One frosty day in Boisbriand, Que., Nicolas Nadeau sat in front of the television set and found himself enthralled with the 2002 Olympic Games.
“I said to my mom: ‘I want to do that,’” said Nadeau, now 16.
His mother said: “Sure.”
Nadeau was good at all sports, but when his mother enrolled him in hockey, he found himself rolling over on early mornings and saying “Let me sleep.” Hockey was out. Figure skating for some reason, although it is known to have early mornings, too, was in.
All those years later, now Nadeau is leading the pack at the Canadian Tire National Skating Championships, scoring a decisive victory in the junior men’s short program. Nadeau finished with 65.60 points, while Denis Margalik, 16, of Mississauga, Ont., is second (after defeating him at Skate Canada Challenge in December.) Margalik, who fired off a beautiful triple Lutz – triple toe loop combo in the short, has 61.84 points. In third place is Bennet Toman with 57.76. The free skate is Wednesday.
“I was hoping to be in the top three,” Nadeau said. “And to do what I’m capable of.” He landed a triple toe loop – triple toe loop combination in the short.
Nadeau has always been a work in project for coaches in Quebec. Something like, shall we say, a curious sort, who was all over the place, some coaches didn’t want to teach him. “He needed a lot of attention,” said Yvan Desjardins, the brave one who took him on. “He’s a little bit better now.”
Already, Nadeau has a triple Axel and he’s working on a quad in the training harness. It’s only a matter of time.
Nadeau looks up to many skaters, but at first blush, he’ll tell you Patrick Chan. (“He’s pretty good.”) and Kurt Browning, because of his sense of humour, and his ability to portray any character. Nadeau loves to play a character.
In the past year, Nadeau has been training with more consistency, making the jumps happen when he wants.
He’ll have to be on his toes with skaters like 12-year-old Eric Liu on his heels. Liu, of Vancouver, showed up with his Dizzie Gillespie routine to “Salt Peanuts” and dazzled the small crowd with great speed and edges and fired off a triple Lutz – triple toe loop in the short program.
Last year he was second at the novice level and finished fourth in the junior men’s short program on Tuesday night. Two years ago, he competed at the pre-novice level.
In the junior pair short program, new pair Julianne Seguin, 17 of Montreal and Charlie Bilodeau, 20 of Rimouski, are enjoying a comfortable lead, with 56.54 points. In their only two competitions this year, they were fourth and fifth in Junior Grand Prix events.
Vanessa Grenier, 21, of Johnville, Que., and Maxime Deschamps,, 22, of Vaudreuil, Que., are in second place with 50.69 points.
Third are Dylan Conway, 16 of Toronto and Dustin Sherriff-Clayton of Newmarket, Ont., with 43.77 points. Only eight pairs competed.