OTTAWA – Ice dancers Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier were one of two victors to successfully defend their crowns on Saturday at the 2022 Canadian Tire National Figure Skating Championships.
The competition also helped finalize the Canadian skaters for next month’s Winter Games in Beijing. This week’s event was held without fans at TD Place due to the current COVID-19 restrictions in Ontario.
Gilles and Poirier, from Toronto, took the gold with 219.24 points followed by Laurence Fournier-Beaudry and Nikolaj Sorensen of Montreal in second at 206.65 and Marjorie Lajoie of Boucherville, Que., and Zachary Lagha of St-Hubert, Que., third at 192.67.
Three spots are available in ice dancing for Canada at the Olympics after two top-10’s at last year’s worlds. Two spots were up for grabs in pairs and men’s and one for the women.
‘’We were a little nervous and we have made so many changes since the Grand Prix series, so this was us testing the waters a little bit,’’ said Gilles. ‘’Nothing is on auto pilot yet but I’m glad we had the opportunity to put that program out there and build upon it.’’
It was a third straight Canadian pairs title for Kirsten Moore-Towers of St. Catharines, Ont., and Michael Marinaro of Sarnia, Ont., totalling 212.54. Evelyn Walsh of London, Ont., and Trennt Michaud of Trenton, Ont., were second at 186.52 and and Deanna Stellato-Dudek and Maxime Deschamps of Vaudreuil-Dorion, Que., were third at 178.60.
‘’It wasn’t perfect but definitely leaps and bounds ahead of what we’ve done this season,’’ said Moore-Towers. ‘’Our goal was to go to Beijing as Canadian champions.’’
Vanessa James and Eric Radford, fourth after Friday’s short program, withdrew.
Keegan Messing took top spot in men’s competition with 258.03 points. Roman Sadovsky of Vaughan, Ont., followed at 247.60 moving from fourth after the short program. Wesley Chiu of Richmond, B.C., 16, was third at 150.57.
‘’I went out there and did my job,’’ said Messing. ‘’The amount of butterflies I had before turned into positive vibes after. I’m happy with how it all worked out.’’
In women’s competition, Madeline Schizas of Oakville, Ont., won a decisive gold medal with a personal best 198.24 points for her first national crown. Veronik Mallet of Montreal was second at 170.65 and two-time Olympian Gabrielle Daleman of Newmarket, Ont., was third at 167.50.
‘’I wanted to break the 200-point mark, which I got close to, but not quite,’’ said Schizas, who skated her program to Puccini’s Madam Butterfly. ‘’It was a little bit of a fight. I was happy with my skate and happy with my placement, but I made some uncommon mistakes. I skated two programs I am pretty happy with and that was my biggest goal.’’
Skate Canada will nominate its team for Beijing to the Canadian Olympic Committee on Sunday at approximately 12:15 p.m. (ET) It can be streamed live at: https://skatecanada.ca/2022-canadian-tire-national-skating-championships/