Olympic Champions Virtue & Moir return home

Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir will return home today to celebrate their Olympic gold medals. A parade will run though the main streets of the town making way to the Ilderton Arena and Fair Grounds where the celebration ceremony will begin.

Several dignitaries and representatives from local community organizations will be giving speeches and dedications.

If you are in the area you can join the Ilderton community in paying tribute to the outstanding achievements of its local stars!

Saturday, June 12, 2010
15:00 – Parade
17:00 – Celebration Ceremony
18:30 – 23:00 – Reception

Photo by Brett Barden

Davis and White win Ramsay Trophy

Olympic silver ice dance medalists Meryl David and Charlie White were presented with the Ramsay Trophy for their silver medal achievements at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver and the World Championships in Torino. The team also won the 2009 & 2010 U.S. Figure Skating Championships.

Davis and White currently train at the Artic Figure Skating Club in Canton with Igor Shpilband and Marina Zoueva.

The Detroit Skating Club has presented the Doug Ramsay Trophy to figure skaters since 1961. The award is named after Doug Ramsay, 1960 U.S. Junior Champion, who was killed in a horrific plane crash in 1961 along with the entire U.S. Figure Skating world team en route to the World Championships.

We agree these two are very deserving of the award. Congratulations on your incredible season.

Photo by Brett Barden

2011 BMO Canadian Championships tickets on sale now

All-event ticket packages for both the 2011 BMO Canadian Figure Skating Championships and the 2011 BMO Junior Nationals are now on sale. Both events are being held in Victoria, BC starting with the juniors on January 17th followed by the seniors on January 21st.

All-event tickets for seniors are $150 and junior nationals are $30 plus applicable surcharges.

Buy your tickets online at www.selectyourtickets.com, by phone at 1.866.514.5050 or in person at the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre box office.

Are you making the journey to the capital of British Columbia?

Belbin and Agosto announce retirement

Five-time U.S. Ice Dance Champions and 2006 Olympic silver medalists Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto have announced their retirement from competitive skating. After more than a decade of competing the pair will continue skating professionally.

“We have accomplished and surpassed so many of our goals, from participating in two Olympic Games to pushing ourselves and developing our skills in this sport we love so much,” Belbin said. “We feel we can move on from our competitive careers without regret.”

Belbin and Agosto are four-time World medalists and ended their career training under Natalia Linichuk and Gennadi Karponosov. Prior to switching coaches in 2008 they trained with Igor Shpilband and Marina Zoueva.

At their final competition of their career the team finished fourth at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver.

“The world of skating has given us so much, the most valuable of which being the friendships and ‘family’ we have developed over the years,” Agosto said.

“We would like to thank our coaches, family, friends, fans and U.S. Figure Skating for their endless support throughout our journey,” Belbin continued.

Photo by Brett Barden

Gorshkov elected President of Russian Federation

Former world and Olympic ice dance champion Aleksandr Gorshkov has been elected president of the Russian Figure Skating Federation. He replaces longtime president Valentin Piseyev.

“It’s a great privilege for me but also brings a lot of responsibility,” Gorshkov told reporters. “It’s also something of a new role for me but I have enough experience to lead Russian figure skating to new heights.”

The move comes after Piseyev stepped down following a poor team showing at the Olympic Games in Vancouver.

Your time will come… the Russians will own the podium again in Sochi.

Mira Leung brings red to the runway to raise awareness for women’s heart health

Canadian figure skater Mira Leung struts her stuff at the 2010 Heart Truth Fashion Show in an outfit designed by Patrice Sokü.

The 2010 Heart Truth Fashion Show saw 20 celebrities model one-of-a-kind red dresses by top Canadian fashion designers to raise awareness about women’s risk for cardiovascular disease. LG Fashion Week’s hottest ticket event took place on Wednesday, March 31 at Allstream Centre at Exhibition Place in Toronto.

Canadian celebrities modelling original red dresses in this year’s Heart Truth Fashion Show included: Joannie Rochette, Erin Cebula, Keshia Chanté, Jane Francisco, Robin Gill, Marci Ien, Tanya Kim, Silken Laumann, Mira Leung, Sheila McCarthy, Anne-Marie Mediwake, Tracy Moore, Leah Pinsent, Caroline Rhea, Kathleen Robertson, Crystal Shawanda to name a few.

So what do you think of Mira’s new look?

We are liking Mira’s new grown-up look and hopefully she will bring it to the ice this year.

Mittan Sidelined for Olympics and Worlds

Well-known figure skating journalist and photographer J. Barry Mittan had to miss the remainder of the 2009-10 season to have heart surgery. Mittan was rushed to the emergency room in Lake Placid in November while returning home from covering Skate America and Skate Canada. He also underwent multiple procedures to check for cancer and may require further surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder.

“I’ve taken a real beating the last few years while covering skating,” Mittan said. “It’s not always as glamorous a job as one might think. I’ve had more injuries than I ever did when I was in the circus. At Europeans, I had to photograph all day while standing with an injured left leg and holding the camera with an injured right arm. There’s not many events where you get to sit and shoot any more.”

“When you work 18-20 hours straight for several days in a row at a competition, it’s hard to keep yourself healthy,” he continued. “I’ve had a strained, sprained, pulled or torn muscle in every part of my body over the last few years. I think Warsaw was the worst where I had seven different injuries by the end of the event.”

“I had hoped to have the heart surgery in late January,” Mittan said, “but I caught a virus while covering Europeans and had to postpone it.”

“As I didn’t know what complications might arise I canceled my events for the remainder of the 2009-10 season. I transferred my Olympic photography credentials to Brett Barden and recommended a couple of good German photographers, Torsten Gruen and Sabine Hoehner, to cover Worlds and Junior Worlds for Pirouette and the other media that need coverage.”

Mittan does many of the photographs for the magazines Doppio Axel in Italy and OzSkater in Australia as well as Germany’s Pirouette. He also provides many photographs used on websites like Skate Today and GoldenSkate as well as articles for other major skating websites like icenetwork.com.

Mittan is uncertain about his return next season.

“It’s pretty expensive covering skating these days,” Mittan noted, “especially when you are paying a lot of the costs yourself. Airfares and hotel costs are both pretty high. I average about $2,000 per event in costs before I even walk in the door and that’s hard to recover. I usually have to do at least three different jobs per event to break even.”

“Hopefully, I’ll be back by the beginning of the Grand Prix season,” Mittan stated, “but that all depends on my health and future contracts.”

Chilliwack hosts the Canadian Synchronized Championships

Buses… Buses… and more buses. That’s the scene outside the Prospera Centre and around town in Chilliwack, BC, population hovering around 70,000. With all the buses around this agricultural driven city, one would think the Spice Girls were holding their final reunion performance. But look closely at these buses and you will realize Posh, Scary, Ginger, Baby or Sporty are nowhere to be found. These buses are filled with athletic women. They are singing, chanting, having a blast and their enthusiastic energy is infectious, similar to Spice Girl fans.

There are 1,287 skaters on sixty-nine teams at the 2008 BMO Skate Canada Synchronized Figure Skating Championships competing in Chillwack this weekend. From Coast to Coast, 930 skaters have traveled to Chilliwack to compete in the Festival division and 357 skaters will compete in the Competitive division.

This year marks the 25th Anniversary of the Skate Canada Synchronized Skating Championships. The top competitive teams from across Canada are competing for national titles in the senior, junior, novice and adult categories. The top two senior teams will represent Canada at the 2008 ISU World Synchronized Skating Championships in Budapest, Hungary, at the end of March.

The Festival SynchroSkate Program gives skaters the opportunity to compete at a national level competition. Festival teams will compete in the Festival Open, Festival Novice, Festival Junior and Festival Adult categories.

The event kicks off later this evening the Festival Novice, Adult and Junior Free skate programs. On Friday, the event continues with additional skates from the Festival Novice, Adult and Junior teams followed by the Junior and Senior Competitive short programs. On Saturday, the Festival Open short program kicks off the day followed by Competitive Novice, Adult, Junior and Senior Free programs. The competition wraps up on Sunday with the Festival Open Free Skate program followed by the Novice and Adult Competitive Free skates.

If you have never seen a Synchronized Skating Competition before, hop on the Trans Canada Hwy and head to the farmlands of Chilliwack, BC and check out this great event. From watching a few early practices, you can tell these teams are the best in the country. They have military style training, but on skates every move, every hold, every formation, is crisp, clean, sharp, controlled and in sync. But somehow, these teams have maintained the beauty, elegance and grace of figure skating. When these teams are skating, you quickly forget there is no Jeff Buttle or Joannie Rochette vying for a national title and landing triple jumps. The number of skaters and the accuracy of their synchronization will wow you. When watching the skaters, you realize the importance of unison because one slipup can have a major domino effect. Prior to taking to the ice, each team erupts in song or chant and from the moment you see them, you realize skating is a team sport regardless what hockey and football fans think.

The event practices officially kicked off this morning and it is clear these skaters have passion and spirit and truly represent skating in Canada.

Tickets are still available for the Championships. Day passes are $10 for Adults and Children 12 and under are only $3. Seating is general admission. Tickets available on line at www.ticketmaster.ca, by phone 1-800-663-9311 or in person at the Canlan Ice Sports Prospera Centre Box Office located at 45323 Hodgins Road.

Watch for more coverage by Skate Today. Photos will be available at www.skatecanada.ca and www.skatetoday.com during the event.