Top 12 performances at figure skating worlds in Canada | Figure Skating | CBC Sports

Figure SkatingTop 12 performances at figure skating worlds in Canada

Posted: Thursday, March 7, 2013 | 12:23 PM

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Canadian pairs skaters Jamie Sale and David Pelletier whoop it up after performing what proved to be the winning free program in the world figure skating championships at GM Place in Vancouver on March 21, 2001. (Brian Bahr/Getty Images) Canadian pairs skaters Jamie Sale and David Pelletier whoop it up after performing what proved to be the winning free program in the world figure skating championships at GM Place in Vancouver on March 21, 2001. (Brian Bahr/Getty Images)

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In no particular order, here is CBC Sports figure skating expert Pj Kwong's Top 12 list of most memorable performances from the world championships that have taken place in Canada.

The ISU World Figure Skating Championships will be held in Canada for the fifth time since 1990, when London, Ont., hosts the event next week. I have been at every one of them and have performances that are so memorable as to still rattle around in my head to this day.

Here is my Top 12 most memorable performances from world championships taking place in Canada. They are in no particular order. Naturally, there are many more to choose from, making it very difficult to narrow the list. But I was lucky enough to be in the building to see each and every one of these programs.


Isabelle & Paul Duchesnay, France 
Ice dance silver medallists

I was lucky enough to see two of my favourite dance teams go head to head at the worlds in Halifax. From a "Wow, that's interesting" perspective, the Duchesnays' Missing free dance was part skating program and part political expression. Isabelle and Paul took the silver medal in 1990, but went on to the world title in 1991 and Olympic silver in 1992.

Marina Klimova & Sergei Ponamarenko, Soviet Union
Ice dance champions

Klimova and Ponamarenko had an almost magical connection and a string of successes as long as my arm. They took Olympic bronze in 1984, Olympic silver in 1988 and Olympic gold in 1992 as well as three world titles and four European titles. At Halifax in 1990, they won the second of their world titles skating the free dance to a joyous My Fair Lady.

Midori Ito, Japan
Ladies silver medallist

What makes this so interesting is that Ito was the defending champion in 1990. She had a disastrous result in the figures portion of the competition, placing 10th. Ito went on to do what she did best, which was free skate, and won both the short and free segments to boost her final result to second overall. In this Scheherezade free program, her speed is amazing -- and check out the triple Axel!

Ekaterina Gordeeva & Sergei  Grinkov, Soviet Union
Pairs champions

When I think of the two-time Olympic champions (1988, 1994), the image of one of the best pair that ever skated is what I come up with. At Halifax, their free skate to Romeo and Juliet wasn't perfect, but it was still strong enough to take their third of four world titles.


Lu Chen, China
Ladies silver medallist

Lu was the defending champion at the 1996 worlds. Choosing between her and eventual champion Michelle Kwan of the United States was like choosing between emeralds and sapphires. Both were outstanding. In this skate, Lu was second after the short and went on to collect the silver.

Michelle Kwan, United States
Ladies champion

I remember seeing Michelle Kwan live for the first time at the 1996 worlds. I can still see the costume and the exquisite Salome program that choreographer Lori Nichol, relatively new to the world stage, created for her. 1996 was Kwan's first world title. She eventually won five world titles, two Olympic medals and nine national crowns.

Ilia Kulik, Russia
Men's silver medallist

Just 18 years old, Kulik seemed to pop up out of nowhere in 1996. He had great strength and amazing jumps. At Edmonton, he won the short program, but faltered slightly in the free, leaving him with the silver medal. He went on to win gold at the 1988 Nagano Olympics.

Todd Eldredge, United States
Men's champion

Six-time U.S. men's champion Todd Eldredge had a bit of a hill to climb as he chased leader Kulik after the short program at the 1996 worlds. He did so with a flawless free skate that earned him top marks and his only world title.


Evgeny Plushenko, Russia
Men's champion

Plushenko, 18, was in first place when he took to the ice for the free program at the 2001 worlds. He arrived in Vancouver already having won the first two of his seven European titles. His world title in 2001 would be his first of three in his career. Plushenko would also become Olympic champion in 2006 and win Olympic silver in 2002 and 2010.

Alexei Yagudin, Russia
Men's silver medallist

Another legendary Russian skater, Yagudin was the defending and three-time world champion in 2001. Hampered by an injury before the worlds, he nevertheless rallied from a third-place finish in the short to take the silver. Yagudin would go on to win another world title in 2002 as well as the 2002 Olympic title and three European titles.

Jamie Sale & David Pelletier, Canada
Pairs champions

Sale and Pelletier claimed their only world title at Vancouver in 2001. Some felt at the time that it was a controversial win over legendary Russian pair Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze. There is no doubt in my mind that, on any given day, the competition between these two teams was so evenly matched that it could go either way. Many consider Sale and Pelletier's Tristan and Isolde free program to be their finest work. 


Stephane Lambiel, Switzerland
Men's champion

2006 was a great year for nine-time Swiss champion. Not only was he the defending world champion, but Lambiel came to Calgary having just won Olympic silver at Turin. What I have always admired about Lambiel is his creativity on the ice, innovative spin positions and fast skating that had an impressive lightness. This program, to Vivaldi's Four Seasons, is one of my favourites.

Marie-France Dubreuil & Patrice Lauzon, Canada
Ice dance silver medallists

The five-time Canadian ice dance champions seemed somehow to have thrown the conventions of typical free dance out the window with their Somewhere in Time program. For me, it captured the essence of the male/female romantic dynamic and would help them earn the first of two silver medals at worlds.

Follow Pj Kwong on Twitter @skatingpj

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