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Canada has its best Grand Prix Final team ever

Canada is sending its strongest team ever to the Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final, where for the first time ever, Canadians will be competing in all four events.

Country finally puts skaters in all 4 events

Canada's loaded team for this year's Grand Prix Final features, clockwise from top left, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, Kaetlyn Osmond, Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford, and Patrick Chan. Julianne Seguin and Charlie Bilodeau, not pictured, round out the Canadian contingent. (Getty Images & Canadian Press)

What a time to be a Canadian figure skating fan. 

Canada is sending its strongest team ever to the Grand Prix Final, which opens Thursday in Marseille, France. (CBCSports.ca is live streaming every short and free program, beginning with the pairs' event Thursday at 1:45 p.m. ET.)

For the first time ever, Canada has been able to qualify skaters in all four competitions at this event, which is reserved for the top six in each discipline from the Grand Prix season.

That's largely thanks to Kaetlyn Osmond, who is the first Canadian woman to qualify since Joannie Rochette in the 2009-10 season — perhaps signaling an end to Canada's drought in women's skating.

Canada is only the third country to have at least one entry in every event since the inaugural Grand Prix Final was held 21 years ago (before that 1995-96 season it was called the Champions Series Final). The other two are Russia and the United States.

During Russia's figure skating heyday it sent full teams nine times — in each of the first six years of the Grand Prix Final, along with the ones held during the 2002-03, 2004-05 and 2014-15 seasons. The Americans did it once, in the 2007-08 season.

Not surprisingly, Russia is the clear leader in all-time Grand Prix Final medals. Its total of 75 includes 28 gold. The U.S. is a distant second with 37 medals, including 12 gold. Canada ranks third with a total of 29 medals — 11 gold, 13 silver and five bronze.

Ten of those Canadian medals — more than a third — have been won by skaters competing this week in Marseille. Patrick Chan and the duos of Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir and Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford own a combined three gold, six silver a bronze.


It will be exciting to see if Canadian skaters can add to the medal haul this week, and each of Canada's entries seemed equally excited when I asked them by email the following question: "You'll be making history by being part of the first Canadian team with entries in all four disciplines at the Grand Prix Final. What will competing for Canada at this event mean to you?"

Here's what they said, along with their record at previous Grand Prix Finals and my forecast for how they'll do in Marseille.

Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir (ice dance)

Previous appearances: 

  • Turin 2007-08 — 4th place
  • Tokyo 2009-10 — Silver
  • Quebec City 2011-12 — Silver
  • Sochi 2012-13 — Silver
  • Fukuoka 2013-14 — Silver

Pj's forecast: Gold 

Tessa (on behalf of the team): "We are so proud to be part of the Canadian contingent competing at the Grand Prix Final, and look forward to cheering on our teammates in Marseille, France. It's an important event culminating the fall series, and one that provides us with the invaluable opportunity of measuring ourselves against the best in the world."

Canada's ice dance pairing of Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir set a new world record on Sunday at the Grand Prix of Figure Skating in Sapporo, Japan, taking gold with a combined score of 195.84 8:00

Kaetlyn Osmond (ladies)

Previous appearances: None

Pj's forecast: Podium finish

Kaetlyn: "Competing for Canada at this Grand Prix Final is very exciting because it means I get the opportunity to skate amongst so many top skaters. Also, it means that Canada can show the strength of our team leading into the world championships and the Olympic year."

Kaetlyn Osmond of Marystown, NF, finished second overall on Saturday in the ladies program at the Cup of China in Beijing with a final score of 196.00. 8:00

Patrick Chan (men)

Previous appearances: 

  • Turin 2007-08 — 5th
  • Goyang 2008-09 — 5th
  • Beijing 2010-11 — Gold
  • Quebec City 2011-12 — Gold
  • Sochi 2012-13 — Bronze
  • Fukuoka 2013-14 — Silver
  • Barcelona 2015-16 — 4th

Pj's forecast: Podium finish

Patrick: "Competing at this Grand Prix Final will mark a new benchmark for myself and this team. It is a huge honour to be a part of such a balanced and united team that's representing Canada at the highest level internationally."

Toronto native Patrick Chan finished first overall in the men's program at the Cup of China in Beijing on Saturday with a winning score of 279.72. 8:49

Meagan Duhamel & Eric Radford (pairs)

Previous appearances: 

  • Quebec City 2011-12 — 5th
  • Sochi 2012-13 — 4th
  • Fukuoka 2013-14 — 5th
  • Barcelona 2014-15 — Gold
  • Barcelona 2015-16 — Silver

Pj's forecast: Gold

Meagan: "Competing for Canada at this year's Grand Prix Final will be extra special because I am now part of history as Canada has qualified an entry in each discipline for the first time. Kaetlyn, Patrick, Tessa, Scott and Eric and I have been competing and touring together for many years, and we all share a very special bond because we were on the team that won Olympic silver in Sochi together. I feel so grateful to share these amazing competition experiences with such great friends and teammates."

Eric: "To compete at the Grand Prix Final is always a special opportunity, but this time it's even more exciting because we have our biggest team ever. I'm looking forward to cheering on my friends!"

Canada's Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford won the pairs competition at the Grand Prix of Japan on Saturday with a combined score of 204.56. 8:48

Julianne Seguin and Charlie Bilodeau (pairs)

Previous appearance: 

  • Barcelona 2015-16 — 4th

Pj's forecast: Personal best

Charlie (on behalf of the team): "It's always special to know that you will be a part of something that is happening for the first time, especially in Canadian figure skating history, where so many legends have emerged!"

It's the first Grand Prix gold medal for the Canadian couple 7:29

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