Skate Canada names synchronized skating teams to world championships

OTTAWA, ON: Skate Canada is proud to be sending two talented synchronized skating teams to the 2014 ISU World Synchronized Skating Championships in Courmayeur, Italy from April 4-5, 2014.

Nexxice from the Burlington Skating Club and Les Suprêmes from the CPA Saint-Léonard   secured their entries to the world championships by finishing one-two at the 2014 Skate Canada Synchronized Skating Championships last weekend in Burnaby, B.C.

In 2013 Nexxice won the world silver medal and in 2009 they became the first North American team to win gold at the world championships. They are coached by Shelley Barnett and Anne Schelter.

Les Suprêmes placed sixth at last year’s ISU World Synchronized Skating Championships. They are coached by Marilyn Langlois, assisted by Pascal Denis and Amélie Brochu.

Earlier in the year the entries for the 2014 ISU Synchronized Skating Junior World Challenge Cup in Neuchâtel, Switzerland from March 6-8, 2014 were determined at a Skate Canada Central Ontario’s annual Winterfest competition. Les Suprêmes (junior) from CPA Saint-Léonard and Les Pirouettes of CPA Laval earned the two spots for Canada.


Canadians skaters come home with silver linings

Silver. Silver. And more silver.

Canadian skaters brought home a bundle of attractive Olympic medals of this precious metal, which has a white metallic lustre that can take a high degree of polish. There will be a lot of polishing of these medals, as athletes make the long trek back from Sochi with their booty.

In all, the largest team of figure skaters (17) to contest the Games in Sochi returned with three silver medals, won in the first team event ever held at the Olympics; by three-time world champion Patrick Chan; and by the exquisite ice dancers, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir.

In the pairs event, Kirsten Moore-Towers and Dylan Moscovitch finished fifth, while Canadian champions Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford were seventh, both at their first Olympics.

In the women’s event, Canada’s two entries also faced the Olympic rings for the first time and used the event for valuable experience for the future. Canadian champion Kaetlyn Osmond was 13th, while determined 16-year-old Gabby Daleman was 17th.

The skaters got busy the day before the opening ceremonies with the new team event – and nobody knew how it would work out. In the end, it made Chan the only man ever to win two figure skating medals at an Olympics. The men who accompanied him on the individual medals podium – Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan who took gold and Denis Ten of Kazakhstan – didn’t fare so well in the team event. In fact, there was no Kazakhstan team at all.

Duhamel and Radford finished second to eventual Olympic champions Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov in the team pair short program, with a season’s best of 73.10, then handed the torch to Moore-Towers and Moscovitch who were second to rising Russian stars Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov in the free skate. Both teams played a huge role in the Canadian team’s success.

Chan got into action early in the men’s short, but scaled down his quad toe loop – triple toe loop to a quad-double and then stepped out of his triple Axel, leaving him third behind picture-perfect Hanyu and a rejuvenated Evgeny Plushenko who was second. Chan finished with 89. 71 points, good enough to give Canada eight points toward the team total.

He handed off to Kevin Reynolds, who, despite his boot problems over the past year, pulled up his socks and soared. In fact, Reynolds clinched the silver medal for Canada, landing three quads and finishing only a quarter of a point behind Plushenko.

Kaetlyn Osmond skated both programs, and was magnificent in the short, landing a triple toe loop – triple toe loop combo for fifth place. She returned to finish fifth in the long.

Virtue and Moir finished second in the short dance with a bobble on a twizzle, but the medals were already decided before they skated the free dance: Russia had won. Virtue and Moir took second in that part, too.

“It was a great event for the young skaters,” said Moir, the team captain (ably assisted by his partner, Virtue). “We had Kaetlyn Osmond out there, 18 years old and we asked her to do two skates at an Olympic Games. The great thing about the team is that everybody pulled their weight. We’re so proud of the team.”

Duhamel and Radford drew into the second last group to skate the individual pairs short, and had only very minor errors and finished fifth. Paige Lawrence and Rudi Swiegers, skating at their first Olympics – and probably the first skaters from Saskatchewan to do so – wore a smile the whole time and finished 13th in a field of 20. The building was silent when Moore-Towers and Moscovitch skated their quirky Motely Crue routine; they made an error on the death spiral and sat sixth.

With a set of Stetsons in the audience (from Lawrence’s rodeo family), Lawrence and Swiegers skated with joy – Lawrence admitted she didn’t want to leave the ice. They finished 14th overall.

Moore-Towers and Moscovitch impressed with their great speed in the free skate, and with only a doubling of a triple Salchow, they ended up with 202.10 points, good for fifth place. Duhamel and Radford were seventh in the long and seventh overall.

The contest was tense in the men’s event, from which Plushenko withdrew because of back issues. Liam Firus tightened up in the short program, couldn’t get the knees to work and finished 28th, missing out on the long program. Reynolds came out with his fabulous AC/DC short program, but fell on his quad Salchow and then again on his triple Axel, leaving him in 17th place.

Chan finished second in the short, but was within striking distance of Hanyu, who had set a world record for the short program of 101.45. Chan was about four points back.

The free skate was a rough go, with many men making mistakes, but Chan held onto the silver medal with a hard-fought effort, only half a point behind Hanyu in the long program, but second with finishing with a score of 275.62 points.

In the ice dancing event, Kaitlyn Weaver, Andrew Poje, Alexandra Paul and Mitch Islam all took Olympic ice for the first time.  Weaver and Poje skated two strong programs for a top 10 finish, placing 7th overall. Paul and Islam had to overcome a twizzle mistake in the short dance but skated a lovely free dance to finish in 18th place.

Virtue and Moir were never better, delivering exquisite routines, first to Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong and then skating the story of their lives in the free dance. Their efforts earned them a silver medal to go along with their Olympic gold from 2010 and the Sochi team medal, too.

Beverley Smith

NEXXICE breaks Canadian record en route to eighth straight national crown at Skate Canada Synchronized Skating Championships

BURNABY, B.C. – It’s official – NEXXICE and Les Suprêmes can pack their packs for Italy.

The two senior synchronized skating powerhouses punched their tickets to the ISU World Synchronized Skating Championships, thanks to a one-two finish at the Skate Canada Synchronized Skating Championships Saturday in suburban Vancouver.

NEXXICE did it in record-breaking fashion.

The Burlington, Ont.-based team claimed their eighth straight Canadian senior crown, posting 148.90 in the free skate to take gold with 228.12 points, setting a new Canadian record in the process. NEXXICE shattered their own Canadian record of 223.58, which they set at the 2009 world championships – where they won gold.

Quebec’s Les Suprêmes (215.02) finished second while Edge earned bronze.

Both NEXXICE and Les Suprêmes will represent Canada at the ISU World Synchronized Skating Championships to be staged April 3-5 in Courmayeur, Italy. NEXXICE has won silver at the world championships in each of the past two years, missing out on gold by half a point in 2013.

“This doesn’t get old at all,” NEXXICE coach Shelley Barnett said of her squad’s eight straight titles. “It’s really exciting for our girls.

“Every year is a different team, different programs, and new challenges. We are really looking forward to skating at worlds.”

Two other Canadian champions were crowned Saturday. Les Suprêmes took home junior gold with a sparkling free program, scoring 111.30 for a two-day total of 172.10. The silver went to NEXXICE (164.72) and Les Pirouettes (159.96) were rewarded with bronze.

In the open category, Nova, from Quebec, secured gold with a free program score of 96.86 and a 140.70 total. Gold Ice (129.72) won silver while NEXXICE (128.01) skated away with bronze.

On Friday, Les Suprêmes won novice gold while Synchronicity won the national intermediate title.

Les Suprêmes, Synchronicity take home novice, intermediate gold at Skate Canada Synchronized Skating Championships

BURNABY, B.C. – Les Suprêmes were crowned Canadian novice champions while Synchronicity took home intermediate gold Friday at the 2014 Skate Canada Synchronized Skating Championships.

Performing a dazzling Michael Jackson routine that had the Bill Copeland Sports Centre on its feet, Quebec’s Les Suprêmes, the leaders after the opening day of competition, scored 77.58 in the second free program to claim novice gold with a 112.31 total. Their provincial counterparts, Nova, finished second at 98.40 while NEXXICE, from Western Ontario, took bronze with a 97.69 total.

After starting the day in sixth spot, defending champions Les Pirouettes made a charge for the podium before falling just short, finishing in fourth spot with 92.02 points.

Synchronicity won the Canadian intermediate title, edging Évolution for gold. The Western Ontario team scored 69.94 in their final free program for a 102.72 total, while Évolution came in at 102.62 for silver. Nova took bronze with 98.92 points.

Teams in the open, junior and senior categories took to the ice for their opening programs Friday.

NEXXICE, the back-to-back world silver medallists, set the tone in the senior division, scoring 79.22 in their short program to vault into top spot ahead of Les Suprêmes (74.54). The top two finishers in the senior category after Saturday’s free program will wear the Canadian colours at the ISU World Synchronized Skating Championships in Italy in April.

Les Suprêmes were also quick out of the gate in the junior short program, managing 60.80, more than six points clear of second-place Les Pirouettes (54.32).

In the Open Free Program #1, Nova scored 43.84 to hold a slight edge on NEXXICE (42.93) and Central Ontario’s Gold Ice (39.64).

Competition closes out Saturday, with the second open free program along with the junior and senior free programs. Tickets are available at the door. Ticket prices are $15 for adults, $10 for seniors and $5 for children (ages 6-16).

Les Suprêmes novice, Evolution intermediate set early pace at Skate Canada Synchronized Skating Championships

BURNABY, B.C. – Les Suprêmes Novice and Evolution Intermediate took first steps towards national titles Thursday as the 2014 Skate Canada Synchronized Skating Championships kicked off in Burnaby, B.C.

Les Suprêmes, from Quebec, set the early pace in the novice category, scoring 34.73 to take a slim lead into Friday’s second free program. NEXXICE, representing Western Ontario, holds down second spot at 31.99.

Defending novice champions Les Pirouettes of Quebec scored 29.60 and are currently sixth.

In the first of two intermediate free programs, Quebec’s Evolution scored 33.90 to take the lead heading into Friday’s second free program. Synchronicity, the defending intermediate national champions from Western Ontario, are in second with 32.78 points, while another Quebec team, Nova, holds down third spot at 32.63.

More than 40 teams from across Canada are competing for Canadian crowns at the Bill Copeland Sports Centre in novice, intermediate, open, junior and senior.

Both the novice and intermediate teams will battle for medals Friday followed by the Open Free Program #1 and the junior and senior short programs.

Competition wraps up Saturday with the second Open free program as well as the junior and senior free programs. The senior gold and silver medallists will represent Canada at the 2014 ISU World Synchronized Skating Championships in Courmayeur, Italy in April.

Single-day tickets are available at the door. Ticket prices are $15 for adults, $10 for seniors and $5 for children (ages 6-16).

Bright future ahead for Kaetlyn Osmond and Gabby Daleman

Canadian champion Kaetlyn Osmond and national silver medalist Gabby Daleman will have much to remember and much to learn from their Olympic experience in Sochi.

Neither quite met their goals: Osmond hoped for top 10 (she ended 13th) and Daleman aspired to top 15 (she moved up to 17th after finishing 16th in the free), but this event was meant to be a start, a learning experience for the next one. And they got an eyeful.

For one, Daleman was able to breathe in the advice of bronze medalist Carolina Kostner, who, like her, worked with choreographer Lori Nichol. “She’s a beautiful person,” Daleman said of Kostner, who is 11 years older. “She’s a wonderful skater and I love to watch her.”

Kostner gave Daleman great advice during her trips to Toronto: “Even if the jumps don’t go the way you want, never give up on your program,” Kostner told her. “Always skate with your heart.”

Kostner followed her own advice, skated two high quality programs and finally had the Olympics she wanted, in her third attempt. This bronze was her first medal.

Adelina Sotnikova won to the huge adulation of her home crowd with 224.59 points, defeating defending Olympic champion Yuna Kim, whose routine was one for the ages. Kim finished with 219.11 while Kostner had 216.73. Kostner admitted she was totally spent afterwards.

“It was amazing to be here and honoured to be here,” she said. “It was a dream to skate a dream competition and it happened to be at the Olympic Games.”

Sotnikova was the first Russian/Soviet woman to win the Olympic gold medal and only the fourth to win on home ice, following Madge Syers of Britain in 1908, Carol Heiss in 1960 and Sara Hughes in 2002.

Sotnikova is also the youngest medal winner for Russia in a singles event. At 17 years, 234 days, she smashed Evgeny Plushenko’s mark of 19 years, and 103 days. Her score was the second highest women’ score of all time.

Osmond started her Cleopatra routine, looking as if on fire, landing a triple flip- double toe loop and then nailing a powerful double Axel –triple toe loop. She later doubled a triple flip, and fell on a triple toe loop. But she dusted herself off, and fought on, getting level fours for a layback spin and her step sequence.

Osmond finished with 168.98 points, after earning a season’s best 112.80 in the free. “This is only the second time I’ve competed this program internationally,” Osmond said. “So I’m happy with how it went.”

It wasn’t perfect, but Osmond said it was a big step up from the team event. “I was more comfortable out there today than I was yesterday,” she said. “Today I managed to enjoy myself and execute most of my jumps. I’m satisfied”

After Osmond fell on the triple toe loop, she came back fighting and that in itself is a win. (Witness Mao Asada, after her devastating 16th place finish in the short, returning to deliver the third highest score free skate, enough to finish third in that portion of the event). “I’m happy that I started my Olympic experience with a strong short program in the team event,” Osmond said. “And I finished with a strong free tonight.”

Her Cleopatra routine – in which she emerges beautifully and exotically dressed, is her favourite. “I thought after last year, that I would never love any program more than those, but this program really trumps them.”

Daleman, known for her powerful entrance into the triple Lutz – triple toe loop, made mistakes on it again in the long, as she did in the short. The triple toe loop was deemed to be under-rotated. She singled her triple toe loop that followed a double Axel. But she delivered a three-jump triple flip combo, a triple Lutz, a triple loop and a flying camel spin that got a level four.

She finished with 95.83 points for the free skate, for 148.44 points overall.

What did she learn? “No matter what happens, don’t give up,” she said afterward. “Just keep trying because things can’t always be perfect, so you’ve got to push through and work your hardest.”

They both will be back. Their journeys have only started.

Asada’s free skate was Olympic. After so many years of missing the triple Axel and suffering through a short program on Wednesday, when she fell on it, Asada did not buckle and went for it in the long. She was awarded full rotation of it. It was landed on one foot. She did get under-rotations on two other elements and an edge call on a Lutz, but it didn’t matter. It was the comeback of the ages.

The stoic Asada dissolved in tears and later said: “I was determined to carry out what I’ve been working on all along. I wasn’t that sharp in practice this morning and yesterday was a massive disappointment.

“I owed a lot to those people that supported me over the years, and I wanted to pay them back with a great long program. I wasn’t worried about the score. I had to fight the fear in me. “

That’s what it’s all about.

Beverley Smith

First-time Olympians Kaetlyn Osmond and Gabrielle Daleman advance to Thursdays free programs

Okay, so it was less than perfect for the Canadian women in the women’s short program at the Olympics. Note: it was their first Olympics. It was Gabby Daleman’s first senior international competition.

The short program is a tough place for a miscue. It can be costly. Canadian champion Kaetlyn Osmond’s first triple-triple turned into a triple toe loop – double toe loop in a flash and it’s not a combination that gets a lot of points. Then she slipped off the edge of a double Axel, but sold the rest of the program, well enough to land her in 13th place with 56.18 points. She’s aiming for a top-10 finish at these Games.

Daleman, early out of the box, went for the gusto, and may have tried to make her combo too big. She put a hand down on her triple Lutz, and had the presence of mind to squeeze in her triple toe loop. She’s in 19th place with 52.51 points and hoping for top 15.

“I messed up my Lutz-toe, but I’m still so proud,” Daleman said afterwards.

Above both of them, was worse heartbreak. Mao Asada, the 2010 Olympic silver medalist and an icon in the sport, lost her way, tragically. She had landed a beautiful triple Axel in warmup, and she appeared to be on her way to another during her Chopin routine, when she fell. It seemed to shock her. She did not complete a combination, and then doubled a triple loop. Marks disappeared like water through a sieve. She ended up 16th, almost 20 points behind defending Olympic champion Yu-Na Kim, on top with 74.92, the best short program score of the season.

Asada scored 55.21 points, only 2.70 points ahead of Daleman. She no longer has a shot for a medal.

“I don’t know what to make of this now,” she said. “All I can do is give it everything I have tomorrow. I can’t comprehend any of this.”

She said training had been going well, but when she started the program, she said she couldn’t control her emotions or her body.

“Heartbreaking” Michelle Kwan said in a tweet.

“Mao has a gentle grace… tweeted US pair skater John Coughlin. “I’d have watched if she marked all three jumps.”

Kim had the opposite experience. She was so nervous in the warm-up, that she said she couldn’t jump at all. “But I tried to believe in myself and believe in what I’ve done before,” she said.

When the music started, she said she felt as if she was dreaming.

She skated a winsome, magical routine to “Send in the Clown,” choreographed by Canadian David Wilson, and did a triple Lutz-triple toe loop with ease. Her technical points were higher than her program components by about three points.

Carolina Kostner delivered a memorable moment with her “Ave Maria” routine, not only because it was beautiful, but because she did a very Olympic thing. During the team event, she had done only a triple toe loop – triple toe loop, but she upped the difficulty by doing a triple flip – triple toe loop during the short program Wednesday.

“I didn’t even talk to my coach about changing it,” she said. “Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. I’m thankful that he left the choice up to me. I wanted to show him that I could do it.” She earned 74.12 points, only about half a point behind Kim.

But Kostner ended up third after Adelina Sotnikova of Russia faced the loud, supportive Russian crowd. Sotnikova did the easier triple toe loop – triple toe loop but still finished second with 74.64, only a quarter of a point behind the defending Olympic champion.

Sotnikova said she was a little nervous, but treated the event like a normal competition. “I was very happy that my technical mark was so high,” she said. (At 39.09, it was .06 of a point higher than Kim’s mark and about 1 ½ points higher than Kostner’s).

And she outshone fellow Russian Julia Lipnikstaia, who had skated both sections of the team event, and had suddenly developed a celebrity status at home. Lipnitskaia is in fifth place with 65.23 points after falling from a triple flip – something she rarely does.

“I don’t know what happened,” she said sadly. “I wasn’t nervous. I didn’t feel too much pressure. The crowd helped me.” The marks weren’t as low as she expected.

US champion Gracie Gold is in fourth place with 68.63 points, about six points back of the leader. “I was happy to perform under the bright lights and stress,” she said “It’s a tough event.”

The other two Americans are right behind her: Ashley Wagner is sixth, while Polina Edmunds is seventh.

The Canadian women have their own goals to achieve in Thursday’s long program. “It definitely wasn’t as good a program as I did in the team event,” Osmond said. “The jumps were a little shaky and I just couldn’t save them today. My components felt great, though. Of course, it’s not what I wanted to do, but I still have one more skate to go. Tomorrow I will focus and let things happen.”

In the kiss and cry, Osmond did not think about her miscues. She thought about what she did well.

Daleman got a season’s best mark of 52.61 and admitted she was a little nervous about what she faced: having her first senior international be the Olympic Games. She said she added more detail to both of her programs since finishing second at the Canadian Tire National Skating Championships.

Beverley Smith

Canadian titles on the line at the 2014 Skate Canada Synchronized Skating Championships in Burnaby

OTTAWA, ON: Synchronized skating teams from across the country will descend on Burnaby, British Columbia for the 2014 Skate Canada Synchronized Skating Championships, taking place from February 20-22, 2014 at the Bill Copeland Sports Centre.

The event will host approximately 800 skaters and coaches on 41 teams. Teams will compete for national titles in the senior, junior, open, intermediate and novice categories. The top two senior teams will represent Canada at the 2014 ISU World Synchronized Skating Championships from April 4-5, 2014, in Courmayeur, Italy.

“The Skate Canada Synchronized Skating Championships is one of the most thrilling events of the year. The event combines the skill and artistry of figure skating coupled with the synchronized movements of a team,” said Dan Thompson, CEO Skate Canada. “We are excited to be in Burnaby for this event and with national titles and world spots on the line fans can expect a great competition.”

Tickets are available at the door at $30 for adults and $20 for children and seniors.


Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir win silver medal in captivating performance

Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir finished their second Olympics the way that means the most: two spellbinding programs, done flawlessly, done so that pins drop, done so that the tears come.

They won a silver medal while setting a world record of 114.66 points for their free skate, at least for a short time. The score was second to Meryl Davis and White’s new record of 116.63.

In all, Davis and White gave the United States its first Olympic gold medal ice dancing with a total of 195.52 points, also a world record, beating the mark they set at the Grand Prix Final of 191.35. Virtue and Moir walk away with 190.99 points.

Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov of Russia took the bronze medal, well back with a total of 183.48 points after finishing third in both programs.

Canadian silver medalists Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje finished seventh overall, unable to overcome low marks in the short program. But they finished fifth in the free dance with a season’s best score of 103.18, for a final score of 169.50.

Alexandra Paul and Mitchell Islam had to overcome a twizzle mistake in the short dance which landed them in 18th place. But they got to skate their free dance and show the hospitable Russian crowd their wares: a lovely set of twizzles, cleanly done, soft and seamless lifts, difficult entries into lifts, and a beautiful flow over the ice. They finished 16th in the free dance, but ended up 18th overall with 138.70 in their first major international competition. They had never competed at a world championship before.

Virtue emerged on ice in pale pink, took Moir’s hand and dazzled, telling the story of their lives together, all 17 years of it, the highs and lows, and finally, finishing with their hands on their hearts. “I think I’m ready for another four years,” Moir said in the kiss and cry. Nobody believed him.

“Wow, Tessa and Scott, goosebumps,” tweeted Joannie Rochette.

“THAT was the best skating I have ever seen. I never felt so involved in a performance before,” tweeted Eric Radford.

Virtue admitted that it was stressful skating on the biggest stage in the world, but they handled it. “It’s a pretty ambitious program and it’s a loaded program and I think we did it pretty well.

“We felt intense pressure. We trained 17 years for this moment.”

Their free dance bettered their previous season’s best by more than two points. “It was what we wanted to do today,” Moir said. “That program was our baby – and it’s special for us to perform it for the last time. We handled ourselves in the best way possible.”

Was winning silver a disappointment? “We would have liked to bring home a gold for Canada but no one close to us will love us any less because we’re bringing home silver,” Virtue said.

Moir said he did not know what their plans were for the future – although it sounds as if they are not continuing on to the world championships in Tokyo. They will do Stars on Ice during the spring. There, they will meet up with Jeff Buttle, who tweeted: “Love those two.”

As for Weaver and Poje – the next wave of talented skaters that will represent Canada, they went out with the idea in mind that they had nothing to lose after a disappointing score in the short program. “It was liberating,” Weaver said. “Everything from the day before disappeared when we started tonight.”

Beating 100 points is good for them, Weaver said. “It’s the best score we’ve gotten on this program since it debuted. We’re just happy that our performance matches our score.”

Poje admitted that it was “deflating” to see the scores for the short program, and it was “hard to sit back and take” it.

“But it made us want to come out and do a good performance even more so today,” he said. And they did.

Russians Ilinkyh and Katsalapov almost didn’t fully realize it was over when they took their final pose in the free dance. “There was a pause and only then did I realize that we did it. We skated our Olympic Games and now we have our bronze.”

Finishing in the hardest spot of all was the French team Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat, whose routine to “the Little Prince” was a treat. They were more than six points behind the Russians.

Finally, Davis said that training alongside Virtue and Moir had been an honour. “We’ve been pushing each other and pushing our sport, not just here, but for the last four years,” Davis said.

Beverley Smith


SOCHI, RUSSIA – Canada’s Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir captured a silver medal in figure skating’s ice dance competition at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Games.

“What a performance by a truly remarkable Canadian team. In winning a silver medal for their trophy cases, Tessa and Scott have once again shown Canada and the world they are one of the great ice dance teams in figure skating history, said Marcel Aubut, President, Canadian Olympic Committee. “Their 17 years together as ice dance partners have been filled with greatness – Olympic medals, Canadian championships and world championships and we loved every minute of it. Congratulations once again to Tessa and Scott for being such extraordinary ambassadors for the sport around the world.”

Canada’s two other ice dancing duos competed in the free skate event, with Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje finishing in 7th place, and Alexandra Paul and Islam Mitchell finishing 18th.

Canada now has 15 medals at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games (4 gold, 7 silver and 4 bronze).

From the Canadian Olympic Committee

Virtue & Moir leave the Iceberg Palace breathless with phenomenal short dance

Defending Olympic champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir delivered an Olympic moment in the Sochi short dance, channelling Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong, mustering all the lush skills for which they’re known.

When they finished, Moir leaped up and down on the ice with utter joy. It was what they had been training for over the past four years and the moment they’ve been searching for all season.

“We certainly felt more like ourselves out there tonight,” Virtue explained. “We created the moment we wanted to create. I don’t think we could have done it much better than we did tonight.”

They are in second place with 76.33 points, 2.56 points behind their U.S. training mates Meryl Davis and Charlie White, with 78.89, a world record score. “We were just in our zone,” White said. Virtue and Moir are still within striking distance of winning gold, so is the perfect skate all that matters?

“We sat in the kiss and cry and kind of looked at each other and said: ‘It does matter,’” Virtue said.

“We like our chances,” Moir said.

Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov of Russia out finished their more highly ranked teammates Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev, to take third spot with 73.04 points.

At the moment the young Russians are winning a tightly fought battle for the bronze medal, taking a narrow lead over French veterans Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat with 72.78; Bobrova and Soloviev at 69.97, Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte of Italy in sixth with 67.58 while Canadians Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje – who had the third highest score of the season – are in seventh place with 65.93 points.

Alexandra Paul and Mitchell Islam are in 18th place – making the cut for the long program ­-after Paul bobbled on her second of three twizzles. They finished with 55.91 points, about four points lower than their personal best. “We’re not disappointed with our score because we had a bit of a rough skate,” Islam said. “We put up a good fight and now we’ll put it behind us. We still have tomorrow.”

Before they stepped out on the ice, Virtue and Moir hugged each other for a long time. And just before the music started, he gave her a wink.

And this time, their twizzles were perfect, robust, quick, moving forward with grace, driven by confident edges. After they finished, legendary Russian coach Tatiana Tarasova stood in the stands and applauded with enthusiasm.

She wasn’t the only one. Both Susanna Rahkamo and Petri Kokko, who had invented the Finnstep to which they had to skate, applauded them, too. “Thanks for a beautiful Finnstep,” Kokko said in a tweet.

Moir said that he and Virtue felt a little more pressure during the team short dance, but their ease and comfort returned for the performance on Sunday, even though the six days between events had Moir “twiddling” his thumbs. It was a challenge. But that all fell away when they skated into the bright lights. “I think you could tell by our reaction that we were really excited by that skate,” he said.

They did what they needed to do to win a second gold medal, Moir said. “When you have a career like ours, so much hard work goes into everything. We’ve worked so hard this season and every season to get us here. Now we just want to enjoy ourselves.”

Katsalapov wore a little grin before this Russian team began, and they delivered nice twizzles and excellent skating skills with ease. They had been part of the Russian team that won gold, and they gained confidence from competing in it. But Ilinykh said the team medal didn’t satisfy them that much and “we forgot about it quite quickly,” she said. “Still, it has helped us a lot mentally in the individual event.”

Katsalapov said he felt a 100 per cent connection to his partner, and so it looked perfect. For the free dance, he says they are not going to compete against anyone. “We’re just going to do our job cleverly as we did tonight,” he said.

Weaver and Poje lost marks in their twizzles, their first Finnstep pattern and a midline step sequence. “We’re thrilled with the way we performed tonight,” Weaver said. “It might have been our best short dance of the season.”

“Nothing can wipe the smiles from our faces,” she said. The atmosphere in the arena was “electrifying,” she said. “I was thinking to myself: ‘Thank goodness we’re doing a happy program,” because I couldn’t help but smile out there. I was also thinking: ‘Do everything right.’ Those are the memories we’re making here that I’ll never forget.”

Poje said they were disappointed with their marks but “we’re not here for the marks,” he said.

The French got their season’s best marks, but in fourth place, they promise to attack more for the free skate Monday. “We want to skate like crazy,” Pechalat said. “We want to bring emotion.” Everybody will.

Beverley Smith

Patrick Chan wins his second silver medal of the Sochi Olympics

Patrick Chan will go home with two silver medals, one from today’s men’s competition and one from the team event. “But I kind of wish it was a different colour,” Chan said.

So much pressure. So much to do, at each step in a men’s Olympic program nowadays.

Yuzuru Hanyu is the new Olympic champion, all of 19 years old, the youngest in 66 years, but it didn’t look that way after he skated and made several uncharacteristic mistakes. He had swung the door wide open for Chan, who skated directly after him. All Chan had to do was walk through it.

But pressure fell on Chan’s shoulders just as much as on Hanyu’s and every other skater who faced the bright lights of the Iceberg Palace. Few of them found perfection. Chan delivered his patented and lofty quad toe – triple toe combo, then put a hand down on a quad toe. He staggered out of a triple Axel and put both hands down on the ice, doubled a Salchow that was the final element in a jump sequence, and even stumbled out of a double Axel at the end of his Four Seasons routine.

“We’re all human,” Chan said. “Even Shawn White makes mistakes. Unfortunately, I made one too many.”

Chan finished second in the free skate with 178.10 points, just .54 less than Hanyu. And he had four points to make up from the short program, so he finished second with 275.62 points. Hanyu won with 280.09.

Hanyu’s Toronto training mate, Javier Fernandez of Spain, lost a bronze medal when he inserted a triple Salchow late in his routine, and got no points for it. Even though he didn’t do it in combination, he’d done one singly before that, and so judges counted it as a combination. But he had already done three combos and the limit is three. So Fernandez got no points for the element, which is worth 4.62 points. He lost the bronze medal by 1.18 points to Denis Ten of Kazakhstan, who had disappeared for most of the season as he recovered from very serious infections, stemming from boot problems.

Ten won the bronze medal with 255.10 points, with Fernandez fourth. Tatsuki Machida of Japan actually finished slightly ahead of Fernandez in the long program, but ended up fifth overall. Daisuke Takahashi was sixth, buoyed by his high (and well deserved) component marks.

Kevin Reynolds found redemption in the free skate, which was far from perfect (he under-rotated two of his three quads), but decent all the same, after a tough season trying to figure out boot problems. He was 15th overall with 222.23 points.

“Tonight was a little bit of redemption,” Reynolds said. “I managed to stay on my feet.”

“It’s so difficult to come back from such a disappointing performance the day before. Practice this morning was one of the hardest practices of my life. I knew that my medal chances were gone. I didn’t sleep much last night, but I fought through it and that’s all I could do.”

Ten also didn’t sleep well, after struggling to a ninth-place finish in the short program. “I felt much better than yesterday,” he said. “Yesterday I felt slow. Today I was energized.” He blasted his previous season’s best by about 20 points in the free.

Hanyu fell on his opening quad Salchow, and then he stumbled out of a triple flip. He missed a triple Salchow that was part of a jump sequence. He seemed scattered and slower than usual. It was a hard fight.

In winning, Hanyu brought glory to coach Brian Orser, one of those Canadians who had failed to win an Olympic gold medal in 1988. But as a coach, Orser, working from his base in Toronto, has trained two consecutive Olympic champions now. His first student, Yu-Na Kim, won Olympic gold in Vancouver four years ago.

Chan said although disappointed, he’s proud of the way he handled the intense pressure all week. “I don’t know if I could have handled the pressure [a year ago] and skated this way,” he told a reporter. He was proud that he didn’t go insane. He fell 4.47 points short of gold and it will be “a lingering thought,” he said.

“I gave it my all, I swear,” he said. “I was close.”

Bobsledder Kaillie Humphries was watching and tweeted: “You inspire us all.” Well wishes flooded Chan’s twitter account.

Other interesting moments: Jeremy Abbott actually out finished Jason Brown in the free skate, after he ditched a quad attempt and skated for himself. He ended up eighth in the long program, while Brown made mistakes and finished 11th. Abbott earned higher technical marks than Fernandez.

Takahashi, skating at his last Olympics, and trying to overcome a knee problem, finished fifth overall after landing his quad on two feet, although it was one of his better attempts of the event. But he didn’t waste a note in his beautiful style and actually had the second highest component score of the long program, topped only by Chan. Takahashi edged Hanyu by .02 points in performance marks. There were no perfect 10s to be had by anybody.

Beverley Smith