CBC Digital Archives

Paul and Isabelle Duchesnay, ice dancers

Paul Duchesnay was born in France in 1961, and his sister Isabelle followed two years later, in 1963, in Aylmer, Que., where they grew up and learned to skate. Since 1985 they have competed for France, but they call Canada home, and they claim a place in Canada's heart in spite of their unpopular decision to leave. In this 1988 CBC Radio clip, the sister and brother pair discuss their results in the previous evening's ice dancing competition at the Calgary Olympics. They share their feelings about their unusual choreography, the judges' reactions, the crowd's enthusiasm, their decision to skate for France and their love of Canada.
• Creating their choreography in collaboration with Christopher Dean (of Torvill and Dean fame, 1984 Olympic gold medalists), the Duchesnays' ice dancing was experimental, daring and unconventional. The crowds were always delighted by their imaginative and unexpected maneuvers, but the judging establishment was slow to warm up to them.
  • At the 1998 Olympics in Calgary, the Duchesnays were crowd favourites, earning standing ovations both evenings that they competed. However, the judges were divided, and their marks ranged between 5.0 and 5.8. They placed eighth. In a CBC-TV interview the next day, the Duchesnays talked about the figure skating tradition of "waiting your turn," which requires competitors to prove themselves over time, moving slowly up an invisible ladder of success.

• The Duchesnays climbed the ladder slowly and steadily. In 1989, the year after the Calgary Olympics, they took bronze in the world championships. The following year they took silver, and the year after that, in 1991, they became the world champions. The next year was an Olympic year, and in Albertville, France -- skating for France -- they won a silver.

• Isabelle Duchesnay and Christopher Dean were married in 1991. They divorced in 1993.

Medium: Radio
Program: Olympic Magazine
Broadcast Date: Feb. 24, 1988
Guest(s): Isabelle Duchesnay, Paul Duchesnay
Host: Mark Lee, Liz Palmer
Duration: 9:33

Last updated: October 1, 2012

Page consulted on December 6, 2013

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