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.