Tag Archive for: 2019 Canada Winter Games

Packed house for thrilling final day of figure skating at Canada Winter Games

RED DEER, Alberta – So long, Red Deer.

With a standing-room only crowd on hand for most of the day as the figure skating competition came to a close at the Canada Winter Games Thursday, one thing seems certain: the future of Canadian skating is in good hands.

It was the daily double for Team Alberta in singles figure skating, with Matthew Newnham taking novice men’s gold and Kaiya Ruiter finishing atop the novice women’s podium.

Trailing Team B.C.’s Wesley Chiu by more than nine points after the short program, Newnham rebounded with a spectacular free, scoring 91.54 points for a 130.23 total. Chiu finished second at 123.05 followed by Ontario’s Rio Morita.

“The short wasn’t that good, so I’m really happy I was able to bounce back,” said Newnham. “I am thrilled. Alberta has been supporting me through this whole experience, and I’m happy I could win a gold medal for us at home.”

Canadian novice women’s champion Ruiter capped off a dominating performance by earning 76.05 in her free program to total 125.91 for the competition.  Gabriella Guo of Ontario finished in the silver medal position and Mélaurie Boivin of Quebec claimed bronze.

“Every time I go out there, I just want to do the best I can,” said Ruiter. “I can’t describe the feeling I have right now. To have so many people cheering for me, it’s unbelievable. I just want to thank everyone – my coaches, my family, my friends, everyone who supports me. I couldn’t do it without them.”

Canadian novice ice dance silver medallists Kiera Kam and Mathew Carter of Team B.C. captured gold with a near-flawless free dance that earned them a 66.67 score and an overall score of 95.51, narrowly beating Ontario’ Sydney Embro and Eric Millar at 94.19. Isabel McQuilkin and Jacob Portz of Alberta took home bronze.

“I can’t really believe it right now, I’m stunned,” said Kam. “I think this will boost our confidence for moving up to junior (next year). We’ve really improved this year, and we’re very happy with what we did here.”

“I didn’t expect to come to the Canada Games, so to come here and finish first, I’m very excited,” added Carter. “This should give us a lot of confidence for next year.”

In novice pairs, Quebec’s Jamie Fournier and Gabriel Farand, who won gold at the Canadian Tire National Skating Championships in January, moved one step higher on the podium to win gold with 110.25. Caidence Derenisky amd Raine Eberl of Saskatchewan earned silver, while the bronze went to Mackenzie Ripley and Owen Brawley from Ontario.

“Usually we skate for each other, but we skated for our province here,” said Farand. “It means a lot to get a win for Team Quebec.”

“I’m really proud of what we did because we were a bit down after Canadians,” added Fournier. “I think this will be a great learning experience for us moving forward.”

“I think our mindset was to do what we’ve been doing all season,” said Eberl, who teamed with Dereninsky to take novice pair silver. “To compete on this stage, at the national level, it’s an eye-opening experience.”

“The crowd was super loud, and I was a little nervous,” admitted Derenisky. “It’s been such a great time here and we are really happy with the result.”

The Special Olympics Women’s Level III medals were also handed out Thursday, with gold going to Laurence Blondeau of Quebec, Jessica Cranton on Nova Scotia winning silver and New Brunswick’s Molly Kane securing bronze.

“On the ice, I feel unstoppable”: Special Olympians stealing hearts in Red Deer

For final competition results, visit the Canada Winter Games figure skating page.

Five champions crowned on Day 3 of Canada Winter Games

RED DEER, Alberta – Had he not been such a fast runner, John Kim may have been the first figure skater in Canada Winter Games history to win gold wearing sweat pants.

The 12-year-old from Team Ontario overcame an “oops” moment Wednesday to score 63.11 in his free program and win pre-novice men’s gold with a 103.16 total score. Brendan Wong of Team B.C. was second at 96.40 while David Li, also from B.C., took bronze with 87.19 points.

Just minutes before he was set to compete, Kim, the reigning Canadian pre-novice men’s champion, realized he had forgotten his skating outfit in his dorm room, located close to the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre. Kim took his on-ice warmup in sweat pants before making a mad dash to retrieve his outfit. He made it back to the rink about 15 minutes before his start time.

“I freaked out and told my coach, and I ran back so fast,” he said with a smile. “I was so tired when I came back. That was close.”

“It’s been a great year for me, something that I dreamed of,” added Kim, referring to his season. “It feels great, and all my teammates cheered for me, so it was pretty awesome.”

Michelle Deng of Alberta captured pre-novice women’s gold in her home province, winning with a combined score of 108.93 to edge out Quebec’s Sara-Maude Dupuis at 106.10. Audrey Carle of Ontario took bronze.

In pre-novice ice dance, Hailey Yu and Brendan Giang won gold with a 79.49 total, less than a point ahead of Team Alberta’s Grace Pelé and Joel Portz. The bronze went to Savanna Martel and Kobi Chant, also from Alberta and leaders after the short program.

“It’s really overwhelming and exciting at the same time,” said Yu. “I really enjoyed seeing Team B.C. cheering us on.”

“I’m glad that when we look at the B.C. medal count, we know we helped,” she added with a laugh.

“It was really exciting, and I’m thankful we could come here and show what we can do,” added Giang. “It was exciting but nerve-wracking.”

Canadian champions Lily Wilberforce and Aidan Wright of Team Ontario captured pre-novice pair gold, with a 52.71 free program and an 83.96 total. Charlotte Giraldeau and Eliott Goulet of Quebec won silver, followed by Ashlyn Schmitz and Tristan Taylor of Saskatchewan.

“We’re really happy with that outcome,” said Wilberforce. “We were really smooth. The twist was very good, just a little bobble.”

“Every time I looked at Lily, there was a smile on her face and it just reassured me everything was going to be fine,” said Wright.

The Special Olympics Men’s Level III event closed out the competition Wednesday. Emanuel Boulutfallah of Quebec won gold, followed by Nova Scotia’s Scott Denyes and Yukon’s Michael Sumner.

“I skated with all my heart and all my passion, and I hope the crowd enjoyed it,” said Boulutfallah. “It was such a fun time here.”

For competition results, visit the Canada Winter Games figure skating page.

Follow the conversation on social media by using the #CWG2019, #CGFigureSkating, and #ThisIsOurMoment hashtags.

UP NEXT: The figure skating competition at the Canada Games wraps up Thursday at the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre. The novice free dance leads off the day, followed by novice men, novice pair and Special Olympics Women’s Level III. The novice women’s free program wraps up the figure skating competition Thursday night. Live streaming begins at 13:50 PM MT/ 15:50 PM ET.

“On the ice, I feel unstoppable”: Special Olympians stealing hearts in Red Deer

RED DEER, Alberta – His program finished, Jeff Leung remains seated in the kiss and cry at these Canada Winter Games, a broad smile beaming across his face.

He isn’t going anywhere for a while.

Moments earlier, Leung, a Special Olympics athlete from Team B.C., had skated off the ice to a rousing ovation, absorbing the cheers with his arms raised to the heavens in triumph.

Now, it’s time for Leung to do the cheering. As Team Ontario’s Michael Raytchev performs his program, Leung stays in his spot, clapping his hands above his head as his new friend completes each element. As B.C.’s Eric Pahima, the final skater, finishes his program, both Leung and Raytchev are waiting for him, arms outstretched.

The music stops, and the crowd heads for the exits inside the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre as the Zamboni begins resurfacing the ice, the day’s competition over.

The three friends stay in the kiss and cry, basking in a moment that is theirs alone. A dream realized, their own personal finish line crossed.

No one asks about medals. This moment, their moment, means so much more.

“It’s the friends I make that means most,” says Pahima, flanked by Leung and Raytchev. “And to stand at centre ice, standing tall, and seeing all those people cheering me on.”

“To me, skating is all about the freedom. When I’m on the ice, I feel unstoppable. Untouchable.”

More than 4,000 kilometres and three time zones stand between Raytchev and the two B.C. skaters. Three days ago, they had never met.

You’d never know it. Now, their bond is inseparable.

“I like to have a great time and entertain the crowd,” says Leung with a smile. “And I just love cheering for my friends.”

Such is the spirit of the Special Olympic athletes participating in the figure skating events at these Canada Winter Games. With their infectious energy and unequivocal sportsmanship, these beautiful, wondrous “Special O” athletes, competing in four men’s and women’s events, seem to be stealing the show – and more than a few hearts – at the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre.

Before Raytchev skates, the entire Team Ontario figure skating team convenes in the stands and screams as one for him. As Raytchev finishes his program, they rise and bellow out the Ontario chant, complete with a beating drum and Viking clap. He laughs and waves at his teammates.

“It feels amazing to see my team do that, and to be here with my friends,” says Raytchev, an ear-to-ear smile etched across his face. “I feel my team is always behind me. It doesn’t matter if I make a mistake, they will cheer for me until the end.”

“You see the entire Ontario team come back to watch, and you begin to realize the effect these athletes have on everyone,” says Cathy Skinner, Team Ontario’s Special Olympics coach. “This is Michael’s first-ever Games, and he was really nervous. He’s never skated in front of a crowd before. They loved him. They loved all of them.”

“You saw them at the boards. All of them cheering, yelling, for each other, shaking hands. You just don’t see that very often in sport.”

“I don’t think you can put into words what these athletes do for us, it’s really too hard,” adds Jessica Chapelski, Special Olympics figure skating coach for Team B.C. “It reminds us of what sport is all about – to have fun, to try to reach personal bests and accomplish things you never thought you would.”

Hugs, smiles and high-fives are mandatory here. The athletes want to win, but that is almost secondary. It’s about the friendships and a chance to take their bow at centre ice.

“It feels cool but weird in a way,” says Melanie Taylor, a Special Olympian from Team Newfoundland and Labrador competing in the Women’s Level II category. “You’re competing and representing your province, but that means you are competing against others, too. I like to cheer for others.”

“When I’m out there, I feel popular.”

Taylor went on to win gold in the Women’s Level II event, securing Newfoundland and Labrador’s first medal of these Games.

“They just have so much passion for our sport,” adds Neil Thorne, Special Olympics coach for Team Newfoundland and Labrador. “They make long-lasting friendships here, and that is probably the most important thing. These are great role models for all athletes.”

Barb Prystai, Team Alberta’s Special Olympics coach, is attending her fifth Canada Winter Games. Her heart swells with pride and, just like Skinner and Chapelski, her eyes well with tears as she speaks.

“It’s about the sheer joy of sport. They just celebrate life,” says Prystai. “Don’t get me wrong, they want to win, there’s no doubt about it, but if they don’t, tomorrow’s another day. They’ve won by being here, by being included. They want to be part of the team. That’s the win.”

And no medal can ever shine brighter than that.

Canadian novice champions Chiu, Ruiter off to quick starts in Day 2 at CWG

RED DEER, Alberta – Wesley Chiu sure knows how to make a first impression.

Chiu, the reigning Canadian novice men’s champion, skated a new short program for the first time Wednesday, scoring 47.93 to lead after the short program at the Canada Winter Games. Maksim Chelmaev of Quebec is in second spot at 40.55 and Rio Morita of Ontario is third at 38.93.

“We put it together in less than two weeks and decided to give it a try here,” said Chiu of the new program. “I want to be comfortable for junior next year and since we don’t have a lot of time, we thought ‘why not?”

After his plane touched down in Vancouver following the Bavarian Open earlier this month – an event where he won gold – Chiu drove straight to his training rink where he met with coach Keegan Murphy. In no time, they had re-created a new short program. A week before the Canada Winter Games, Murphy asked Chiu if he wanted to try the new short in Red Deer.

Chiu said he was ready.

“I had no idea how it was going to go, because the harder elements are later in the program,” added Chiu.  “It turned out pretty good.”

In novice women, Kaiya Ruiter of Alberta – another Canadian champion – laid down a sparkling free program to score 49.86. Emily Millard of B.C. is second at 41.10 and Quebec’s Mélaurie Boivin third at 40.69.

“To compete at a Canada Games in my home province is just incredible,” said Ruiter. “I wanted to do my family and everyone proud. They’ve helped me so much and I can’t thank them enough. To have a skate like that here, on that ice, is amazing.”

In novice ice dance, Canadian bronze medallists Isabel McQuilkin and Jake Portz of Alberta set the early pace by scoring 32.06 in the pattern dance. Kiera Kam and Mathew Carter of B.C. and Sydney Embro and Eric Millar of Ontario are deadlocked in second at 28.84.

Jamie Fournier and Gabriel Farand of Quebec lead the novice pair event after scoring 42.88 in the short program. Mackenzie Ripley and Owen Brawley from Ontario are second at 37.91 followed by Caidence Derenisky and Raine Eberl of Saskatchewan at 36.71.

The Special Olympics Women’s Level II free program wrapped up competition Tuesday. Melanie Taylor of Newfoundland and Labrador claimed gold, while Ontario’s Ana Micanovic and Sarah Thomas earned silver and bronze, respectively.

For competition results, visit the Canada Winter Games figure skating page.

Follow the conversation on social media by using the #CWG2019, #CGFigureSkating, and #ThisIsOurMoment hashtags.


“The confidence is definitely there, but so is the pressure and expectations. I just want to do the best I can here, and see where I am.” – 2019 Canadian novice men’s champion Wesley Chiu of B.C., who leads after the short program at the CWG

“To me, skating, it’s all about the freedom. When I’m on the ice, I feel unstoppable. Untouchable.” – Eric Pahima, Team B.C. Special Olympian

“It’s about the sheer joy of sport. They just celebrate life. It’s just their joy. Don’t get me wrong, they want to win, there’s no doubt about it, but if they don’t, tomorrow’s another day. They’ve won by being here, by being included. They want to be part of the team. That’s the win.” – Barb Prystai, Special Olympics Coach, Team Alberta

UP NEXT: Medals in the pre-novice and Special Olympics events will be handed out Wednesday. The pre-novice free dance is the first event of the day, followed by the pair, men’s and women’s free programs. The Special Olympics Men’s Level III Free Skate wraps up Wednesday’s competition. Live streaming starts at 2:20 pm and can be viewed here.

Photo credit: Corina Cowie/2019 Canada Winter Games

Alberta, Ontario off to strong starts in figure skating at Canada Winter Games

RED DEER, Alberta – Monday turned out to be a productive day for current Canadian medallists as the figure skating competition got underway at the 2019 Canada Winter Games.

Canadian pre-novice bronze medallists Savanna Martel and Kobi Chant of Alberta set the early tone in the novice ice dance competition, scoring a combined 27.22   in the pattern dance. Hailey Yu and Brendan Giang from B.C. are in second spot at 26.15, while Grace Pelé and Joel Portz of Alberta are third at 25.44.

“We had an incredible crowd of Alberta fans scream and holler for us, people we don’t even know, so that made it pretty special,” said Chant. “I was nervous, it’s such a tight event and there’s a lot of pressure. It was a great start for us.”

“Having the crowd there boosted my energy level and helped me perform,” added Martel. “We want to be on that podium, so we needed this. It was amazing out there.”

It was a good day for the host province, as Alberta’s Michelle Deng also leads following the pre-novice women short program. Deng scored 41.90 and leads Maho Harada of B.C., who sits second with 36.22 points, and Ontario’s Audrey Carle, the reigning Canadian champion (36.13).

In pre-novice pair, 2019 Canadian champions Lily Wilberforce and Aidan Wright from Ontario scored 31.25 to lead after the short program. Quebec’s Charlotte Giraldeau and Eliott Goulet are second at 29.74.

John Kim of Ontario, the 2019 Canadian champion, leads the pre-novice men’s event after scoring 40.05 in the short program, ahead of British Columbians Brendan Wong (36.25) and David Li (33.87).

Medals in the four pre-novice events will be awarded after free programs Wednesday.

The Special Olympics competition saw their first medals decided in the Men’s Level II category. Michael Raytchev of Ontario placed first, followed by B.C. teammates Eric Pahima and Jeff Leung. That medal ceremony will also take place Wednesday night.

For competition results, visit the Canada Winter Games figure skating page.


Two Alberta brothers are current Canadian ice dance medallists. Joel Portz and his partner Grace Pelé are the 2019 Canadian pre-novice silver medallists, while Jacob Portz and Isabel McQuilkin are novice bronze medallists. The brothers, who represent the Calalta Figure Skating Club in Calgary, are both competing this week.

Audrey Carle from Ontario, the reigning Canadian pre-novice women’s champion, is the younger sister of 2017 national novice women’s champion Catherine Carle.


“Being at the Canada Games, especially in our home province, it’s pretty awesome. You have a lot of energy, and people you don’t even know screaming at the top of their lungs for you.” – Kobi Chant, pre-novice ice dance

UP NEXT: The novice competition and Special Olympics Singles Level II Women events will be staged at the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre on Tuesday. The novice pattern dance kicks off the day’s events, followed by the novice pair, men’s and women’s short programs. The Special Olympics Women’s Level II Free Program wraps up the competition Tuesday night.

Photo credit: Corina Cowie, 2019 Canada Winter Games

Young figure skaters ready for national spotlight at 2019 Canada Winter Games

RED DEER, Alberta – Some of Canada’s premier young figure skaters are set to step into the national spotlight at the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer, Alberta.

The figure skating competition kicks off Week 2 at the Canada Winter Games, with competition getting underway on Monday, February 25th at the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre. Skaters will compete in pre-novice, novice and Special Olympics events.

Skating fans can get a rinkside seat to the competition with live streaming of the Canada Games. Don’t forget to join the conversation on social media by using the hashtag #CGFigureSkating.

Reigning Canadian novice men’s champion Wesley Chiu, representing British Columbia, and Canadian novice women’s champion Kaiya Ruiter of Alberta headline the novice competitors in Red Deer.

All four pre-novice national champions will also take to the ice at the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre: John Kim (Ontario, pre-novice men), Audrey Carle (Ontario, pre-novice women), Lily Wilberforce/Aidan Wright (Ontario, pre-novice pair) and Sandrine Gauthier /Quentin Thieren (Quebec, pre-novice ice dance).

To see a full list of competitors by event, please visit the Canada Winter Games figure skating page. Once the competition gets underway, you can also visit Skate Canada’s Canada Winter Games event page for start orders and results.

Click here to search for competitors

Click here for CWG figure skating schedule and results