Nam Nguyen's rise at worlds highlights Canada's talent
Duhamel & Radford reach goal, Nguyen shows promise
Getting the chance to represent your country at the world figure skating championships has got to be a thrill. Being the first skater from your country to win a world title must multiply that thrill a hundredfold.
That was the case for Spain's Javier Fernandez. This was the final jewel in the skating crown that he was looking for. After winning three European titles and two world bronze medals, he can now add world champion to his accomplishments.
Even though Fernandez was second in the short program, he won that segment of the event in the hearts of many figure skating fans (myself included) with an energetic rock and roll performance that was as much a breath of fresh air as it was technically splendid.
Defending world and Olympic champion, Japan's Yuzuru Hanyu, is as Kurt Browning says: “a blade master”. Brian Orser was heard to say that if Hanyu had had another couple of weeks to recover from various physical difficulties, it might have been different. As it was, Hanyu took the silver medal while Kazakhstan’s Denis Ten took the bronze.
Nguyen shows promise with worlds result
The real story for me was the meteoric rise of Canada’s men’s champion Nam Nguyen, who posted a season’s best score on his way to an impressive fifth-place finish. After finishing in 12th place at worlds last year, I thought that a top-ten finish would have been an attainable and realistic goal for 16-year-old Nguyen, so ending up in fifth place overall with a fourth-place finish in the free was outstanding.
For the record, hats off to Toronto coach Brian Orser, a former world champion and Olympic silver medallist, who trains three of the top five skaters in the world including Nguyen, newly-crowned world champion Fernandez, as well as Hanyu.
Pairs continue to improve
Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford did what they came to Shanghai to do: win the world pair title. I have to admire skaters who declare their intention and make it happen. Duhamel and Radford have been working to add to their individual technical strength by improving their pair elements. Mission accomplished.
Julianne Seguin and Charlie Bilodeau need an honourable mention for competing in both juniors and seniors this year; taking the junior grand prix final title, a silver at junior worlds about three weeks ago and now an eighth-place finish in their first senior worlds.
Weaver, Poje set to rebound
Carol Lane said it best when she said that first-time world dance champions from France, Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron, captured ‘lightning in a bottle’ with a well-skated free dance program that perfectly captured their style and strengths. Will they be able to follow up this title with material that demonstrates range and strength in other areas? Time will tell.
In the meantime, my money is on Canadian champions Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje, the 2015 world dance medallists, who were undefeated coming into worlds. They continue to re-invent themselves every year; a crucial piece of the ice dance puzzle.
In a word, maybe two: triple Axel is how I would define the women’s event at worlds. First-time world champion Russia's Elizaveta Tuktamysheva included a beautiful triple Axel in her short program. What distinguished her from other women who have been successful with this jump is her strength, speed, and the ease with which it was executed.
She credits her coach Alexei Mishin’s faith in her ability to rise to the top. It can’t have been easy as she struggled with body changes that threw her jumps so far off track that she missed the Sochi 2014 team. Tuktamysheva won both the short program and the free and may have given us a glimpse of an early favourite headed to the 2018 Olympics.
Men’s Team – Nam Nguyen (5th) and Jeremy Ten (22nd) – Canada secured two berths for next year’s World Championships.
Women’s Team – Alaine Chartrand (11th) and Gabrielle Daleman (21st) - Canada secured two berths for next year’s World Championships.
Dance Team – Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje (3rd), Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier (6th), Alexandra Paul and Mitchell Islam (13th) – Canada secured 3 berths for next year’s World Championships.
Pair Team – Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford (1st), Julianne Seguin and Charlie Bilodeau (8th), Lubov Iliushechkina and Dylan Moscovitch (13th) – Canada secured 3 berths for next year’s World Championships.