The Canadian figure skating championships did not disappoint.
In many ways, this competition indicated a changing of the guard.
The women's event was the strongest example where the podium finishers were all fresh-faced teenagers. Kaetlyn Osmond delivered two outstanding performances as she continues to ride her wave of success, highlighted by two international gold medals at the beginning of the season. Osmond can now add national champion to her list of credits as she heads off to the Four Continents and world championships.
First-year senior Gabrielle Daleman was the silver medallist. It has been a busy year for this skater, who was Canada's junior champion in 2012. She has the kind of killer instinct on the ice that will make her a force to be reckoned with; moving from fifth after the short program to finish behind Osmond.
In a cruel twist of fate at the end of the women's event, it was announced unofficially that 2012 champion Amelie Lacoste had finished as the bronze medallist. There was some unusual activity and excitement backstage with murmurs that Alaine Chartrand would move up from fourth to take the bronze.
During the course of the event, a member of Chartrand's team indicated that the first element in her program had been inputted into the computer system as a jump sequence when it was in fact a jump combination. Nothing can be checked in the middle of an event, but once it was over the calls were cross-checked against what was put into the computer.
It turned out that Chartrand's first element had been identified as a combination, but there was a data input error rewarding it as a jump sequence. Once the error was corrected, newcomer Chartrand took her place on the podium with a bronze medal around her neck.
It was heartbreaking to see Lacoste looking at the computer screen and realizing that it was all over.
Coming a close second in terms of heartbreak was the drop from third to fourth by Alexandra Paul and Mitchell Islam in the dance event. They had a big fall and slow recovery in their free dance. A medal was so close they could taste it. A year must seem like a lifetime from now especially since they had struggled with injuries and a nightmare season all last year. They were hoping that these nationals would be their chance to get back in the game.
Newcomers Nicole Orford and Thomas Williams were prepared to walk through the door and step on to the podium for their first senior medal: a bronze. They looked relaxed and confident. No doubt their experience in their two Grand Prix events in the fall has helped them bridge the gap from first year to experienced-looking seniors.
Virtue, Moir skate to 5th title
As predicted, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir walked away with their fifth Canadian title
. The audience was on its feet almost before the skaters finished their Carmen program. What could not have been anticipated was the three-point deduction that Virtue and Moir took in their free dance for going over time on three separate lifts. I am sure that will be all sorted out by the time they compete next at the Four Continents championships in February.
Joining Virtue and Moir at the Four Continents and worlds are first-time silver medallists Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier.
Kevin Reynolds was a standout for me in the men's event. He came in second in the event but first in my mind in overall improvement. In the short program he executed two quads while showcasing great musicality and a style that continues to evolve. In the free program he became the first Canadian man at nationals to do three different quads in a free program. It was impressive.
Patrick Chan less than magical
Patrick Chan's performances were solid enough to earn him his sixth straight national title
, but slightly less than magical. There is still room to grow before worlds where he hopes to win his third consecutive title. In other words, the news is all good.
I have to say I admired the way that Andrei Rogozine attacked his free program, which resulted in a bronze medal.
A staunch member of the old guard: three-time Canadian champion Emanuel Sandhu qualified and competed at the 2013 nationals. Who doesn't think once in a while about trying to go home again? Sometimes it can be a disaster. This wasn't the case here. Sandhu was warmly received by the audience. His skating brought back memories of his wonderful body line and style. He finished a respectable 11th place.
Nail-biting pairs event
The pairs' event can only be described as a nail biter. With one national title each to their credit, defending champions Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford were not going to give up their title to their archrivals and former champions Kirsten Moore-Towers and Dylan Moscovitch without a fight.
At the end of the short program only .85 separated the two teams. Moore-Towers and Moscovitch skated the best free program I have seen them skate in a very long time, and it set a new Canadian record for the overall total score in pairs.
Duhamel and Radford followed them and as they took the ice, I wondered if the pressure of trying to match Moore-Towers and Moscovitch's free would make them crumple. Duhamel and Radford skated well enough to break the Canadian record that had been set only minutes before by Moore-Towers and Moscovitch.
Duhamel and Radford squeaked out a 2.09 point lead to retain their title, while Moore-Towers and Moscovitch settled for silver.
It must also be mentioned that Paige Lawrence and Rudi Swiegers skated an outstanding free program and captured the bronze for the third straight year.
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