Road To The Olympic Games

Figure Skating·Watch

Canadian rivals Messing, Nguyen inseparable off ice — and on it, too

When the music starts, it's all business for Canadian figure skaters Keegan Messing and Nam Nguyen at the world championships in Saitama, Japan. But the international trip also means lots of downtime spent playing Nintendo Switch and forging a lasting friendship together.

Teammates joke pair placed 13, 14 in short program to stay in same group for free skate

Canadians Keegan Messing and Nam Nyugen, on-ice rivals, have a forged a strong bond in all their time together off the ice. (Pj Kwong/CBC Sports)

It appears as if it's all business for the skaters — when they're on the ice, that is 100 per cent the case. But off the ice, it's another story.

There are many international flights, with long bus rides and time to kill in between practices at a big event. It is in those in-between moments where some of the most unlikely friendships are forged.

For Canadians Keegan Messing and Nam Nguyen, that could not hold more true. They are very much rivals on the ice, but once competition is done, that's when the fun starts.

Here in Saitama, Japan, home of the 2019 world figure skating championships, the two have been inseparable. They have been found vying for dominance on Nintendo Switch games, exploring their surroundings and sharing the worlds experience together.

Some on the Canadian team have jokingly said that Nguyen and Messing ended up in 13th and 14th place respectively after the short program if only to be able to be in the same warm-up group for the free skate. The truth is they are here for the common goal of capturing at least two spots for the Canadian men who will compete at worlds this time next year in Montreal.

Their admiration for one another's skating skills is clear. They respect each other as rivals but leave it at the gate. At the national championships in January, when Nguyen took the title, Messing was the first person to congratulate him backstage.

Would they have been friends if it weren't for skating? Maybe not. But the fact of the matter is, they found skating and support in each other.

They took a moment to talk to me about their friendship:

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