Calgary, AB (January 13, 2024) – The final day of competition at the 2024 Canadian National Skating Championships taking place at the WinSport Arena in Calgary, Alta., saw two new senior champions crowned, defending champions retain their title, and former champions reclaim their title.
Canada has a new senior women’s national champion after Kaiya Ruiter of Calgary, Alta., delighted her hometown family and friends with a new personal best free skate and the best free skate of the day to win gold with an overall score of 180.86. Ruiter dethroned Madeline Schizas of Oakville, Ont., who was looking for her third-straight national title, but who had a tough skate today and finished the free program ranked third. Schizas had to settle for the silver medal (172.90), while Hetty Shi of Mississauga, Ont., last year’s junior national champion, claimed the bronze medal (162.51).
“That was one of the most special performances I’ve ever had in my life, and to be able to share that with my family and friends and everyone I love, is just surreal,” said Ruiter who will be representing Canada at the Youth Olympic Games in Korea at the end of the month. “I just wanted to enjoy the moment. I love this program so much and I just wanted to share that with the audience.”
Former champions reclaimed their senior national titles in the ice dance competition. Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier of Toronto, Ont., who missed last year’s championships while Gilles recovered from surgery, won their third senior Canadian title with a new personal best free skate (136.17) and a new personal best overall score of 222.95.
“Paul and I really skated like champions today. We stepped out onto the ice and remembered who we were, and why we’re here, and used this as a stepping stone for worlds. We want to be on the top of that podium, so we have to start acting like those champions and I think we really did that today,” said Gilles.
Marie-Jade Lauriault and Romain Le Gac of Ste-Anne-des-Plaines, Que., claimed the silver medal, also with a new personal best free skate (122.50) and personal best overall score (200.50), as did the bronze medallists – Alicia Fabbri of Terrebonne, Que., and Paul Ayer of Brossard, Que., whose free skate score (117.86) and overall score (195.61) were both personal bests as well.
The only skaters to defend their senior national title at these Championships were Deanna Stellato-Dudek of Chicago, USA and Maxime Deschamps of Vaudreuil-Dorion, Que., who won gold in the pair competition, and their second-straight national title with an overall score of 205.79. Lia Pereira of Milton, Ont., and Trennt Michaud of Brantford, Ont., took the silver medal (193.14), while Kelly Ann Laurin of St-Jérôme, Que., and Loucas Éthier of St-Alphonse, Que., captured bronze with a huge new personal best free skate (125.19) and overall score (187.40).
“We’re happy that we were able to come back from that bad performance yesterday and show the work that we’ve been doing on our throws. I was not going to back down from those after what happened yesterday,” said Stellato-Dudek who had an uncharacteristic fall on a throw in yesterday’s short program. “We are our own biggest competitors. All we have to do is our own job and I know what the outcome is going to be,” she added.
There was a new national champion in the men’s competition following the retirement of last year’s champion Keegan Messing – last year’s bronze medallist Wesley Chiu of Vancouver, B.C. put in another solid program to finally claim gold with a total of 232.15, almost 7 points ahead of runner up Aleksa Rakic of Burnaby, B.C. Anthony Paradis of Boisbriand, Que., almost missed the podium after his lace broke mid-program, but came back with renewed energy to win the bronze with a total score of 209.98, only a fraction of a point ahead of Conrad Orzel.
“Having Canadian Champion on my back, I can skate with more pride now, but it also comes with responsibility. Overall, I think it’s really motivating to go back and train hard,” said Chiu.
The 2024 Canadian National Skating Championships will wrap up Sunday with the exhibition gala.