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Figure Skating·Preview

Canadian figure skating championships: Who to watch

With the national figure skating championships taking place this weekend in Kingston, Ont., analyst Pj Kwong picks the winners and identifies the athletes to keep an eye on.

Weaver & Poje poised for 1st national title

Fresh off winning the Grand Prix Final, Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje are the favourites to capture their first national ice dance crown. (David Ramos/Getty Images)

As I get ready to head to Kingston, Ont., for the annual national figure skating championships, there are a couple of questions running through my mind. 

The first is what will happen in the men’s event. With Patrick Chan on a self-imposed hiatus, the podium could be filled in any number of ways.

The heir apparent should be Kevin Reynolds, but with his lack of competitive experience and ongoing boot problems this season, he may not have had enough training time to be completely ready.

2014 junior world champion Nam Nguyen, on the other hand, seems to be. His bronze medal at the Skate America Grand Prix event has to be a confidence booster. The fact that Nam has won every national title all the way up to junior so far has to be another.

I think that Reynolds’s experience, national silver medals for the last three years and competitive desire to come back from his equipment setbacks give him a slight edge. And look for these other men to put their best foot forward: Jeremy Ten, Andrei Rogozine, Liam Firus and Elladj Balde.

Osmond injury leaves void

With Canadian champion Kaetlyn Osmond not returning to the rink until she is fully healed from a foot injury, the women’s event has a bit of a question mark attached to it. In the final analysis, I think that it’s going to be a battle between Alaine Chartrand and Gabrielle Daleman.

I could go either way on this one, but with a silver medal from each of the last two nationals, and the Autumn Classic title from this season, I think the title is Daleman’s to lose.

Weaver & Poje on a roll

The ice dance is going to be a lot of fun with lots of talented teams vying for a podium spot. The best part will be seeing Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje take their first national title. They've had a fantastic season so far, including the Grand Prix Final title.

The horse race to fill the other podium slots comes from Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier, Alexandra Paul and Mitch Islam, Nicole Orford and Thomas Williams, and Madeline Edwards and Zhaokai Pang.

Seguin & Bilodeau on the rise

Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford are also on a winning streak with two Grand Prix medals and the Grand Prix Final title to their credit this season. There is no doubt in my mind that they are on their way to their fourth Canadian title.

Who else will join them on the podium? That's going to be fun to watch as the event progresses. Kirsten Moore-Towers has joined forces with Michael Marinaro while her former partner Dylan Moscovitch is now skating with Lyubov Iliusheshchkina, and both teams are looking to make their mark and ultimately earn a spot in the world championships.

I was so impressed by Junior Grand Prix Final champions Julianne Seguin and Charlie Bilodeau in Barcelona. Seguin and Bilodeau are competing for the first time in the senior nationals, and look like they belong here.

Pj's watch list

  • Roman Sadovsky — There is an elegance about Roman’s skating that is undeniable. By qualifying for the Junior Grand Prix Final this season, his star is on the rise. He makes me think of Olympic champion Ilya Kulik in the best possible way.
  • Alaine Chartrand — I like the way she comes out of her shell on the ice. A soft-spoken person off the ice, she's the consummate competitor, capturing her first Grand Prix medal in her debut on the senior circuit this season.
  • Julianne Seguin and Charlie Bilodeau — The personalities of these two reach way beyond the boards. They took the Junior Grand Prix Final title in Barcelona in December and are poised to make the podium at nationals. Keep your eye on these two.
  • Lyubov Iliushechkina and Dylan Moscovitch — Dylan is well-known as a great and titled pair skater. When his partnership with Kirsten Moore-Towers broke up, he went looking for someone else and cane across Lyubov. Formerly of Russia, she has been released by the Russian Federation and can now compete for Canada. As a former junior world champion with an addition junior world silver medal with a former partner, Lyubov has some cred of her own. The combination of these two skaters has endless potential.

Pj’s gold-medal picks

Dance: Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje

Men: Kevin Reynolds

Pairs: Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford

Ladies: Gabrielle Daleman

Tweet me your picks and anything else @skatingpj and with the hashtag #cbcskate.

Just for fun

Why not reminisce about the Canadian skaters who were at the Grand Prix Final in these short videos I took in Barcelona that are posted on CBC Sports’ Facebook page.


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