Moore-Towers, Marinaro find perspective, hope during trying times

As the most uncertain of skating seasons dawns over the horizon, Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro have found a silver lining in these challenging times.

Now back on the ice tuning up for a season that has more questions than answers due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the two-time Canadian pair champions are staying optimistic and looking forward to picking up where they left off when the 2019-20 season was abruptly halted in March.

“We’ve been back on the ice for a while now, and we’re getting ready as best we can,” says Moore-Towers from their training base in Oakville, Ont.

“We’ve always known what our goals are, and we know we are capable of achieving them. The time away really gives you a chance to think and evaluate how you can improve. It’s easy to remember why we’re here and why we are doing this.”

“Right now, we are not exactly sure which events we are training for, but eventually that opportunity is going to come, and we want to be ready for it,” adds Marinaro.

Coming off a 2019-20 season in which they captured their second straight national title and added a pair of silver medals on the ISU Grand Prix circuit, the tandem is preparing for a new season as they normally would.

Right now, uncertainty is the new normal.

“Regardless of the state everything is in, we have to believe we will compete somewhere,” says Moore-Towers.

“That is the mindset we take into training each day, so when that happens, we will be prepared. We only have a couple of years left in our career, so we want to spend our time doing what we enjoy doing.”

“With all the uncertainty, we are just looking at taking a couple of steps forward each day,” adds Marinaro. “We’re just trying to grow together and improve. This time away just reinforced that we have to enjoy the process here and reconfirms that we love what we do.”

Even during these trying times for our world, Moore-Towers and Marinaro prefer to look at the glass as half-full.

After all, sometimes perspective, as painful as it may be, is a gift.

It has been almost seven months, just after the quarantine started in March, since Marinaro put in a FaceTime call to his grandmother, Charlotte Jones, an avid skating fan and one of his biggest supporters. On the call, Marinaro noticed his grandmother was having some difficulty breathing, but he didn’t give it more than a passing thought.

It would be his last conversation with her.

The following day, Charlotte Jones was taken to hospital and, one day later, on March 31st, she passed away from complications of COVID-19.

Just like that, she was gone.

“It was unexpected, and a huge loss for our family,” says Marinaro. “It really did put things in perspective. Sports took a back seat. This whole situation over the past few months is so much bigger than sport.”

“It was a loss for Mike, and I agree, it really did put everything in perspective,” adds Moore-Towers. “You realize what is truly important in life.”

“It was a low time not only for Mike, but for a lot of people, but it’s been nice to see people sharing their gifts and talents around the world. I saw a lot of positivity with people coming together in a way I hadn’t seen before.”

When the quarantine was first implemented, Moore-Towers and Marinaro, like many others, figured the hiatus would be short-term, perhaps only a few weeks. As time went on, both knew they had to find things to do with their surplus of spare time.

“I did a lot of teaching,” says Moore-Towers, adding she was grateful that Skate Oakville conduced virtual sessions to keep skaters active, both mentally and physically. “I was joking I was excited for quarantine to end, so I could be less busy. It gave me the gift of understanding where my passions lie and what I’m good at.”

Marinaro took advantage of the time off to get outdoors and spend some time with Mother Nature.

“After being locked up in an arena for the past 25 years, I had a chance to get outside during the quarantine and do a lot of camping and outdoor activities that I don’t normally get an opportunity to do,” he says.

Marinaro also took up Frisbee golf.

“I’m still not very good yet, but I’m trying to get better,” he adds with a laugh.

Along with their newfound perspective comes the reality that they are likely heading into the twilight of their competitive careers. Moore-Towers and Marinaro feel there is still some unfinished business to take care of and they don’t want the moment to pass them by.

And in these dark times, they’ve found a beacon of light.

“We’ve always had a clear, concise idea of who we are as athletes and as a team,” says Moore-Towers. “When that is stripped away, you start to think of these other things that will determine who you are as an athlete to complement who you are as a human being.

“We’ve been working on this our whole lives. But suddenly, everything you’ve been working for is unclear. This time has given both of us the opportunity to be well-rounded individuals and understand what we want to do when this is all over.”

But for now, that can wait.

Skate Canada Announces 2020-21 National Team

OTTAWA, ON: Skate Canada is pleased to announce the 2020-21 National Team. The team is consisted of 18 members, which includes three men, three women, two pair teams and four ice dance teams.

To be named to the National Team, a skater must finish in the top three in senior men, women, pair and ice dance disciplines at the 2020 Canadian Tire National Skating Championships and/or a ranking of top 24 in the ISU World Standings, and must be competing in the 2020-21 season. Athletes can be added at the discretion of Skate Canada based on new partnerships of current and former national team members.

Their appointment to the national team is effective from September 1, 2020 through to June 30, 2021.

Skate Canada also announced the three teams that will make up the Skate Canada Synchronized Skating National Team. The Synchronized National Team comprises those teams finishing in the top three in senior discipline at the 2020 Skate Canada Synchronized Skating Championships.

MEN
Roman Sadovsky, 21, Vaughn, Ont.
Nam Nguyen, 22, Ajax, Ont.
Keegan Messing, 28, Sherwood Park, Alta.

WOMEN
Emily Bausback, 18, Vancouver, BC
Alison Schumacher, 17, Tecumseh, Ont.
Madeline Schizas, 16, Oakville, Ont.

PAIR
Kirsten Moore-Towers, 28, St. Catharines, Ont. & Michael Marinaro, 28, Sarnia, Ont.
Evelyn Walsh, 19, London, Ont. & Trennt Michaud, 24, Trenton, Ont.

ICE DANCE
Piper Gilles, 28, Toronto, Ont. & Paul Poirier, 28, Unionville, Ont.
Marjorie Lajoie, 19, Boucherville, Que. & Zachary Lagha, 21, Saint-Hubert, Que.
Carolane Soucisse, 25, Chateauguay, Que. & Shane Firus, 26, North Vancouver, B.C.
Laurence Fournier Beaudry, 28, Montreal, Que. & Nikolaj Sorensen, 31, Montreal, Que.

SYNCHRONIZED SKATING
Les Suprêmes, of CPA Saint- Léonard
NEXXICE, of the Burlington Skating Centre
Nova, of CPS NOVA

Bill Boland remembered as dedicated Skate Canada volunteer who helped shape the Skate Canada we know today

More than a decade later, you realize the smile never really left Bill Boland’s face.

Flash back to the summer of 2010, and Boland, a driving force behind the bid to bring the 2013 ISU World Figure Skating Championships to his adopted hometown of London, Ont., is elated, almost euphoric, after the southwestern Ontario city is awarded figure skating’s crown jewel event.

Over a volunteer career that spanned four decades, it is certainly one of his proudest moments.

Boland, who passed away August 26th after a courageous battle with cancer, is being remembered as a former Chair of the Western Ontario Section, Skate Canada Board Member and Finance Chair, Honorary Member of Skate Canada, and a tireless figure skating volunteer who spent much of his life giving back to the sport.

Each time those 2013 world championships were brought up in conversation, Boland’s face would beam with pride. The affable, charismatic insurance executive had a personal connection to London 2013 and would go on to chair the event that was an undeniable success for Skate Canada and the city.

“While he led his team to establish Worlds in London as a pinnacle event still talked about today, Bill epitomised the spirit and will of a true volunteer – passion, commitment, longevity, and selfless engagement. He helped shape the Skate Canada we know today”, stated Skate Canada President Leanna Caron.

“Bill carried the respect of the volunteer community and a sound business acumen to our organization. It is because of people like him, who give so much to our sport without expecting anything in return, that Skate Canada is one of the pre-eminent figure skating organizations in the world. He will be missed by all of us in the Skate Canada family.”

Boland’s work in bringing the 2013 world championships to London led him to being honoured as London’s 2014 sports person of the year award. He was also the recipient of the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Citizenship Award in March 2013, just before London hosted the world championships.  He also received an Ontario Sports Council Award for lifetime commitment to the sport.

He is survived by Maureen, his wife of 50 years, daughters Tammy and Traci Lynn and granddaughter Hailey.

Boland joined the London Skating Club’s Board of Directors 40 years ago, moved on to serve as Western Ontario Section Chair and then sat for many years on Skate Canada’s board of directors and many of its committees.  In his quiet manner, his sense of fairness, financial skill and business acumen enhanced all deliberations assisting these bodies to successfully further the sport of figure skating.

As well, through his encouragement, he helped pave the way  for top figure skaters, including six-time Canadian champion Jennifer Robinson and world and Olympic ice dance champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir.

In January, Boland attended the Canadian Tire National Skating Championships in Mississauga, where he saw Robinson inducted into the Skate Canada Hall of Fame.  Boland, an avid sports fan, was also a long-time supporter of the Ontario Hockey League’s London Knights.

He was always there with a handshake, a smile and, more often than not, a story.

“Bill gave so much to our sport and always did what was best for Skate Canada and our athletes,” says Skate Canada High Performance Director Mike Slipchuk.

President Leanna Caron adds: “Bill shaped an environment for youth, for champions, for people”.

 

Pride Profile: “How far we’ve come and how far we’ve yet to go”

June is Pride Month and an opportunity to highlight and celebrate the LGBTQI2S+ community. Skate Canada has done and is continuing to do substantive work in relation to LGBTQI2S+ inclusion but we know there remains critical inclusion work to be done moving forward in relation to race, ethnicity, Indigeneity, religion, class, size, and ability, and their intersections.

To support an inclusive environment this Pride Month we are sharing personal stories from our skating community. Below is the story of HM.

I started out in skating after watching the 1988 Olympics and insisting to my mother that I wanted to ‘fancy skate’. Being the supportive and encouraging parents they are, my parents put me in recreational lessons then into CanSkate, where I quickly fell in love with our sport.

It was encouraged at our club to hire a private coach around the Novice I level of CanSkate, in the hopes of building a strong relationship with your private coach prior to moving up to Junior.  I chose a fun loving yet serious man who pushed me hard at a young age and insisted on my best effort at all times.  I loved him dearly and was hopelessly attached by the end of the first lesson.

Sadly, this coach-skater relationship was ended before even a full year had passed. Despite many parents (including my own) and fellow coaches’ objections, his contract of many years was not renewed for the following year when the club board of directors somehow became aware of his sexuality.  Being so young at the time, this was not shared with me, and it was years before anyone told me the truth. To this day I’m sure I’m missing some of the story, and I haven’t been able to track him down since. I do remember saying goodbye – I was in hysterics and my mom had to carry me to the car.  She says he left crying, too.

I almost quit skating after that first summer. I remember my parents sitting me down to try and help me choose a new coach, to try and convince me to keep skating. I remember looking at the list of coaches, recognizing them all and being sure of none. I knew I wanted a coach who was firmer with their skaters, but I also knew I wanted a coach who would care about me at least half as much as my first coach had. In all honesty, I didn’t want a new coach, I wanted MY coach. In the end, we reached a compromise – I would skate until Christmas with my new coaches, and if I still didn’t want to skate anymore, I could quit then.

My new coaches were a husband and wife team.  I chose them simply because they seemed strict; they were very no-nonsense and their skaters worked hard.  On paper, their roles were very defined. He was my dance coach, with the odd free skate lesson thrown in here and there.  She taught me figures and later skills, alongside the majority of all my free skate. The two of them became my second set of parents.  Throughout many of my formative years, more waking hours were spent with them than with my parents.  I was just as excited to tell them about my life as I was my parents and strove for as much, if not more, for their approval, praise and affection.  I remember having a ‘3 things’ rule put in place in elementary school – I could tell them 3 things a day before having to focus on the lesson. I would tell them about school, my friends, my family, my life. I wanted to tell them everything.  I loved them deeply and owe them a huge debt – without their efforts to win me over that first fall, I would have left skating, likely forever, and my life would have taken an entirely different course. We spent years together, from my first Preliminary tests through to double Gold. I passed my final Gold dances on my coach’s 55 birthday, and still have a collection of photos and a love of champagne from that day.  I spent my teenaged summers at the arena for 8+ hour days, biking an hour to and from the arena in order to be able to spend as much time possible there with them skating, training and helping anywhere they would let me. I was given opportunities, responsibilities and a deep sense of belonging and acceptance that made the arena the place in the world I felt I fit best without knowing why I already felt “different”. I was blessed to have had a great relationship with them that built a large part of who I am today, as both a coach and a person.

I was in eleventh grade before I came out to myself and began coming out to others. After witnessing other friends experience rejection from their adult mentors, teachers and coaches I wasn’t sure I could survive it if it happened to me and couldn’t risk it with mine. This comes across as dramatic, but in truth was probably pretty spot on. I made the decision to change coaches to a younger, less experienced coach in order to not feel any possible negative (or perceived negative) reaction as acutely.  To avoid any disappointment in myself as a person from people whose respect I couldn’t stand to lose.  In effect, and to my own skating’s detriment, at the end of my personal skating career, I abandoned them before they could me.  To be clear, I didn’t have an inkling of how they’d react. I just couldn’t muster up the courage to risk them finding out. I remember my female coach hiding her tears and thinking that at least she was disappointed in me for something I chose rather than something I couldn’t.  I remember the last hug from both of them and running out of the arena sobbing hysterically – I knew I’d made a huge mistake but I wasn’t willing to rethink my decision because it was still easier than the alternative that might never and probably wouldn’t have happened anyway. Both of them left our club very suddenly immediately afterwards, moving full time to the other club they taught at. They had been staying until I graduated and moved on; I was their ‘last’ at our club. When I left them, they left, too.

I never made amends with either of them.  A few years later I would run into them regularly at competitions with my own skaters throughout our section.  While always cordial and polite, we never even came close to reconciling.  I respect and love them both even still and I think the hurt I caused them was far worse than any negative reaction I could have ever had to live through, especially since to this day neither of them has any idea of the true reasons I chose to spend my final year of skating with someone else. I hope if either of them sees this almost 20 years later, they can forgive me for any hurt I caused them and know how valued, important and loved they were and are.

I now coach across the country from where I grew up, at a small club with young competitive athletes who have very big dreams. I am out in my everyday life and the majority of the families I work with are aware of my sexuality and my partner is welcomed at events such as award ceremonies and as a volunteer when appropriate. Though my technique has changed over the years, I find my coaching style is extremely similar to that of my past coaches. I often wonder how they would have reacted had they known the truth.

Pride month brings forward how far we’ve come and how far we’ve yet to go.  Personally, I feel the olive branches extended during this month often fall short as the seasons change but with new initiatives, follow through and education, we can make sure that our athletes, coaches, members and volunteers are happy, supported and secure in their places within our organization.

Happy Pride, Skate Canada.

Skate Canada thanks to HM for sharing their story and bringing awareness to the skating community. If you are a member of the LGBTQI2S+ skating community and are interested in sharing your personal story please send us an email at [email protected].

Eight Ways to Make Skating More Inclusive to the LGBTQI2S Community

June is Pride Month and an opportunity to highlight and celebrate the LGBTQI2S community. Skate Canada has done and is continuing to do substantive work in relation to LGBTQI2S inclusion but we know there remains critical inclusion work to be done moving forward in relation to race, ethnicity, Indigeneity, religion, class, size, and ability, and their intersections.

As part of that work, Skate Canada would like to share the following ways to make skating more inclusive to the LGBTQI2S community. We would like to thank Dr. William Bridel for putting this information together for us and for the continued work he has done to educate and provide guidance as we strive to achieve an inclusive environment for all.

  1. Listen to LGBTQI2S members and persons in your community with empathy, respect, and compassion. Their stories are valid and important sources of information and knowledge!
  2. Educate yourself, educate others. There are many excellent resources available that provide general and sport-specific information on LGBTQI2S inclusion that are available through Skate Canada’s website at https://skatecanada.ca/safe-sport/. As one specific example, encourage coaches and volunteers to participate in a Canadian Women & Sport Leading the Way webinar or book a workshop for your club, region, or Section (https://womenandsport.ca/).
  3. Think critically about your own ideas about gender, gender identity, and gender expression: are some of your taken-for-granted ideas about femininity and masculinity impacting people in your life? For example, as an official, are you familiar with the revised costume rules in the sport? How will you be supportive of choices that skaters, coaches, and/or their parents/guardians make?
  4. Don’t make assumptions about people’s identities or people’s relationships and never “out” anyone; someone’s story about their gender identity or sexuality is their own to share, unless they have given you explicit permission to speak about them to others.
  5. Commit to using inclusive language and images. For example, honour people’s chosen pronouns and names. When creating documents use, for example, “they” instead of “he/she” and “skaters” instead of gender-specific terms. You can use words such as “folks” or “everyone” in place of “Ladies and Gentlemen” and groups should never be addressed as “guys”. If you need to ask for information about athletes’ parents, use the term Parent/Guardian and provide space for two or more names to be listed; avoid using the terms mother and father as families come in all shapes and sizes!
  6. Display LGBTQI2S symbols such as the Canadian Women & Sport “I Support Positive Space in Sport” poster (https://womenandsport.ca/) or Skate Canada Pride stickers on a club bulletin board, a website, the window of a skating office or coach’s room, or on your person (e.g., coffee mug, water bottle, skate bag). Why not participate in local Pride parades as a club or Section? Representation matters!
  7. Address dressing room/locker room requests and questions. Best practice guidelines are available for sport from the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport (www.cces.ca). Skating-specific recommendations are in development and will be made available on Skate Canada’s website when finalized.
  8. Collaborate with other organizations in your community to offer learning opportunities to your members (e.g., PFLAG, Pride organizations, anti-bullying organizations, schools, the Canadian Olympic Committee’s #OneTeam Program, You Can Play, etc.)

In general, work to create inclusive space before you know you need to. Be willing to be brave: challenge others when they say something LGBTQphobic or you read it on social media. Seek to create spaces that are safe. Everyone benefits when sport is welcoming, inclusive, and people are allowed to be themselves in their pursuit of personal excellence.

Prepared for Skate Canada by Dr. William Bridel (Faculty of Kinesiology, University of Calgary)

In difficult times, an opportunity to say thank you

In these uncertain times for our organization, our communities and our world, we want to assure our Skate Canada family that we are all in this together.

Thank you for taking the necessary precautions and doing what you can to limit the spread of COVID-19. By working together and going the extra mile, as an organization and as neighbours, we can make a difference.

It’s hard to believe a few short weeks ago we were preparing to welcome the world to Montreal for the ISU World Figure Skating Championships® 2020.

To the athletes, coaches, officials, staff, volunteers and fans from all over the world, we are grateful for all your hard work and dedication in the three years of planning leading up to the world championships, one we know would have been a tremendous success. When our lives return to normal and the doors once again open in rinks from coast-to-coast-to-coast, we will look back on Montreal 2020 as the greatest skating event that never happened.

Our world has changed since then. Right now, we are facing a reality that not only transcends sports, but our everyday lives. Like the rest of the world, we are adjusting and adapting to suit the situation. We have risen to the challenge with flexibility, resilience and compassion, and will continue to do so for as long as we must.

In difficult times comes an opportunity to be there for each other, help each other and care for each other.

It is also a time reflect and be grateful.

To the world’s best skaters, thank you for inspiring us by showing that in order to grow stronger, we must, at one time, conquer adversity.

To all sections, clubs, skating schools, coaches and officials at every level, thousands of Skate Canada volunteers, office staff and fans from all over the world, thank you for your dedication to our sport, our athletes and our organization.

Our thoughts are with all those affected in communities not only in Canada, but around the world. We are grateful for the healthcare workers, first responders and others on the front line. It is truly in times like these in which heroes are born.

This is an unprecedented time for all of us. There is no playbook to refer to. We need to follow the lead of our government officials and health care authorities and do our part to overcome this challenging time.

Even at this difficult hour, we must remember this is temporary. Our lives and our organization will return to normal. We will learn from this and be stronger for it. Until then, be safe and be there for each other.

From all of us at Skate Canada, stay healthy and #StayHome.

Brighter days are ahead. And we will get through this together.

Worlds Rewind: London 2013

With the ISU World Figure Skating Championships® 2020 in Montreal, Quebec just around the corner, we continue to look back at previous world championships staged in Canada. The 10-part series concludes with the 2013 world championships in London, Ont.

It was perhaps the most dominant era in the history of Canadian figure skating.

As the 2013 ISU World Figure Skating Championships arrived in London, Ont., expectations were high for the host nation as skating’s flagship event came to Canada for the first time since Calgary in 2006.

In what turned out to be a drama-filled men’s free program, Patrick Chan claimed his third consecutive world title – but it did not come easy. Chan struggled in his free program while the late Denis Ten of Kazakhstan was simply sensational, beating his season’s best score by nearly 50 points.

As Ten finished his program, he crouched down and kissed the ice at Budweiser Gardens.

Despite his struggles, Chan scored 266.78 points overall, less than 1.3 points ahead of Ten. By winning silver, Ten became the first skater from Kazakhstan to win a medal at the world championships. Spain’s Javier Fernandez took the bronze medal.

The two best ice dance teams in the world once again went head to head in London, with Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, the 2010 Olympic gold medallists and reigning world champions, trying to hold off Meryl Davis and Charlie White of the U.S.

The Americans defeated their archrivals to win back the world crown they had lost to the Canadians the previous year. Davis and White finished with a 189.56 total while Virtue and Moir scored 185.04.

Russians Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov dominated the pairs competition, winning gold by 20 points and setting world records in the free program (149.87) and total score (225.71).

Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy of Germany won silver, finishing just one point ahead of Canadians Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford, the bronze medallists. Kirsten Moore-Towers and Dylan Moscovitch finished just off the podium, in fourth.

Duhamel and Radford went on to win back-to-back world titles in 2015 and 2016.

In the ladies’ competition, Yuna Kim of South Korea, the 2010 Olympic champion, made a triumphant return to the world championships by winning gold.

Kaetlyn Osmond, who won Skate Canada International and the Canadian title in the 2012-13 season, won over the crowd in London, finishing eighth in her worlds debut. Osmond went on to win the world crown in 2018.

The 2013 ISU World Figure Championships marked the last time the event was held in Canada. In ten world championships on Canadian soil since 1932, there have been countless unforgettable moments, and memories, for skating fans.

And now, Montreal, it’s your turn.

Day tickets for the ISU World Figure Skating Championships ® 2020 are on sale now and can be purchased online at montreal2020.com, by phone at 1-877-668-8269 or in person at the Centre Bell Box Office.

2013 WORLD FIGURE SKATING CHAMPIONSHIPS MEDALLISTS

DISCIPLINE GOLD SILVER BRONZE
Men Patrick Chan (CAN) Denis Ten (KAZ) Javier Fernandez (SPA)
Ladies Yu-Na Kim (KOR) Carolina Kostner (ITA) Mao Asada (JPN)
Pairs Tatiana Volosozhar / Maxim Trankov (RUS) Aliona Savchenko / Robin Szolkowy (GER) Meagan Duhamel / Eric Radford (CAN)
Ice Dance Meryl Davis / Charlie White (USA) Tessa Virtue / Scott Moir (CAN) Ekaterina Bobrova / Dmitri Soloviev (RUS)

Worlds Rewind: Calgary 2006

As we head into the home stretch to the ISU World Figure Skating Championships® 2020 in Montreal, Quebec, we continue to look back at previous world championships staged in Canada. Part 9 of the ten-part series reflects on the 2006 world championships in Calgary.

One thing was certain heading into the 2006 ISU World Figure Skating Championships at Calgary’s Pengrowth Saddledome – the door was wide open for a changing of the guard.

With the 2006 Olympic Winter Games closing out in Torino, Italy, just weeks earlier, a lot of familiar faces decided to take a pass on the world championships.

Olympic men’s champion Evgeni Plushenko declined to attend the event, as did ladies’ gold medallist Shizuka Arakawa. Russian pairs champions Tatiana Totmianina and Maxim Marinin retired from competitive skating.

With Plushenko not competing, it was shaping up to be a battle between Canadian Jeffrey Buttle, Switzerland’s Stephane Lambiel and Americans Evan Lysacek and Johnny Weir for the gold medal.

It was as close as many predicted.

Defending world champion Lambiel, skating to Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons”, laid down a magnificent free program punctuated by a quad toe loop and four triples in the second half of his program. Even with his near-perfect performance, Lambiel defeated Joubert by less than four points for gold.

Lysacek bounced back from a hard fall in the warmup to claim the bronze medal. Canadian Emanuel Sandhu was fifth, followed by Buttle in sixth and Weir in seventh.

“I’m so happy with this title,” said Lambiel afterwards. “I competed, I fought, I was very confident, and my goal today was to skate for myself.”

“I had to push myself harder and harder and that’s why I did this job. I just thought about my skating and nothing else.”

In what many considered one of the biggest upsets in the history of the world championships, American Kimmie Meissner had the skate of her life in the free program on her way to a world title at just 16 years of age, joining Michelle Kwan and Tara Lipinski as U.S. teenage world champions.

Meissner landed seven triple jumps in her free program, including a pair of triple-triple combinations.

“I am so happy with myself; it’s an awesome feeling,” said

Meissner, who had placed sixth at the Torino Olympics a few weeks earlier.

“I really wanted to do my best at the last competition of the season – smooth sailing right through my program.”

Fumie Suguri won the silver medal, becoming the first Japanese skater to win three medals at the world championships, adding to the back-to-back bronzes she won in 2002 and 2003. American champion Sasha Cohen, who many considered the favourite in Calgary, struggled but still managed to take home the bronze.

Montreal’s Joannie Rochette finished seventh.

Just a month after having to withdraw from the Olympics, Marie France Dubreuil and Patrice Lauzon captivated the Calgary crowd on home soil to win ice dance silver. In Torino, Dubreuil had a scary fall on a rotational lift near the end of their original dance, ending their Olympic dream and leaving their worlds appearance in doubt.

They came, and they delivered. With Dubreuil still injured, the duo brought down the Saddledome house and finished a mere 0.45 of a point behind Bulgaria’s Albena Denkova and Maxim Staviski for gold. Olympic silver medallists Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto of the U.S. finished in third spot.

”It was a long journey and there were a lot of emotions tonight,” said Lauzon after the free dance. ”There was a lot of pressure, but we did it great and we were very strong.”

”I can’t tell you how much it means,” added Dubreuil. ”Four weeks ago, I was in a wheelchair and far from thinking I could be that strong here.

”When I came here, even at the beginning of the week, I was doing all I could to show I wasn’t limping, even a little bit.”

Chinese skaters held down the top two podium positions in the pairs event. After just missing the podium in Torino, Pang Qing and Tong Jian won gold in Calgary, followed by compatriots Zhang Dan and Zhang Hao and Russia’s Maria Petrova and Alexei Tikhonov.

The ISU World Figure Skating Championships would return to Canada for the tenth time in 2013, when London, Ontario hosted the sport’s crown jewel event.

Day tickets for the ISU World Figure Skating Championships ® 2020 are on sale now and can be purchased online at montreal2020.com, by phone at 1-855-310-2525 or in person at the Centre Bell Box Office.

2006 WORLD FIGURE SKATING CHAMPIONSHIPS MEDALLISTS

DISCIPLINE GOLD SILVER BRONZE
Men Stéphane Lambiel (SUI) Brian Joubert (FRA) Evan Lysacek (USA)
Ladies Kimmie Meissner (USA) Fumie Suguri (JPN) Sasha Cohen (USA)
Pairs Pang Qing / Tong Jian (JPN) Zhang Dan / Zhang Hao (JPN) Maria Petrova / Alexei Tikhonov (RUS)
Ice Dance Albena Denkova / Maxim Staviski (BUL) Marie-France Dubreuil / Patrice Lauzon (CAN) Margarita Drobiazko / Povilas Vanagas (LIT)

Worlds Rewind: Vancouver 2001

As we head into the home stretch to the ISU World Figure Skating Championships® 2020 in Montreal, Quebec, we continue to look back at previous world championships staged in Canada. Part 8 of the ten-part series reflects on the 2001 world championships in Vancouver.

As the skating world converged on Vancouver for the 2001 ISU World Figure Skating Championships, there were several intriguing storylines to follow at General Motors Place.

Three-time defending world champion Alexei Yagudin of Russia seemed headed for an inevitable showdown with compatriot Evgeny Plushenko, the heir apparent in men’s figure skating. Michelle Kwan saw a pair of imposing obstacles – namely Russia’s Irina Slutskaya and fellow American Sarah Hughes – standing in her way of a fourth world title. And Jamie Salé and David Pelletier, the darlings of Canadian pair skating, were looking to win gold on Canadian soil.

The men’s battle didn’t materialize as expected.

Yagudin, the three-time defending world champion, suffered a foot injury while training a few days before the competition. He had a forgettable qualifying round, falling twice and landing just three of his seven planned triple jumps to plummet to fifth spot, a fourth consecutive world title clearly in jeopardy.

If there was even a glimmer of hope for Yagudin and the rest of the field, Plushenko made sure it was short-lived with a dominating performance in Vancouver.

With a rousing long program that saw him land eight triple jumps and his signature quad-triple-double combination, Plushenko electrified the crowd with a powerful, adrenaline-filled program on the way to his first of three world titles.

“I’m so happy,” Plushenko told reporters after his long program. “I did everything clean. I am not yet conscious of winning. Maybe in a week or five days, I will realize I won this title. That I did it. I am world champion.”

Yagudin rallied to take the silver medal, while American Todd Eldredge won bronze, a full ten years after winning his first world championship.

At 29 years of age, Eldredge became the oldest men’s skater to win a medal at the world championships since Roger Turner, who was also 29, won silver in 1931.

In the ladies’ event, Kwan trailed Russia’s Slutskaya after the short program but bounced back with a near-flawless long program, including landing her triple toe-triple toe combination – a jump that had given Kwan problems throughout her career.

Canada’s greatest medal hope rested on the shoulders of the pairs tandem of Salé and Pelletier, and the two-time national championships did not disappoint on home soil. In just their third season together, Salé and Pelletier put the finishing touches on an incredible season in which they finished atop the podium in all but one event.

Skating their long program to “Tristan and Isolde,” the duo mesmerized the Vancouver crowd, bringing them to their feet before the music had stopped. At the end of their program, Salé, overcome with emotion and with her arms wrapped around Pelletier, exclaimed, “Oh my God, Oh my God.” Minutes later, as their marks were read, Canada had its first gold medal at the world championships since Elvis Stojko won the men’s title in 1997.

“It was absolutely awesome,” Salé said afterwards. “I was calm, and I enjoyed each moment because it can be overwhelming.”

“This is the best day of my life,” added Pelletier.

Barbara Fusar-Poli and Maurizio Margaglio claimed gold in ice dance. France’s Marina Anissina and Gwendal Peizerat won silver and Irina Lobacheva and Ilia Averbukh took bronze.

The ISU World Figure Skating Championships would return to Canada in 2006 when Calgary hosted figure skating’s flagship event.

Day tickets for the ISU World Figure Skating Championships ® 2020 are on sale now and can be purchased online at montreal2020.com, by phone at 1-855-310-2525 or in person at the Centre Bell Box Office.

2001 WORLD FIGURE SKATING CHAMPIONSHIPS MEDALLISTS

DISCIPLINE GOLD SILVER BRONZE
Men Evgeni Plushenko (RUS) Alexei Yagudin (RUS) Todd Eldredge (USA)
Ladies Michelle Kwan (USA) Irina Slutskaya (RUS) Sarah Hughes (USA)
Pairs Jamie Salé / David Pelletier (CAN) Elena Berezhnaya / Anton Sikharulidze (RUS) Shen Xue / Zhao Hongbo (CHN)
Ice Dance Barbara Fusar-Poli / Maurizio Margaglio (ITA) Marina Anissina / Gwendal Peizerat (FRA) Irina Lobacheva / Ilia Averbukh (RUS)

Worlds Rewind: Edmonton 1996

As the countdown to the ISU World Figure Skating Championships ® 2020 in Montreal, Quebec continues, we look back at previous world championships staged in Canada. Part 7 of the ten-part series reflects on the 1996 edition of the event in Edmonton.

The eyes of the skating world were on two-time defending champion Elvis Stojko as the 1996 ISU World Figure Skating Championships rolled into Edmonton, Alberta.

Skating on home soil, Stojko had an entire country step on to the ice with him as he went in search of a worlds three-peat at Northlands Coliseum.

It wasn’t to be.

A stumble in the short program dropped the native of Richmond Hill, Ontario, into seventh spot and facing an uphill battle heading into the final night of competition.

But Stojko wasn’t going to be dethroned without a fight.

On an unforgettable night of free programs that had the crowd of over 15,000 constantly on its feet, Stojko made a spirited run for the podium but came up just short, finishing in fourth spot.  American Todd Eldridge took home the gold medal, just in front of 18-year-old Russian Ilia Kulik. Rudy Galindo of the United States held off Stojko for bronze.

“That was the best skating by the most people I have ever seen,” said four-time world champion Kurt Browning after the dramatic evening had concluded.

Stojko called the evening “magical, inspiring and energetic.”

“That was one of my best skates,” he added. “The crowd was unreal. The whole thing was unreal.”

After back-to-back top-10 finishes at the world championships, Canadians Shae-Lynn Bourne and Victor Kraatz earned their first worlds medal in Edmonton. The duo claimed a bronze medal, finishing behind Russians Oksana Grishuk and Evgeny Platov (gold) and Anjelika Krylova and Oleg Ovsiannikov (silver).

It was Canada’s first ice dance medal at the world championships since Tracy Wilson and the late Rob McCall won bronze eight years earlier.

“The skate in itself felt wonderful,” Bourne told reporters. “And how the crowd reacted, and how it all just ended with a medal on top of it was so overwhelming. It’s hard to put words to it.”

The finish was the first of four consecutive bronze medals at the world championships for Bourne and Kraatz. They would also claim silver in 2002 before winning the world crown in 2003.

Teenage sensation Michelle Kwan of the United States claimed her first world championship in Edmonton. After China’s Lu Chen laid down a flawless long program which included two perfect 6.0 marks for presentation,  Kwan knew she would have to be near perfect to win the world title. After doubling her triple toe, one of her seven planned triple jumps, Kwan replaced her double axel with another triple toe late in the program. Kwan also received two perfect presentation marks, and six of the nine judges gave her the edge over Chen.

Following her triumph in Edmonton, Kwan would go on to medal at the next eight world championships, including four more wins.

Russians Marina Eltsova and Andrey Bushkov won the pairs title, with both Canadian entries finishing inside the top 10. Kristy Sargeant and Kris Wirtz placed seventh followed by Michelle Menzies and Jean-Michel Bombardier in eighth.

As the world championships closed out in Edmonton, Canada would once again welcome the world in 2001, when Vancouver hosted figure skating’s flagship event.

Day tickets for the ISU World Figure Skating Championships ® 2020  are on sale now and can be purchased online at montreal2020.com, by phone at 1-855-310-2525 or in person at the Centre Bell Box Office.

1996 WORLD FIGURE SKATING CHAMPIONSHIPS MEDALLISTS

DISCIPLINE GOLD SILVER BRONZE
Men Todd Eldredge Ilia Kulik Rudy Galindo
Ladies Michelle Kwan Chen Lu Irina Slutskaya
Pair skating Marina Eltsova / Andrei Bushkov Mandy Wötzel / Ingo Steuer Jenni Meno / Todd Sand
Ice dancing Oksana Grishuk / Evgeni Platov Anjelika Krylova / Oleg Ovsyannikov Shae-Lynn Bourne / Victor Kraatz

Athlete Spotlight: Gabrielle Daleman

click image to enlarge

Q: How old were you when you first started figure skating?
Gabrielle: 4 years-old

Q: If you could eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Gabrielle: Blueberries

Q: If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
Gabrielle: Teleportation

Q: What is the first thing you would buy if you won the lottery?
Gabrielle: A cup of tea, then a Lamborghini

Q: What is your dream vacation destination and why?
Gabrielle: Greece

Q: What is your favourite thing about figure skating?
Gabrielle: The jumps

Athlete Spotlight: Nam Nguyen

click image to enlarge

Q: How old were you when you first started figure skating?
Nam: 5 years-old

Q: If you could eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Nam: Pringles BBQ flavoured chips

Q: If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
Nam: To disappear at will

Q: What is the first thing you would buy if you won the lottery?
Nam: A beet farm

Q: What is your dream vacation destination and why?
Nam: Honestly, my dream vacation is to just spend it in bed watching movies. Not a big fan of going to a destination

Q: What is your favourite thing about figure skating?
Nam: Performing for the audience and developing some sort of connection with them during my skate. I feel that it’s always special to share the “moment” with the people watching, because I think that it makes it more special. It also helps reduce the nerves too.