Canada's young figure skaters show 'great talent'
Skate Canada high performance camp brings exciting results
The elite athletes in attendance at Skate Canada's annual High Performance Camp in Mississauga, Ont., this week had one thing on their minds: to impress.
The goal at this event was to wow the judges, who are there to monitor the skaters and give them feedback. It's all part of the plan in developing the skaters to perform at the highest level during the upcoming season.
With the chance to watch skaters in all four disciplines, I could only come to one conclusion: Canada has some great talent.
The High Performance Camp isn't only about seeing what the veterans are up to. The camp also gives me a chance to see how the younger skaters are coming along.
Surprises are to be expected, like seeing veteran pair skater Rudi Swiegers on the ice with new partner Hayleigh Bell, or hearing from Canadian champion Gabrielle Daleman, who got spiked in the right knee a week ago on the ice; resulting in eight stitches.
There was also the best kind of surprise: seeing Kaetlyn Osmond back on the ice. The two-time national champion lost all of last season recovering from a broken leg. When a skater gets sidelined by an injury like this, you never know if they will be able to return to full strength.
In Kaetlyn's case, and from what I saw in practice, her flow, strength and jumps were all up to speed. Her triple flip/triple toe loop jump combination made a believer out of me.
Last season marked a breakthrough for Canadian pair skaters Julianne Seguin and Charlie Bilodeau. Not only did they claim a bronze medal in their first trip to senior nationals, they won the junior Grand Prix Final, took a silver medal at junior worlds and followed it up with an eighth-place finish in their first trip to senior worlds.
I don't know that I can name many pair teams who have made such a seamless transition from the junior to senior ranks and with as much success. The fact that Julianne rhymed off all of the new elements that they have been working on over the summer tells me that they're serious about climbing the ranks in the pair world.
Nguyen 'much more serious'
Nam Nguyen is a contradiction in terms. On the one hand he is very much the exuberant 17-year-old teenager, and then when he is on the ice he exudes maturity beyond his years.
Watching Nam last year was a treat. From seeing him take a bronze medal at Skate America during his first year on the senior Grand Prix circuit, to skating lights out and taking his first Canadian national title. At worlds, after a ninth-place finish in the short, he blew the skating world away with a fourth-place finish in the free, which resulted in a fifth-place finish overall.
I wondered what direction Nam would be taking this year. With two quads as part of his repertoire, there is no doubt that he has the technical strength to be competitive in the senior ranks.
"I have two new programs this year. They are both much more serious. We wanted to show a different side to my skating."
Patrick Chan sees him as a rival. The rest of the world should too.
The ISU Grand Prix series kicks off October 23– 25 with Skate America in Milwaukee.