Growing onto the national stage

KINGSTON, ONTARIO – He is 13, skates with feel and tackles tough things. Perhaps Gabriel Farand is a star of tomorrow.

He’s in first place after the novice men’s short program at the Canadian Tire National Skating Championships. He started the fireworks among the young men last night, and finished it, too, earning 43.51 points, over Jeff Buttle look-a-like Gabriel St-Jean, who also trains at the same club, the École Etude with Julie Marcotte.

On a night with lots of triple toe loops and triple Salchows and various versions of them, Farand went for a triple Lutz and stumbled out of it, but not before he landed an ambitious triple toe loop – triple toe loop. (He landed a gorgeous triple Lutz on warmup.) There’s a lot more to come in his free skate: seven triples.  Farand was last year’s pre-novice champion.

St-Jean finished less than a point behind with 43.18, safely ahead of 4-foot-10 wunderkind Bruce Waddell, at 40.04, a musical skater with flair, who never misses a musical highlight.

Bruno Marcotte, a former pair skater who is known as a pair coach, has worked with Farand from the time the kid was seven and could do only a single Axel. Farand has picked up both of his tour-de-force moves this season, but not with ease. Over the past year, he’s grown about five inches. Marcotte says he’s grown a head. That intense growth spurt threw off his balance and generally made his life miserable.

Everything came together at the end of the summer.

“You can tell he’s really talented,” Marcotte said. “He has this beautiful air position.”

Farand wasn’t the only young Canadian skater sprouting up like wheat in a warm spring. Nicolas Nadeau, 17, of Boisbriand, Que., finished first in the junior men’s short program with a lofty 62. 10 points, after landing a smart triple Axel. He grew about five inches, too, and because this is his third year at the junior ranks, he’s determined to win this title. This was his first year competing internationally on the Junior Grand Prix circuit. “It taught me to skate on ice without lines,” he said, referring to hockey rink markings at home.

Nadeau currently can do a quad toe loop on two feet.

In second place in Antony Cheng, 17, of Richmond Hill, Ont., who skated with great speed, and launched such an enormous triple Lutz, that he thought – in mid-Lutz – that it was rather more huge than he intended. He hasn’t really tackled full-on training of a triple Axel. That’s a job for post-nationals, he said.

He is in his second year as a junior.

Edrian Paul Celestino, 16, of Dollar-des-Ormaeaux, Que., delivered a Rachmaninoff piano concerto that was a thing of beauty, but three silly mistakes dropped him to third with 58.24 points. He let loose with a gorgeous triple Lutz, landed right on the highlight of the music.

Fourth is Joseph Phan, who is only 13, but who grew a lot, and showed off great speed with a triple toe loop – triple toe loop and a sweet triple Lutz, a good start for his debut in junior. He was last year’s novice champion.

This year, he says he wanted to finish in the top five. He’s currently working on triple Axel and quadruple Salchow in the harness.

Brianna Delmaestro of Port Moody, B.C. and Timothy Lum of Burnaby, B.C. have been together since the spring of 2012, but their match was made in heaven. They are leading junior dance after winning the short dance with 59.21 points.

A new team of Lauren Collins and Shane Firus are in second place with 55.76 points and third are Melinda and Andrew Meng with 53.75.

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