OTTAWA: Sarah Tamura and Megan Yim are Canada’s answer to the flood of triple-jumping, overachieving Russian woman who are dominating international competition.
Tamura is a 12-year-old who on Tuesday, just became Canadian novice champion, while her training mate, Yim, also 12, finished third.
Caught in between the two tiny dynamos is Kim Decelles, 15, of Baie-Comeau, Quebec who won the silver medal with 105.72 points. Tamura topped the list with 108.29 points while Yim was on Decelles’ heels with 105.31 points.
Tamura and Yim train together, push each other and are friends in the rink of Joanne MacLeod, coach of Olympic team member Kevin Reynolds. “This is a dedicated project I’ve had for five years,” MacLeod said. “I am trying to see if I can push the elements a little for young skaters.”
Both Tamura and Yim can do all of the triples, including Lutz and flip although they competed on Tuesday with the other three, Salchow, toe loop and loop. “When I looked at all those Russian girls, I got a little jealous,” MacLeod said. “I think we want to see that anything is possible.”
Both girls auditioned in front of MacLeod years ago for this special project. Yim is gifted musically, too, and has taken ballet. Not surprisingly, she skated to “Giselle” on Tuesday, wearing a white tutu and a white crown on her head.
“She has the “it” factor,” MacLeod said. “She’s quite an intelligent girl.” Besides, MacLeod says she has a wonderful relationship with the two: that’s important for development, she said.
“I do it because it’s really fun for me to skate and feel the speed, and feel the freedom and jump high and have fun,” Yim said. On Tuesday, she got a rush from skating in the big rink of the Canadian Tire Centre.
Tamura, on the other hand, had a father who liked to race with her around the rink. With this, she developed a long stride. “I love her glide,” MacLeod said. “She’s got these beautiful knees.” She landed a triple Lutz for the first time last October.
Tamura said she wants to go to Junior Grand Prix events. And both have lofty goals. Kim wants to stand atop the Olympic podium. Tamura wants to be a world champion. Together, they will keep MacLeod busy for some time.
Earlier in the day, Valerie Taillefer and Jason Chan won the novice dance title, he looking elegant in his long navy tails, she his tiny foil.
Taillefer and Chan came from second place after the short dance to overtake Hannah Whitley and Elliott Graham, who had eyed a finish in the top 10, then found themselves tasting gold.
Taillefer, 14 of Montreal and Chan, 17, of Saint-Laurent, Que., won the free skate with 63.53 points to win the overall title with 90.54, more than three points ahead of Whitley and Graham.
In third were Megan Koenig-Croft and Jake Richardson with 80.54, exactly 10 points behind the gold medalists.
The new champs are in their third season together and are at the point where they want to distinguish themselves from others. They leave the ideas to coaches Elise Hamel and Shawn Winters and choreographer Shae Zukowsky. “We’ve been working on key points a lot during the year,” Taillefer said “We value that a lot.”
The twosome is fast friend, with Taillefer speaking French to Chan and Chan speaking English to his little partner. Both are bilingual. Their goals are to make a smooth transition to the junior ranks next year and perhaps land some Junior Grand Prix events.
They seemed an unlikely match at first: Taillefer didn’t like free skating. She always preferred dance and had a previous partner. Chan was a singles skater who had never considered ice dancing until he was coaxed into a tryout with Taillefer. Now he’s a national medalist.