Three time zones away, you know Brian Orser was smiling.
Ten-year-old Stephen Gogolev, who trains under the two-time Olympic silver medallist at the Toronto Cricket Skating and Curling club, is making quite the name for himself this week at the Canada Winter Games.
Less than three months after claiming the pre-novice men’s national title, Gogolev added another gold medal to his rapidly-expanding trophy case Wednesday, winning pre-novice gold once again in front of a boisterous, standing-room only crowd in Prince George. The youngster was simply dominating, scoring 73.17 in his free program for a 114.04 total. Quebec’s Samuel Turcotte (93.51) took silver, while hometown favourite own Justin Hampole (91.88) went home with bronze.
“I came here to do my best, and I’m really happy to go home with a gold medal,” Gogolev told reporters. “This has been a great experience for me.”
The final two competitors to close out the novice men’s competition, Hampole and Gogolev gave the crowd their money’s worth, setting off back-to-back standing ovations that seemed to rattle the walls at the Kin 1 Arena.
Off the ice, Gogolev and Hampole have formed a friendship this week, spending time together away from the rink.
“We’re going to the Nerf gun competition together later (Wednesday),” laughed Hampole. “We’ve really had a chance to get to know each other at this competition. I’ve got to see him around the hotel and at the village, so it’s been pretty cool.”
In pre-novice ice dance, reigning Canadian champions Arianne Bonneau and Oliver Zhang of Quebec scored 40.66 in their free dance to secure gold with a 68.75 total. Ontario’s Han Na Kim and Corey Circelli were second at 58.80 while Saskatchewan’s Tori Shmon and Alexander Hopkins placed third.
“We feel really good because we realized all of our goals this year,” said Zhang. “We wanted to come to the Canada Games and win gold for Quebec, so this is special.”
Matthew Lai of B.C. claimed the gold medal in Special Olympics Men’s Level 2, with fellow British Columbian Eric Pahima second and Michael Sumner of Yukon third. In the Men’s Level 3 competition, Jack Fan (Ontario), Thomas Babcock (Ontario) and Emanuel Bou Lutfalah (Quebec) were first, second and third, respectively.
To close out Wednesday night, the reigning national champion duo of Hannah Dawson and Daniel Villeneuve captured gold in pre-novice pair before Canadian champion Sarah-Maude Blanchard of Quebec edged out B.C.’s Olivia Gran for pre-novice women’s gold.
“It was a season that I couldn’t have dreamed of – winning our nationals and then this, what an experience,” said Dawson.
“It was an amazing time for us, and the crowd couldn’t have been better,” added Villeneuve. “We will remember this for a long time.”
Novice and Special Olympics women’s competitors will perform their free programs Thursday. The schedule is below (all times PT):
- Novice Pair Free 12:00 noon
- Novice Women Free 12:40 pm
- Special Olympics Women Level 2 – Free 14:55
- Special Olympics Women Level 3 – Free 15:45
- Novice Free Dance 19:05
- Novice Men Free 20:05
Medal ceremonies for pre-novice, novice and Special Olympics figure skating are scheduled for Thursday night following competition.
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