Major changes for Sale, Pelletier

Jamie Sale and David Pelletier aren't afraid to tinker with success.

After reaching the pinnacle in figure skating by winning the world championships in March and with the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City just around the corner, the popular pairs team has uprooted their training base.

Sale and Pelletier announced Tuesday they have moved to Edmonton to train at the Royal Glenora Club and they've switched coaches -- from Richard Gauthier to Sale's former coach, Jan Ullmark.

Sale and Pelletier, who had been training in Boucherville, Que., wouldn't say why they were leaving Gauthier, their coach of three years, other than the reasons were "personal."

"It's hard for us having to explain ourselves all the time," said Pelletier, via a conference call.

"But we feel very comfortable with the move and I'm sleeping good at night."

Sale and Pelletier said they came to the decision just two weeks ago.

Pelletier, 26, admits there will be plenty of people who question such a major move so soon before the Olympics in February and coming off such a successful season under Gauthier.

"We felt we needed a change and a change is better happening before the Olympics because after is too late," said Pelletier.

There's been speculation Sale, a native of Red Deer, Alta., was homesick in Montreal, a claim the pair disputed.

"She's a mature girl of 24 years old," said Pelletier. "We came here because this is where we are comfortable, this is where Jamie's comfortable and we needed a change."

Sale trained with her former partner Jason Turner in Edmonton, under Ullmark, who also coaches men's singles skater Ben Ferreira.

"There are a lot of things here that I missed," said Sale, who's from Edmonton.

"Obviously, I had it really good in Montreal too. We had a really good support team.

"It's just nice to be here with Jan again."

Sale and Pelletier delivered Gauthier the news in a 45-minute meeting.

"Richard is great human being, we have tremendous respect for him," said Pelletier. "We didn't expect him to do somersaults and I think it came as a surprise to him.

"But hopefully, we'll make friends."

Gauthier has reportedly said he would coach the pair again if they had a change of heart.

Pelletier, who's from Sayabec, Que., said he hopes he doesn't alienate any fans from his home province.

"When a French person says he doesn't want to play from the Montreal Canadiens, he's got his reasons. My job is bringing me here," said Pelletier, who owns a house in Montreal.

"Athletes train all over the place. Jamie loved Montreal, I love it too.

"But for right now, for the next nine months, my job has to be here and this is what I have to do to be my best at the Olympics and I hope people can understand that."

Sale and Pelletier's gold medal in the pairs last March in Vancouver, was the first win at the world by a Canadian in the sport since 1997 and the first pairs victory since Isabelle Brasseur and Lloyd Eisler won gold in 1993 in Prague.

The pair, who moved the Vancouver crowd with their rendition of Love Story, will retain choreographer Lori Nichol of Stouffville, Ont.

Nichol and Skate Canada officials gave the pair their blessings in the decision to move, said Pelletier.

They have two new programs in the works, their short program, a tango called Jealousy, and the long program, a romantic number to music from Rachmaninov's Concerto No. 2.

The pair's schedule will take them to Skate Canada and Skate America, the Canadian championships, the Olympics in Salt Lake, and the world championships.

By Lori Ewing