Gangwon, South Korea (January 29, 2024) – Annika Behnke and Kole Sauve made Canadian figure skating history on Monday at the 2024 Youth Olympic Games in Gangwon, South Korea as they won Canada’s first-ever gold medal, and first-ever individual event medal at a Youth Olympic Games.
Behnke from Peace River, Alta., and Sauve of Grand Prairie, Alta., led throughout the competition, scoring a 39.09 for their short program on Saturday where despite falling on the element, they were the only team to attempt a throw triple loop.
Behnke had a small stumble at the very beginning of their free skate on Monday, but the pair recovered swiftly and performed flawlessly from then on to dominate the competition and score a 74.54 giving them a total score of 113.63. This was well ahead of the silver-medal winning team from the USA – Cayla Smith and Jared McPike (98.00), and the bronze medal team from Spain – Caroline Shan Campillo and Pau Vilella (94.03).
“It feels amazing, I’m really happy. I want to thank all my coaches who have helped me get this far,” said Behnke who together with Sauve were competing in front of their largest crowd ever at the Gangneung Ice Arena – scene of so much success for Canada at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games.
When asked how they recovered after their stumble today, Sauve added: “We just took it one element at a time. After that happened and we got the twist done, we forgot about it. It’s a lot easier to have another person there with you, so they can bring you back up after a mistake.”
In the men’s singles competition, David Li from Richmond, B.C., skated a personal best free skate (118.57) to move up from 11th after the short program to finish 10th overall with a total score of 175.73.
“I think the free program, some of the jumps were a little bit shaky, but I’m happy to pull it out and I’m still working on my mental ability to correct things in the program,” said Li who was the junior men’s silver medallist at the 2024 Canadian National Skating Championships last month in Calgary.
Hyungyeom Kim from Korea thrilled his home country crowd to win the gold (216.73) while Adam Hagara from Slovakia took the silver (216.23), and Yanhao Li from New Zealand the bronze (208.84).
The ice dance and women’s singles competitions will wrap up on Tuesday with their free skates, and the team competition will conclude the figure skating competition at the Youth Olympic Games on Thursday.
For full results please click here.