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He started skating at the age of two. His competitive career began when he was six and included stints on a dance team with his best friend, elder sister Meghan. "He hated the dancing, but he loved his sister,' says his mom. When Jeff turned 12 he was inspired by Elvis Stojko's performance at the 1994 Olympic Games in Lillehammer. His family moved to Barrie, Ontario, so he could train at the internationally renowned Mariposa School of Skating. His career took off from there.
In 1998 he finished 2nd in the country as a Junior and moved to the Senior ranks the following year. In 1999 he was 10th and by 2002 he was in the top three. He placed first in Canada in 2005 and 2006. Internationally, his highlights include winning the Four Continents Championships in 2002 (the first time he participated in the event) and in 2004, the NHK Trophy in 2003, the 2004 Cup of China and the silver medal at the 2005 World Championships. This season he captured France's Trophée Eric Bompard and placed second at the Grand Prix Final in Tokyo.
The soft-spoken Jeff put his University of Toronto chemical engineering studies on hold in order to dedicate himself completely to his dream of making Canada's Olympic team – "I don't want to kill myself and burn out before the Olympics". He enters the 2006 Turin Games ranked 1st in the world by the International Skating Union (ISU).
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She first took to the ice when she was six. But initially she showed more promise on the soccer field. She was a talented skater but didn't take it too seriously until she was 16. It was then that her mentor, a family friend, urged her to continue pursuing the sport she truly loved. That year she landed her first triple, at an age when her competitors were already veterans. "I'm almost like someone who came to the party at the very last minute and crashed it".
When Lesley's parents told her they could no longer finance her skating, she started to work to pay for her career. For four years she worked full-time as a waitress on top of training 30 hours a week at the Mariposa School of Skating). As a senior, she climbed nationally from 9th in 2002 and 2003, to 6th in 2004 and 5th in 2005.
She credits this past season's improvement to her move to the U.S., where she placed herself under the tough tutelage of skating guru Richard Callaghan. She placed 4th at the 2005 Nebelhorn Trophy, 3rd at the 2006 nationals and 4th at the 2006 Four Continents Championship.
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He began skating at age seven and soon showed promise. His mother says that after only a few years people connected with the sport singled him out as an emerging talent. Inspired by the likes of Elvis Stojko and Kurt Browning, Chris first competed nationally in 1998, placing second. As a junior he rose to third in three years, followed by an ascent in the senior's ranks from 9th (in 2003) to 6th (2004) to 5th in 2005.
This past season, his first on the Senior Grand Prix, saw him compete in Atlantic City and in Osaka, Japan (where he finished 4th at the NHK). He also placed 4th at the 2006 nationals and 2nd at the 2006 Four Continents Competition.
Wherever he goes, his Tillsonburg roots keep him grounded. "I don't feel like a star, but I'm grateful for all the support the community shows me. It's overwhelming sometimes". He's headlined an annual fundraising event in his home town since 1998. He brings fellow National team skaters and emerging world stars to the local arena to raise money so his parents don't have to carry the entire financial burden of his skating. And Chris still works part-time in Barrie while training full-time at the Mariposa School of Skating.
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The only woman to ever capture our country's novice, junior and senior crowns, she was inspired like fellow National Team member Jeffrey Buttle, by the Lillehammer Olympic Games. Within Canada, as a Novice skater, she went from 15th in 1999 to 1st the next year. As a Junior, she was 1st in 2001 and 3rd in 2002.
Since then, she's been dominant on the Senior's domestic scene, finishing 2nd in 2003 and 2004, and becoming Canadian champion in 2005. Internationally, she captured the title at both Eric Bompard and the Bofrost Cup in 2003, won Bronze at the 2004 Grand Prix Final and came second at the 2005 Skate Canada Event.
During her run she had a one-season estrangement from her "second mother", Manon Perron. Perron is the coach who first noticed Joannie when the skater was eight. Joannie began working with Perron again during the 2004/2005 season.
Joannie captured her second-straight Canadian Championship title on the night of her 20th birthday. She chose "L'Hymne a l'amour" as the music for her Free Skate this season. She says that when she played it for her mother, it brought tears to the elder Rochette's eyes. Unbeknownst to Joannie, it was the same piece of music that had brought solace to her mother earlier in life. It played the night Joannie won her 2006 National title as her mother watched from the stands. That performance won her a place on Canada's Olympic team, and Joannie heads to Turin ranked 7th in the world by the ISU.
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He started studying ballet at the age of three and took up figure skating when he was eight. He says his first pair of skates were white -- "the cheap plastic kind that you'd get at Canadian Tire." His father disliked them so much, he tried to colour them black with a magic marker. According to Emanuel, they turned "eggplant purple".
His mother wasn't thrilled with figure skating and told her young son that she wanted him to play hockey. But Emanuel enjoyed the artistry and a year after he started skating he was discovered by Joanne McLeod. McLeod is a nationally regarded coach with a dance background who remains his instructor to this day. He danced until the end of high school and graduated from the National Ballet School before committing to skating full time.
During his upbringing his parents split. Now Emanuel calls McLeod his "biggest support system. I've been with her longer than with my parents." While she says she's "a coach, not his family," he refers to her as his "biggest support system. I've been with her longer than I've been with my parents."
As a Junior he was 7th nationally in 1996 and 1st the following year. He had a dominant run as a Senior (placing 1st or 2nd from 1998 to 2006, including three years as champion). He got gold at the 2003 Grand Prix Final, winning the ISU's Skate Canada event in 2004 and 2005, along with the 2005 Cup of China. On two previous occasions, Sandhu has been named to the Olympic Team by Skate Canada but did not compete. In 1998 (Nagano) the Canadian Olympic Committee ruled he was ineligible because his competitive record wasn't strong enough. In 2002 (Salt Lake City) he had a knee injury.
Much of the skating media's attention has been on his inconsistencies. The press has called him "flaky" and "a coach's worst nightmare". But Emanuel freely admits that he is wrestling with the demons from his childhood. Still there's no denying his talent. He enters the 2006 Olympics ranked 3rd in the world by the ISU.
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