Oakville, ON (February 4, 2024) – Lia Cho of Calgary, Alta., set a new Canadian record at the 2023-2024 Skate Canada Challenge – Pre-Novice/Novice competition that took place this weekend at the Sixteen Mile Sports Complex in Oakville, Ont., enroute to winning gold in the novice women’s category – just a year after winning the pre-novice category.
“Today felt amazing. It wasn’t the best I could, but I’m so happy to be here and it’s such an honour. I said to myself that it’s not about winning, or getting medals, it’s about how happy I am to be here, and showing the judges how happy I am to skate,” said Cho who scored an amazing 54.70 for her short program on Saturday but had a slightly tougher time in the free skate where she scored a 99.11 – the third-highest score of the day. Her total score of 153.81 bested the previous Canadian record of 152.50 set by Amy Shao Ning Yang at the Canadian Championships in 2020.
The women’s novice podium was a carbon copy of the pre-novice podium at last year’s event with Sandrine Blais of Quebec finishing second with a total score of 145.48, and Ksenia Krouzkevitch of Ontario finishing third with a total score of 144.46.
The men’s novice podium also looked remarkably similar to last year’s pre-novice podium with Rui Qin of Mississauga, Ont., winning gold (132.82), and Travis Trang of Edmonton, Alta. – last year’s silver medallist at pre-novice, taking bronze this year in novice (110.71). Parker Heiderich of Calgary, Alta., took the novice silver medal (114.49) – a healthy improvement from his 16th-place finish at the novice level last year.
Pre-novice pair skaters from last year that moved up to novice this year also performed well with Siyul Back and Gavin Mahoney from Innisfail, Ont., moving up from bronze last year to silver this year (104.47). Lily Evans of Pouch Cove, Nfld., and Mark Butt of Bloomfield, Nfld., finished just off the podium in fourth as pre-novices last year, and improved to take bronze in novice this weekend (91.86). Last year’s pre-novice silver medallist – Keith Lau, won gold this year in novice with new partner Remie Muramoto (108.76) – both skaters train in Mississauga, Ont.
“Coming into this competition was a little bit stressful, but once things were going, things felt better and we felt more confident in the skate,” said Lau.
In the novice ice dance competition, some new partnerships saw successful results with Laurence Brière of Carignan, Que., and Julien Lévesque of Boucherville, Que., winning gold after dominating the competition to finish with a total score of 110.24. Tasha Lai and Mickey Becker-Pos of Vancouver, B.C., who won gold last year at the pre-novice level, captured silver (105.99), and new duo Alyson Lacombe of St-Césaire, Que., and Morgan Laliberté-Laurent of Boucherville, Que., took bronze (104.85).
Tobias Liu of Markham, Ont., was overjoyed to win the men’s pre-novice competition with a total score of 110.39 after finishing 15th last year. Alexander Ge of B.C. and Umberto Daher of Alberta had a close battle for second with Ge emerging victorious to take silver with a total score of 103.33, to Daher’s 103.31.
“I’m really happy and feel really accomplished. I’m proud of saving my triple toe,” said Liu following the competition.
The pre-novice women’s title was won by Vienna Vidinovski of Markham, Ont., with a total score of 101.95 with Maélia Ruel of Quebec not far behind taking silver with a total score of 101.30. Julianne Hébert of Quebec improved mightily from her 22nd-place result from last year to take the bronze with a total score of 100.15.
“This feels really good – almost unreal,” said Vidinovski. “I was thinking I’d come top-5, or top-10 – I really wasn’t expecting gold. I’m really proud of landing my triple toe in my free program.”
Jaslynn Wong and Nico Conforti from Richmond, B.C., won gold in the pre-novice pair competition after a huge free skate that moved them from fifth place after the short program to first and a total score of 83.05. Ava Cheung and Stephen Lee, also from B.C., moved up from 16th last year to take silver this year with a total score of 82.23, and Dana Yun and Kody Ng of Alberta captured bronze with a total score of 72.28.
The pre-novice ice dance competition was won by Annabelle Théroux and Rafael Gossard of Quebec with a total score of 93.17. Florence Beausoleil and Rémi Thibault, also of Quebec, took the silver with a total score of 90.10, and Kayleigh Chao and Jonathan Ma of Ontario improved from their 13th-place result last year, to take the bronze with a total score of 84.89.
The top-18 skaters in the novice division have now qualified for the 2024 Novice Canadian Championships taking place at the Waterloo Memorial Recreation Complex in Waterloo, Ont., from February 21-24, 2024.
For full results please click here.