Figure skating duo didn't make Olympic team, coach says they'll come back stronger
Walsh and Michaud placed second at the National Figure Skating Championships on Saturday
Although figure skating team Evelyn Walsh and Trennt Michaud didn't qualify for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics next month, their coach is confident that the pair will deliver in their future performances.
The pair came in second place in the senior round at the National Figure Skating Championships in Ottawa on Saturday, with Vanessa James and Eric Radford being named for the Olympics instead.
The James-Radford duo finished in fourth-place in the short program on Friday and will represent Canada alongside Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro, who won gold.
Walsh of London, Ont., and Michaud from Belleville, Ont., have trained under Alison Purkiss of Skate Canada for about five years as a team.
Purkiss said the pair performed exceptionally and achieved their goals for the season, but not getting the Olympic tag along with any feedback on their performance makes the loss harder.
"They're more than disappointed, they're a bit heartbroken," she said. "They came in really prepared and focused and felt like they had a legitimate shot, so that was hard on them."
The pressure of an international stage
Purkiss acknowledges that this was the duo's first senior season in an Olympic year, and they did a great job of managing the pressure to deliver big on the international stage.
"They're young, it took them some time to figure out how to drown out the expectations and focus on themselves to do what they can do, and they did exactly that," she said.
For Purkiss, this was 20-year-old Walsh and 25-year-old Michaud's best performance, as they maintained their energy and speed throughout despite not having a crowd to cheer them on.
"It was tough, there was no crowd, no energy in the building or the big hype that nationals usually draw, and it was a challenge for the whole event," she added.
However, Purkiss is confident that Walsh-Michaud will have many more opportunities to claim a victory at the Four Continents figure skating championship next week.
"They're going to pivot and try to put this heartbreak behind them to deliver strong skates because that's all you can really do, take a hit and move on."
Disappointment for fans everywhere
Many fans took to social media to express their frustration about the results.
I understand that there are several factors that determine which teams are sent to the Olympics. However, it's a HUGE shame that Evelyn Walsh and Trennt won a silver medal in pairs skating, and didn't make the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/TeamCanada?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#TeamCanada</a> team. 💔 <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/CTNats22?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#CTNats22</a>—@sassygirlcanada
I am very sorry, Evelyn Walsh and <a href="https://twitter.com/trennt22?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@trennt22</a>, about the decision. You skated fantastic at <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/CTNats22?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#CTNats22</a>. No one can take away that and your silver medal there from you. Please stay proud, confident, and (though it may be difficult just now) motivated. You will have better days.—@cocolechat
Well that absolutely stinks. Why even hold a national championship if the results are meaningless? <a href="https://twitter.com/trennt22?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@trennt22</a> and Evelyn Walsh were spectacular in this competition. <a href="https://twitter.com/SkateCanada?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@SkateCanada</a>, I think this is a cruel decision. How discouraging.—@aintnosatchmo
Purkiss thanks all fans who have shown such a keen interest in Canadian figure skating which will go a long way for the team.
"When you're in a rink that's completely empty all week, it's easy to feel like no one's paying attention or watching, so thank you for all the support," she said.
Kirsten-Moore Towers, and partner Michael Marinaro showed their support for the two after Moore-Towers posted a heartfelt photo of all four competitors sharing a hug after the competition.
❤️<br><br>Thank you <a href="https://twitter.com/gregkolz?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@gregkolz</a> for this photo. <br>Thank you Ev and Trennt for being you. I am forever in your corner. <a href="https://t.co/zvAgELkWEG">pic.twitter.com/zvAgELkWEG</a>—@Kirsten_MT
Walsh-Michaud are set to take on the Four Continents in Estonia starting Jan.18.