Meng and Meng stay in top-five at Junior Grand Prix

RIGA, Latvia – Melinda Meng and Andrew Meng of Montreal produced the third best free dance on Saturday to finish fifth overall in ice dancing at the second stop on the ISU Junior Grand Prix figure skating circuit.

Betina Popova and Yuri Vlasenk of Russia won the gold medal, Angelique Abachkina and Louis Tauron of France were second and Sofia Evdomikova and Egor Bazin of Russia third.

The Mengs were fifth after the short program. While they didn’t advance in the standings after their standout performance Saturday they were only 2.06 points out of third spot. They scored an international personal best of 130.51 points.

Hannah Whitley of Creemore, Ont., and Elliott Graham of Angus, Ont., were seventh.

In men’s competition, Canadian junior champion Nicolas Nadeau of Boisbriand, Que., struggle in his long program and placed fifth overall. He was second after the short program on Thursday.

‘’It’s disappointing,’’ said Nadeau. ‘’One of my goals this year was to go to the Junior Grand Prix Final and that won’t happen now. Now my focus is going to be on competing at the nationals for the first time at the senior level.’’

Dmitri Aliev of Russia took the gold, Deniss Vailjevs of Latvia second and Alexei Krasnozhon of the U.S. third.

The third stop on the circuit is next weekend in Colorado Springs.

Full results: 2015 Riga Cup

Canadian skaters gain valuable experience at ISU Junior Grand Prix

RIGA, Latvia – Justine Brasseur of Brossard, Que., and Mathieu Ostiguy of Ste-Angèle-de-Monnoir, Que., took sixth spot in in pairs to complete their international debut on Friday at the second stop on the ISU Junior Grand Prix circuit.

Renata Oganesian and Mark Bardei of Ukraine won gold with 144.29 points, Anastasia Poluianova and Stepan Korotkov of Russia were second at 138.75 and their compatriots Ekaterina Borisova and Dmitry Sopot were third at 135.42.

‘’We made two mistakes that cost us a higher placing,’’ said Brasseur, 14. ‘’Still we are very pleased with our first showing at the Junior Grand Prix. We have some goals we want to meet in terms of our scoring this season and we know what we need to do to improve.’’

In women’s competition, Maria Sotskova of Russia was the winner with Kaori Skamoto of Japan second and Da Bin Choi of South Korea third.

Sarah Tamura of Burnaby, B.C., produced the eighth best long program to jump from 21st to 13th overall.

‘’I had a disastrous short program and I wanted to bounce back from that,’’ said Tamura, 14. ‘’I wanted to go out there and skate my long program like I do every day in training and I achieved that.’’

In ice dancing earlier Friday, Melinda Meng and Andrew Meng of Montreal are fifth after the short dance and Hannah Whitley of Creemore, Ont., and Elliott Graham of Angus, Ont., sixth.

Men’s competition got underway Thursday. Canadian junior champion Nicolas Nadeau of Boisbriand, Que., stands second after the short program.

The free dance and men’s free skate are on Saturday.

Full results: 2015 Riga Cup

Canadian skaters head to Latvia for second stop on ISU Junior Grand Prix circuit

OTTAWA, ON: Skate Canada will send eight skaters, for a total of five entries to Riga, Latvia, for the second stop on the ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating. Canada will have one entry per category in men’s, ladies and pair, and two entries in ice dance. The competition takes place from August 26-30, 2015.

Canadian Junior Champion in 2015, Nicolas Nadeau, 17, Boisbriand, Que., is Canada’s sole entry in men’s. Last year, Nadeau placed fifth and 10th respectively at his ISU Junior Grand Prix assignments in Japan and Croatia. He also placed 25th at the ISU World Junior Figure Skating Championships. Nadeau trains at École Excellence Rosemère and is coached by Yvan Desjardins.

Sarah Tamura, 14, Burnaby, B.C., is Canada’s lone entry in ladies. Last season, she placed 14th at the ISU Junior Grand Prix in Japan and 13th in Croatia. The representative of Burnaby FSC also placed sixth in the junior category at the 2015 Canadian Tire National Skating Championships. Tamura is coached by Joanne McLeod, Jill-Marie Harvey, and Neil Wilson at the Champs International Skating Centre.

Justine Brasseur, 14, Brossard, Que., and Mathieu Ostiguy, 18, Sainte-Angèle-de-Monnoir, Que., are the Canadian pair entry at the event. Representing CPA Brossard and CPA Saint-Césaire, the 2015 Canadian novice champions will be competing at their first international assignment. Brasseur and Ostiguy train in Chambly, Que., with coaches Josée Picard and Marc-André Craig.

Melinda Meng, 16, Montreal, Que., and Andrew Meng, 18, Montreal, Que., are the first of two Canadian entries in ice dance. Representing CPA Laval, the Mengs won bronze at the 2015 Canadian Tire National Skating Championships in the junior category, and placed seventh at their ISU Junior Grand Prix assignment last season in France. The Mengs are coached by Shawn Winter in Pierrefonds, Que.

Hannah Whitley, 15, Creemore, Ont., and Elliott Graham, 17, Angus, Ont., are the second Canadian entry in ice dance. Last season, they placed 10th at their international assignment in Croatia and placed fifth in the junior category at the 2015 Canadian Tire National Skating Championships. Whitley and Graham are coached by David Islam and Kelly Johnson at the Mariposa School of Skating in Barrie, Ont.

Bev Viger of Abbotsford, B.C., will be the Canadian team leader at the event. Dr. Ed Pilat of Winnipeg, Man., and physiotherapist Mireille Landry of Toronto, Ont., will be the Canadian team medical staff on site. Lynne Dey of Edmonton, Alta., and Pam Chislett of Grand Prairie, Alta., will be the Canadian officials at the event.

For results and full entries please visit

Live streaming will be available through the ISU’s YouTube channel.


Discipline Name Age Hometown Club Coach
Men’s Nicolas Nadeau 17 Boisbriand, Que. CPA Boisbriand Yvan Desjardins
Ladies Sarah Tamura 14 Burnaby, B.C. Burnaby FSC Joanne McLeod / Jill-Marie Harvey / Neil Wilson
Pair Justine Brasseur / Mathieu Ostiguy 14/18 Brossard, Que. / Sainte-Angèle-de-Monnoir, Que. CPA Brossard / CPA Saint-Césaire Josée Picard / Marc-André Craig
Ice Dance Melinda Meng / Andrew Meng 16/18 Montreal, Que. / Montreal, Que. CPA Laval / CPA Laval Shawn Winter
Ice Dance Hannah Whitley / Elliott Graham 15/17 Creemore, Ont. / Angus, Ont. Barrie SC / Barrie SC David Islam / Kelly Johnson

Pettitt Makes Leap to Junior With Hopes of Continuing Gold Rush

Whitehorse, Yukon is known as the least polluted city in the world, and also the driest in Canada. It was the birthplace of Pierre Berton, federal NDP leader Audrey McLaughlin, and Yukon bard Robert Service.

It is also the home of Rachel Pettitt, the first Yukon born athlete to win a national skating title. She won a gold medal in the novice women’s category at the Canadian Tire National Skating Championships in Kingston, ON, in January.

In a town of 25,000 (largest in Northern Canada), with three ball diamonds, a Canada Games multiplex (with pools, ice rinks, a fieldhouse, and a fitness centre,) three golf courses and a bowling alley, it was the Arctic Edge Skating Club where Pettitt’s mother, Trish, caught the skating bug first.

Rachel’s three older brothers started out in CanSkate, with Trish coaching it. “My family was all on the ice, so they got to put me on and see how it goes,” Rachel said. “And then I loved it. I loved spinning and jumping.”

While Trish may have hoped her sons would become figure skaters, they turned into hockey players. After all, father Kerry is a hockey coach when he’s not working for Northwestel, a telecommunications company serving the north.

Trish was born in Whitehorse, skated with her sisters, and then went off to Vancouver for a while to hone those skills. Now she’s a coach. And Rachel has followed in her footsteps by moving to Kelowna B.C., where she works with coaches Karen and Jason Mongrain.

In Whitehorse, Rachel learned all the fundamentals. She achieved all her gold tests there for skills, interpretive, and free skate. The dancing skills that she learned in Whitehorse also really helped. “I always did off-ice dance, off-ice ballet,” she said.

“I loved training in Whitehorse,” said Rachel. “But now that I’m older, I needed to move on, and get some real training in.” That meant, at first, Calgary, which she came to love. There she worked with Scott Davis and the late Sharon Lariviere. “She was amazing,” Rachel said. “I give a lot of credit to her. My mom got coached by her too and a lot of my cousins. I learned the basics from her. I learned a lot about posture, a lot about your lines. I learned a lot of jumps, spinning. She did everything for me.”

By the time she was 11, Rachel had moved to Kelowna, and it was scary at first, she said, living by herself, boarding with a family. When she was in grade eight, she returned to Whitehorse, because it was difficult to be away from her family. “I struggled,” she said.

As a grade nine student, she returned to Kelowna. Sometimes her parents would visit, but it takes two full days of driving to travel between the two cities.

“She was always a very bubbly kid,” said Jason Mongrain. “She had a lot of personality. She had a lot of intensity on her presentation side. And she was coordinated in terms of her jumps. She was always a very good spinner too.”

From the Mongrains, Rachel has learned three triples: toe loop, Salchow and loop. Now the push will be on to teach Rachel the triple flip and Lutz. “There’s definitely a lot of work that still needs to go into those jumps…. There’s a lot of fine-tuning, drills and exercises she has to do to become automatic at it.”

Still, she’s buoyed by the memories of last season, when she won the national novice gold medal. She had been third after the short program, and for the long, she skated to Lara’s Theme from Doctor Zhivago, floating about in a white dress with white illusion sleeves and white fur about her neck. It was a triumph just getting to that event. The previous year she hadn’t even qualified for Challenge. This past season, she finished second at Challenge.

“I was thrilled going to Canadians,” she said. “I felt a little bit of pressure on myself…But by the time the long came, I was like: “I’m just going to go out and skate my best. Whatever happens, happens. It was amazing.” She was overwhelmed with the marks she got. “I just knew I gave it my all, and whether I got a medal or not, I was pleased with how I skated,” she said.

This earned her a berth at the Canada Winter Games in Prince George, B.C., where she also won a gold medal. “That was such an amazing experience,” she said. “I got to share it with a lot of Kelowna skaters. It was so much fun. Jason and my mom were the coaches for Team Yukon and I was representing Team Yukon.”

She knew it was her last skate in that white dress, and vowed she’d go and skate the way she could again, a clean program ensued. She doesn’t think she’ll ever be able to get rid of that white dress. “I have so many good memories with it,” she said.

Jason says the Canada Winter Games were a big step for Rachel, because although she had a great performance on a national stage in Kingston, the “Canada Games was a different animal.”

“There was almost more pressure on her at Canada Games because of the results she got at Canadians,” he said. “So she went into that competition as a clear favourite. She definitely wasn’t a clear favourite at Canadians. She was one of a handful of skaters that had the opportunity and ability to win, and she was a skater that laid down what she had to do to win that day.”

She’ll compete at the junior level this coming season, and aside from gaining triples, the Mongrains are helping her increase her program components. She’s strong in that area, but Jason says they want to exploit her strengths. “We have to find new ways of challenging her so she has two new programs which are very demanding,” he said.

Karen has choreographed the short, Jason the long. There will be more intricate steps, and there’s not a lot of rest time. There will be less setup time for her triples and her double Axel.

“We’re trying to achieve a more senior level of skating even though she’s moving into junior,” Jason said. It’s all a sign that good skaters can come from anywhere.

Canada’s Roman Sadovsky wins gold at ISU Junior Grand Prix

Roman Sadovsky Junior Grand Prix gold.BRATISLAVA, Slovakia – Roman Sadovsky of Vaughn, Ont. won the gold medal in men’s competition on Saturday to conclude the season-opening stop on the ISU figure skating circuit.

The 16-year-old Sadovsky totalled 203.72 points for his second career victory on the circuit.

His jump filled long program featured a quadruple Salchow which he landed successfully for the first time, at the opening. Near the end he dug deep to produce a triple-triple-double combo to cap the competition with two clean programs.

“This is an amazing experience,” said Sadovsky, visibly spent at the end of his performance. “After the quad Salchow I knew I had to calm down and not let the excitement get to me. I did a pretty good job handling that.”

Another goal the young Canadian achieved was surpassing the 200 point total.

“I want to keep getting that score higher,” he said. I left the triple toe out of the program and lost a lot of points there. Next time I want to get the toe done and get a higher score.”

Vincent Zhou of the U.S. was second at 200.85 and Denis Margaluk of Argentina third at 191.72.

In ice dancing, Audrey Croteau-Villeneuve of Montreal and Jeff Hough of Russell, Ont., were sixth and Valerie Taillefer of Montreal and Jason Chan of St-Laurent, Que., ninth.

Rachel Parsons and Michael Parsons of the U.S. won the gold.

Full results: 2015 Bratislava

Canada’s Roman Sadovsky leads after short program at ISU Junior Grand Prix opener

BRATISLAVA, Slovakia – Roman Sadovsky of Vaughan, Ont., is in first place after the men’s short program Friday at the season opening competition on the ISU Junior Grand Prix figure skating circuit.

The 16-year-old Sadovsky delivered a clean program that featured his amazing flexibility. He landed his four jumps including a triple-triple combo and produced a personal best international score of 68.49 points. Vincent Zhou of the U.S. is second at 68.07 and Alexander Samarin of Russia third at 67.87.

“I felt really comfortable on the ice,” said Sadovsky, who won the Junior Grand Prix event in the Czech Republic last season. “That allowed me to be more aggressive on my jumps and I didn’t hold back. It obviously worked out for me and I got all my levels and now I’m looking forward to the long program.”

In ice dancing after Thursday’s short dance, Audrey Croteau-Villeneuve of Montreal and Jeff Hough of Russell, Ont., are sixth and Valerie Taillefer of Montreal and Jason Chan of St-Laurent, Que., are seventh.

There is no pairs competition at this event and Canada is not entered in women’s singles. The men’s free skate and the free dance are on Saturday.

Full Results: 2015 Bratislava

Skate Canada Goes Shopping and Secures New Merchandise Partner

Ottawa, ON: After nearly a decade working together, Skate Canada announced today that it has signed Gadar Promotions as their Official Online and Event Merchandise Retailer.

Through it’s skating programs and events, Skate Canada produces a wide range of apparel, collectables, and development resources each year that were previously administered by Skate Canada. Gadar’s newly expanded role will include the design and production of licensed apparel and products as well as the inventory and distribution for Skate Canada’s online store and on-site event retail shops. Gadar will also handle national and international distribution of products, including all program materials facilitating Skate Canada member club and schools’ program execution.

“Gadar has a proven track record as a quality supplier for Skate Canada and we are excited to expand our partnership with them as we look at elevating our marks and expanding our licensed offerings,” said CEO Dan Thompson. “We greatly value Gadar’s understanding of the Skate Canada brand and values, as well as their insight in to the needs and desires of our membership and the Canadian skating community.”

“Gadar Promotions is honored to be the newly exclusive provider of all Skate Canada apparel and promotional items.” said Tony Ricciuti, President, Gadar Promotions. “Our energetic customer care team, along with our wide selection of products will certainly allow us to promote Skate Canada to the fullest. Gadar is looking forward to fulfilling the needs of Skate Canada and all its members, while exceeding the market standards for branding possibilities.”

About Gadar Promotions

Gadar Promotions is an Ottawa-based Canadian Corporation who has been consistently providing sportswear and promotional goods to customers for over 20 years, including being a proud promotional distributor for the Ottawa Senators Hockey Club, Swimming Canada and Baseball Canada.  Gadar provides customers with a multitude of ways to promote their brand, teams, coaches and events. Our knowledgable customer care team, along with a wide selection of outstanding and ingenious products allows Gadar to promote clients to the fullest. Gadar also boasts on site graphic designers as well as the largest on site decoration facility in Ottawa. In-house embroidery, screen printing, heat press, sewing and a full pick, pack and ship centre allows Gadar to offer the best service exclusively to their customers. With countless products and branding ideas available, Gadar helps clients find the products that are right for them.

Contact: Tony Ricciuti, [email protected], 613-736-8288

ISU Junior Grand Prix Bratislava marks start of 2015-2016 skating season

OTTAWA, ON: Skate Canada will send five skaters, for a total of three entries to Bratislava, Slovakia, for the first stop on the ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating. Canada will have one entry in men’s, and two entries in ice dance at the competition which will run from August 19-23, 2015. There will be no pair competition at the event.

Roman Sadovsky, 15, Vaughan, Ont., will be Canada’s sole entry in men’s. Last season he won gold at the ISU Junior Grand Prix in the Czech Republic and placed fourth in Germany. He qualified for the ISU Junior Grand Prix Final, placing fifth, and the ISU World Junior Figure Skating Championships, placing 14th. Sadovsky also finished in fourth in the senior category at the 2015 Canadian Tire National Skating Championships. He is coached by Tracey Wainman and Gregor Filipowski at the YSRA Winter Club.

Audrey Croteau-Villeneuve, 18, Montreal, Que., and Jeff Hough, 19, Russell, Ont., are one of two Canadian entries in ice dance. Last season, the representatives of the Town of Mt. Royal FSC and Minto SC placed 7th at the ISU Junior Grand Prix in Estonia, and 6th in Croatia. The duo trains at Minto SC with coaches Darryl VanLuven and Jamie Britton.

Valerie Taillefer, 16, Montreal, Que., and Jason Chan, 19, Saint-Laurent, Que., will also represent Canada in ice dance. The team from Club de Patinage des Deux-Rives and Saint-Laurent FSC placed 9th last year at their sole ISU Junior Grand Prix assignment in Slovenia. They also placed sixth in the junior category at the 2015 Canadian Tire National Skating Championships. Taillefer and Chan are coached by Élise Hamel and Shawn Winter at Sportplexe 4 Glaces Pierrefonds.

Mike Slipchuk, Skate Canada High Performance Director, will be the Canadian team leader, and physiotherapist Sylvia Ciurysek of Berwyn, Alta., will be the Canadian team medical staff on site. Karen Howard of Regina, Sask., and Ron Conacher of Toronto, Ont., will be the Canadian officials at the event.

For results and full entries please visit

CANADIAN ENTRIES AT ISU JGP #1 – Bratislava, Slovakia

Discipline Name Age Hometown Club Coach
Mens Ramon Sadovsky 16 Vaughan, Ont. YRSA Winter Club Tracey Wainman / Gregor Filipowski
Ice dance Audrey Croteau-Villeneuve / Jeff Hough 18/19 Montreal, Que. / Russell, Ont. Town of Mt. Royal FSC / Minto SC Darryl VanLuven / Jamie Britton
Ice dance Valerie Taillefer / Jason Chan 16/19 Montreal, Que./ Saint-Laurent, Que. Club de Patinage des Deux-Rives / Saint Laurent FSC Élise Hamel / Shawn Winter

Celestino ready for the World Scene

When Daniel Beland was 16 years old, he blazed a significant trail on the world scene.

Back then, in 1977, he was the first Canadian man to win a world junior championship title. There have been three others since: Dennis Coi in 1978, Andrei Rogozine in 2009, and Nam Nguyen in 2014.

In taking that event, Beland was also the first French Canadian skater to win a gold medal at an international competition. Ever. As Quebec sport has gained power over the years, so have its figure skaters.

In the years that have followed, Beland has quietly been working as a coach in Dollard-des-Ormeaux, Que., giving seminars, teaching skills, and now he has a 17-year-old student, Edrian Celestino with a sensitive touch that could, if he continues on this path, become quite goose-bump worthy. Celestino says he would love to become the Canadian junior champion this year and earn a trip to the world junior championships.

Ask a fresh-faced young guy what he likes most about skating, and he might very well answer that it is about the jump, that soaring feeling, risking it all, landing on a thin edge. What fun.

Ask Celestino the same question and his answer is: “I love edges, stroking, footwork.

“I could probably spend the entire session just doing edges,” he said. “There are so many things you can improve or enhance a little detail, to pointing your feet, the way your free leg is stretched, even your fingers, your arms. It’s endless.”

Therefore, it’s hardly surprising that Celestino’s favourite part of Skate Canada’s 2015 Development Camp in April was the session with Tracy Wilson, a former ice dancing champ who teaches the skill of the blade—right up Celestino’s alley.

“She was explaining so many things I never thought about,” he said. “Such as the way you apply pressure on your blades. And how a simple lean can make a complete difference in the way you accelerate on the ice.”

Celestino attended the 2014 camp as well, after he had finished second at the novice level to Joseph Phan – while winning the freeskate. But that experience was short-lived. Celestino was injured and could not participate, bundling out the door on the first day with his coach. Because of that, Celestino flew under the radar of high performance director Michael Slipchuk, who quickly became reacquainted with Celestino’s qualities at a Quebec summer skate, handing him his first international competition, a Junior Grand Prix in Estonia, in September of 2014.

“He brings a lot of good qualities,” Slipchuk said. “He’s a strong technical jumper, very good skater, good edges, good flow. But what really stood out for me this year was ice coverage. When he did his short program, he just filled the rink. The basic skating of the athlete is so important because as they move up, everyone is doing the same jumps.”

Celestino earned his way back to the camp this spring because he had won the bronze medal at the Canadian junior championships. “It was my first year in junior and I wasn’t expecting too much,” Celestino said. “I just wanted to have fun and gain experience. But at Challenge, that’s where I really surprised myself. I came out at the top. I thought: ‘You know, this hard work is really starting to pay off.’”

Going off to the national championship was more stressful because, as Celestino says, it’s nice to win, but much harder to maintain first place. He was nervous.

Celestino has been to the Canadian championships only twice. At his first appearance in 2014, he moved from eighth place to second with an excellent free skate.

Beland began to coach Celestino six years ago and he noticed right away that the tiny youngster had great knees. No big surprise that he used to be an ice dancer, paired up with Vanessa Bui.  He had good jumping action, too, and good spins. “He had the wow factor,” Beland said.

Currently, Celestino has all of his triples but the Axel. In April, he got a new pair of boots, and then began to work on the Axel, with the help of the “fishing pole,” or harness. Like Denis Ten, Celestino is very sensitive about his feet. He needs to feel comfortable in his boots. ”If there is a little bit of discomfort, I’ll take them off and adjust my socks,” he said.

Both of Celestino’s parents were born in the Philippines, moved to Canada and met while studying. In the beginning, Celestino’s father could speak no English. He now has a degree in aerospace engineering. His father used to play in the Filipino basketball league. His mother was always serious about school. Celestino’s 9-year-old brother, Earl Jesse Celestino, is also starting to skate.

“He has a great family,” Beland said. “You would like to have a family like this all the time. We talk about the year all together and we decide what to do.”

Last season, Celestino worked with top choreographer David Wilson. It seems as if he only skates to beautiful music, not surprisingly. His short program was to Rachmaninoff’s piano concerto No. 2 in C minor.

His free skate during the 2013-2014 season was Puccini’s “Nessum Dorma” – one of the best-known tenor arias in opera. Imagine, skating to this powerful song at age 15! Last season, however, when vocals were allowed, Celestino amped up his game: he skated to a version sung by Liciano Pavarotti, who had elevated the aria to pop status during his career.

He’s looking to have his short program choreographed for the coming season by Shae-Lynn Bourne. Stay tuned for something exquisite.