OTTAWA – Ice dancers Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier, pairs Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro as well as, Madeline Schizas and Keegan Messing are first in their respective events after Friday’s short programs at the 2022 Canadian Tire National Figure Skating Championships. This week’s event is being held without fans at TD Place due to the current COVID-19 restrictions in Ontario.
In ice dancing, Gilles and Poirier, from Toronto, continued a solid season so far with a season’s best 86.98 points in the rhythm dance. Laurence Fournier-Beaudry and Nikolaj Sorensen of Montreal are second at 81.04 and Marjorie Lajoie of Boucherville, Que., and Zachary Lagha of St-Hubert, Que., are third at 76.67.
Three spots are available in ice dancing for Canada at the Olympics after two top-10’s at last year’s worlds. Two spots are up for grabs in pairs and men’s and one for the women.
‘’We’re treating this competition as a training opportunity for the Olympic Games,’’ said Poirier, third with Gilles at the last season’s world championships. ‘’That’s where we want to be peaking and bringing our best performances.’’
Keegan Messing stands first in the men’s event after the short program with 84.38. Sixteen-year-old Wesley Chiu of Richmond, B.C., is second at 81.47 and Joseph Phan of Laval, Que., is third at 78.14.
‘’My mistake on the (triple) Axel was a slight mental let up,’’ said Kessing, vying for a second career Olympic Games berth. ‘’But at the last Olympic trials I made a mistake and fought for every point, and I did the same today.’’
Kirsten Moore-Towers of St. Catharines, Ont., and Michael Marinaro of Sarnia, Ont., are on track for a third consecutive national crown standing first in pairs after the short program with 73.02 points. Evelyn Walsh of London, Ont., and Trennt Michaud of Trenton, Ont., are second at 66.88 and Deanna Stellato-Dudek and Maxime Deschamps are third at 63.54.
‘’We’ve had a very rough first half of the competition season so we’re thrilled to have something a little bit closer to what we are capable of,’’ said Moore-Towers. ‘’And we get a little confidence for the rest of the season, and we really needed that.’’
First year partners Vanessa James and Eric Radford are fourth at 63.33.
In the women’s short program, Madeline Schizas of Oakville, Ont., was flawless in her skate to produce a commanding lead with a personal best 72.05 points. Veronik Mallet of Montreal is second at 59.35 and two-time Olympian Gabrielle Daleman of Newmarket, Ont., is third at 58.48.
‘’I knew I needed a really good short program to set myself up for the free skate,’’ said the 18-year-old Schizas, 13th in her world championship debut last season which clinched the sole Olympic spot available for Canadian women.
‘’This is a new experience for me, I was novice in the last Olympic year, so I really have to focus on myself here.’’
All four free skates are on Saturday.