The city of Moncton, N.B., was hopping over the weekend as the host city for the Canadian figure skating championships.
There was enough magic going on the ice in Moncton that I think Skate Canada should consider using it as its permanent Canadians location!
Moncton will forever be one of those: "I knew where I was when" places. I will always know where I was when Patrick Chan smashed his own Canadians short and free program records.
He told me that last year in the dressing room that some of the skaters were telling him he would be the one that would break the 300-point barrier. He thought it was all in good fun and yet here we are.
Patrick Chan skated to a record-breaking 101.33 in the short program, and followed it up with a 200.81 in the free for a total of 302.14 overall.
To put it into perspective, the next closest competitor was silver medallist Kevin Reynolds whose final score was a terrific 239.44. Reynolds was no slouch while attempting three different quad jumps - two of which counted as clean - but Chan was that much better.
Say what you want, but it's still a rare thing to have an entire audience on its feet 10 seconds before the music finishes, which was the case in Chan's free program. The really cool thing is that in my mind there are still little tweaks that could still enhance the program.
Elladj Balde lost the bronze medal to Jeremy Ten by a mere .97 but won the hearts of the crowd in his Michael Jackson free program, earning him his own standing ovation.
Duhamel, Radford earn 1st national title
Canada has some great pairs and it appeared as if it would be a showdown between last year's silver medalists, Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford, and defending Canadian champions Kirsten-Moore Towers and Dylan Moscovitch. At the end of the short program there was a slim .66 spread between the top three teams.
Duhamel and Radford went for broke in the free. They adopted a "take no prisoners attitude," did their job and earned their first national title. In the media scrum the day before, it was clear that it was all or nothing for them, and that they would do what they had to do in order to prevail.
Honourable mention goes to Jessica Dube and new partner Sebastien Wolfe, who took the silver, with perennial crowd favourites, Paige Lawrence and Rudi Swiegers, winning bronze.
Moore-Towers and Moscovitch had a heartbreak of a free program, a highly uncharacteristic occurance that dropped them from third to fourth overall.
Ladies event has little sparkle
Another honourable mention has to go to the women's short program leader, Kaetlyn Osmond, who won the Challenge nationals qualifying competition. As a virtual unknown, the 16-year-old Osmond proved that she was ready to play with the big girls, staying ahead in the short, in front of the much more seasoned competitors Amelie Lacoste who was second and Cynthia Phaneuf who was fourth in the short.
For me, the women's event passed by without much sparkle. Neither the newly crowned champion, Lacoste, nor silver medallist Phaneuf was brilliant, but good enough. Osmond was outskated in the sense that she isn't quite there yet. She still needs polish and a greater degree of sophistication, two areas that will come in time. The good news for Osmond is that her performance and results booked her a ticket to the junior worlds.
The big question is how Skate Canada is going to try and determine who goes to worlds in Nice, France in March as the lone entry for the women. Skate Canada high performance director, Mike Slipchuk told me: "We want to make sure in both the case of the one entry for the ladies at junior worlds, as well as senior worlds, that Skate Canada sends its best representative. There is the possibility of using the ISU Four Continents championship as another event that we could use for evaluation. The key is making sure that we can see results."
Both Lacoste and Phaneuf will head to Colorado and the Four Continents event to determine who will ultimately skate in Nice.
Virtue, Moir win 4th Canadian title
In ice dance, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir won both segments of the competition but with not as much of a margin as one might expect. I am not sure what it all means. For my money, with the extensive changes that their coach Marina Zueva told me had been made since the Grand Prix Final, Virtue and Moir are on track with their goal of regaining their World title.
The makeover of Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje into world podium contenders continues to impress. They really ran with the concept: "It's love, but it's complicated," in their free dance. This was the way that Kaitlyn described it to me earlier in the season. They become more and more compelling to watch with every outing.
The bronze medal went to Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier whose appearance on the scene this season had people tweeting me non-stop for a full five minutes after they skated. Gilles is American and she and Poirier will not be able to compete until next season for Canada pending her release from the USFSA in May.
Kharis Ralph and Asher Hill finished in fourth place and will able to check off another thing on their "bucket list" by earning the third spot in ice dance at worlds.
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