The skating fan in me is excited to see the matchups at this week's national championships in Halifax. The skating writer in me wonders if I couldn't use a crystal ball, especially in the men's and ladies' events.
The men's event will pit defending national champion Nam Nguyen against seven-time national and three-time world champion Patrick Chan.
What makes this matchup interesting is that during Chan's year-long sabbatical last season, Nguyen sprang into the limelight with a string of successes that included a fifth-place finish at the 2015 world championships.
While Chan has been struggling to regain his footing since his return this fall to the very competitive ranks of men's figure skating, Nguyen has been putting down respectable program after respectable program. Neither man has enjoyed the success he hoped for internationally this season, but that in no way takes away from the dazzling talent both display.
On balance, if Chan increases his technical score and maintains his performance score while Nguyen increases his performance score and maintains his quad jumps in the technical area, it should make for an amazing showdown.
Ladies' title up for grabs
In a wide-open ladies' event, Gabrielle Daleman is the reigning Canadian champion, Kaetlyn Osmond is a two-time national champion, and 2015 silver medallist Alaine Chartrand has posted the highest short program score so far this season among Canadian women.
The title really could go to any of them, and all three women have something to prove. Osmond has already shown that she can compete with the best of them when she is in top form. She has a Skate Canada title under her belt as well as an eighth-place finish at the 2013 world championships. At stake for Osmond at the national championships is proof positive that a year off for the injury-plagued skater was just a bump in the road and not the end of her career.
In practice, Daleman is a force to be reckoned with. Putting that talent into play in competition, however, has been an issue. But she appears ready and in top form, and is eager to prove that she won last year's national title not just because of Osmond's absence, but because she earned it.
Chartrand has been working on her triple Axel, and wouldn't that be an impressive feat on her way to collecting her first Canadian title? She is definitely in the mix.
Heavy favourites in dance, pairs'
In both the ice dance and pairs' events, the defending champions should have no problem holding on to their titles. Who will join them on the respective podiums remains to be seen.
Ice dancers Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje won their first national title a year ago in a fairy-tale season where they won everything up until the world championships. In 2015 in Shanghai, they took their second world medal, a bronze.
Weaver and Poje won both their Grand Prix events this season as well as a second consecutive Grand Prix Final title. Their goal should be to continue building momentum towards the world championships in March in Boston. They are the team to beat not only in Halifax but in any other competition in the second half of this season.
Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford are undoubtedly poised to take their fifth Canadian pairs' title. Demonstrating invincibility at nationals should be high on their list, especially given their recent defeat at the Grand Prix Final in Barcelona. For my money, an impression of invincibility will play an important part in facing down international rivals at any time during the balance of this season.
Pj's title picks
Men's: Patrick Chan
Ladies': Gabrielle Daleman
Pairs': Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford
Dance: Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje