The 98th Canadian Figure Skating Championships take place in Moncton this week, and it promises to be one of the more interesting competitions in a non-Olympic season.
I say so because this event determines Canada's representatives for the world championships in France this March. And that event determines how many entries Canada will have for the 2013 worlds in London, Ont., which also serve as the qualifier for the 2014 Olympics.
Based on last year's worlds results, Canada has qualified three entries for ice dance, two for pairs and men, and one for women at this year's worlds. The skaters in Moncton will also be vying for spots in the upcoming Four Continents Championships and, if age appropriate, the junior world championships.
Women: Lacoste ready to challenge Phaneuf
Reigning Canadian women's champion Cynthia Phaneuf recently told me
that her definition of a successful national championships would be "[winning] the title." It will by no means be a walk in the park as closest rival Amelie Lacoste has her sights set on the very same thing.
Phaneuf changed her training location and coach to Toronto and Brian Orser after a disappointing showing in the Grand Prix series in the fall. Has there been enough time to get inside her head and make the changes necessary to allow her to take her rightful place in the elite ranks of the world's figure skating women? We'll know on Friday when the senior women take the ice for their short program.Men: 13-year-old phenom on the scene
There is no doubt in my mind that Patrick Chan will claim his fifth consecutive national title this weekend. What he needs, though, is to grab the title with the same kind of decisiveness that he did last year, paving the way for his record-breaking skates at the world championships.
With two men's entries possible for worlds, the trick will be finding a man who can deliver his own top-12 finish to help secure a third spot for worlds in 2013. That man could be Canada's own "Quad King" Kevin Reynolds, the 2010 national bronze medallist and the first man to ever perform a quad-triple-triple combination in competition, which he did in 2008.
Jeremy Ten is looking strong, finally back from extensive injuries and having qualified for Canadians by way of winning the Challenge qualifier event. And we can't forget the reigning junior world champion, Andrei Rogozine, who wants to reach the next step on the podium of his skating career.
Nam Nguyen is a name you're going to want to remember. The 13-year-old phenom from British Columbia is the youngest to have won the national junior title, doing so at the age of 12 in 2011. He's also the youngest to have won his other three national titles: in the juvenile division at age eight in 2007, pre-novice in 2008, and novice in 2009.Ice dance: Virtue & Moir look to reaffirm dominance
The ice dance is going to be very interesting to watch. After taking the silver medal and what they thought were two second-place segment finishes at the Grand Prix Final in December, 2010 Olympic champions and three-time national champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir will undoubtedly have made some changes to their programs. In the end, it was discovered that due to a computer calculation error
, they in fact won the GP Final free dance segment and have the highest free dance score of the season, albeit unofficially.
The title should go to Virtue and Moir in what they hope will be the kind of performances that will re-establish their dominance in the world ice dance order. The silver medal belongs to Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje, whose dramatic improvement in speed and overall performance got them to fifth in the world in 2011 and is helping them stay there.
The final spot on the podium is anyone's guess with three teams in serious contention and a couple more who could challenge. Last year's bronze medallists, Alexandra Paul and Mitchell Islam, will be fighting it out with Kharis Ralph and Asher Hill as well as 2011 Canadian ice dance champion Paul Poirier, who makes his national debut with new partner
Piper Gilles.Pairs: Too close to call
The pairs event has one of the closest rivalries ever seen in that discipline at Canadians. The reigning Canadian champions, Kirsten Moore-Towers and Dylan Moscovitch, earned two bronze medals in their Grand Prix events but missed the opportunity to compete at the Grand Prix Final by a margin of 1.99 points. Taking two bronze medals in their Grand Prix events and the almost two-point advantage for the spot at the Grand Prix Final were 2011Canadian silver medallists Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford.
Both teams are well trained, prepared and have great material. It will come down to the skate on the day. We can't discount the 2011 national bronze medallists, Paige Lawrence and Rudi Swiegers, who have the potential to really push both teams and are eager for their first turn at worlds.Live blog
It's the fourth time that Moncton is hosting the national championships, and I couldn't be happier to be bringing it all to life in my live blog on CBCSports.ca
from Thursday morning right through to the end of competition on Sunday!
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