chipeur admits he had the skate of his life and offered no comments about Chan’s marks.

“I can’t complain, I am happy with the way I skated tonight,” Chipeur stated. “After my results on the Grand Prix we decided to go back to my last year’s program. I believe it was the right decision.”

If one thought Chan’s triple Axel was good Chipeur’s was amazing. He earned +2 GOE from each judge on the panel for his efforts. Unlike Chan Chipeur landed the triple flip/triple toe combination and a strong triple Lutz as well. He managed level fours on all his spins, but lost points on the footwork when his serpentine step sequence was called level two by the technical panel.

Joey Russell, 21, rounded out the top three and executed a top notch short program as well. Finishing sixth at the 2009 Championships the youngster felt he had a shot at the podium this season.

“I worked very hard this season in order to come up with this program, I just can’t tell you how excited I am for everyone to see in competition, what I do each day in practice.”

2008 Canadian bronze medalist Shawn Sawyer is currently fourth with 72.93 points and Kevin Reynolds sits fifth with 67.39 points.

The event continues Saturday with the pair and men free skates along with the free dance.

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