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Figure Skating·Blog

Skaters have final chance to work out kinks before worlds

The world simulation event that took place in Oakville, Ont., this week gave some of the best figure skaters one last chance to work out any kinks before the world championships in Boston.

Canadians ready for season’s biggest event in Boston

Pj Kwong and Kurt Browning discuss the men's and pairs event after the action unfolded at the world junior figure skating championships in Debrecen, Hungary. 24:00

I received a cryptic note asking me if I had seen the Facebook notice about the world simulation event in Oakville, Ont., and if I was going this week. I didn't need to be asked twice.

A small, enthusiastic and knowledgeable crowd filled the seats while a bunch of skaters waited for their turn to skate.

This was a chance for some competitors to get out the kinks before next week's world championships in Boston. 

The list of skaters included defending world champion Javier Fernandez of Spain and Canadian training mate Nam Nguyen, who finished fifth in the world a year ago. I was also going to see Canadian champion Alaine Chartrand and Gabby Daleman, along with pair skaters Lubov Iliushechkina and Dylan Moscovitch.

As the skaters were warming up off the ice, I sidled up to a couple of coaches to get their take on the simulation and what it means in the overall preparation for worlds. For Michelle Leigh, Chartrand's coach, a simulation "is a final chance to work things out. To tweak just the final touches. For instance, we haven't skated third at any of the events this season, and we are tonight. This is the perfect chance to simulate the timing of what that is like from taking skates off, to more backstage jumping and whatever else is needed."

Former world champion Brian Orser's perspectives on the goals of skating in a pre-worlds simulation are practical.

"There are pre-world jitters for everyone so this is a chance to work some of that out. At this point, the work is done and everyone is ready. You go out and you skate and good or bad, because the competition isn't until next week, there is still something that can be done. There are lessons to take away."

Orser's student Nguyen is off to another worlds; something that he didn't expect after a disappointing performance at the Canadian championships where he didn't qualify for the world team. Suddenly, a couple of weeks ago, Nguyen was notified that Liam Firus had stepped aside and he would be going.

"I didn't really deserve this spot, so I feel there isn't pressure.  I'm trying to remember how it felt last year. I want to go, enjoy the environment, connect and do my best." It's five days to go before Boston. "I feel ready" Nguyen said.

Holding pattern

After Canadians, did Orser's attention on Nam turn to next season, not expecting what transpired with Firus.

"We were in a holding pattern because we always knew that Nam would be competing at the Team Trophy event so we kept training. We came close to doing a new long program for next season that would have debuted in Spokane [at the Team Event] but obviously with going to worlds, we kept the same programs."

Skaters and coaches agree. The goal was to skate clean in front of the crowd at the arena in Oakville.

Gabrielle Daleman is back in top form after missing the Four Continents championships due to a swollen tendon. Working on edges and the program without the elements helped her to get back on track.

"I am keeping to myself," said Daleman. "My training partner in the rink is Javier [Fernandez]. We do footwork and we watch each other and support each other. He's a blast. He calls me his little sister."

Orser said that simulations like this one are a reminder to the skaters that as much as you may want to do something over, you only have this one chance.

With less than a week to go, Iliushechkina said the biggest thing is to "trust your training," while partner Moscovitch acknowledges, "the week before worlds is the longest one of all."

Follow Pj Kwong on Twitter (@skatingpj) live from Boston during the world championships

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