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Kaetlyn Osmond Named Athlete Ambassador for 2020 Canadian Tire National Skating Championships

OTTAWA, ON: One of Canada’s figure skating sweethearts makes her return to the 2020 Canadian Tire National Skating Championships. Skate Canada is pleased to announce that 2018 world champion, Kaetlyn Osmond, will serve as the official Athlete Ambassador for the 106th edition of the national championships. The event will take place in Mississauga, ON, from January 13-19, 2020 at the Paramount Fine Foods Centre.

“It truly is an honour to serve as Athlete Ambassador for the Canadian Tire National Skating Championships,” says Osmond. “This sport will always have a special place in my heart, and it is a privilege to represent all athletes competing in Mississauga and to interact with the fans who joined me in an unforgettable journey throughout my competitive career.”

Osmond is Canada’s most decorated female singles skater. She began her success winning her first international title in 2012 at Nebelhorn Trophy in Germany and later went on to win her first senior national title at the 2013 Canadian Championships, and subsequently won two more titles in 2014 and 2017. She competed in two Winter Olympic Games, the first being in 2014, where she won silver for the team event, and the second in 2018, winning bronze in the individual women’s event and gold in the team event. On the ISU Grand Prix Circuit, she won four medals, qualifying for the ISU Grand Prix Final in 2016 and won a bronze medal in 2017. In addition, she won two world championship medals, gold in 2018 and silver in 2017. In 2018, Osmond became the first Canadian woman to win the World Championship title in 45 years.

As Athlete Ambassador, Osmond will handle speaking engagements, media interviews, make appearances on behalf of competing athletes and, of course, make time for fans attending the event.

“We are excited to have Kaetlyn as our Athlete Ambassador for this event. We know Kaetlyn will do an exceptional job at inspiring the fans at the Paramount Fine Foods Centre,” says Debra Armstrong, CEO, Skate Canada. “Kaetlyn is an excellent role model for all Canadians and has made significant contributions this sport. With a world title and three Olympic medals she knows what it takes to stand on the podium and we hope fans in Mississauga enjoy engaging with Kaetlyn during the event.”

Taking a step back from competitive skating in 2018, Osmond entertained skating fans in a multitude of shows in Canada and internationally, including the cross-country “Thank you Canada” tour. In 2018, Osmond was honoured with both the Order of Newfoundland and Labrador and having in the highway from Red Harbour N.L., to Marystown being renamed Osmond Way. Osmond announced her retirement in 2019.

TICKET INFO
Tickets for Thursday’s Senior practice are $16.00 ($10 ticket + $6 venue fee) and includes Novice Pairs Free and Junior Pairs Free. Single session tickets for Seniors begin on Friday at $38.65 ($30 tickets + $8.65 venue fee) and pricing varies by session and seating level. Ticket prices for the Novice and Junior competition fall earlier in the week and are $28.35 per day ($20 ticket +$8.35 venue fee). Tickets can be purchased online, by phone at 905-615-3200 x2814 or in person at the Paramount Fine Foods Centre Box Office.

EVENT
Having previously hosted the Canadian National Skating Championships in 2013, this will be the second time that Mississauga will welcome Canada’s best skaters. The city has also hosted four Skate Canada International competitions (2000, 2003, 2011, 2016) and the 2017 World Junior Synchro Championships.

The pre-eminent all-Canadian competition will see athletes vie for spots on the Skate Canada National Team and the Canadian teams that will compete at the 2020 Four Continents Figure Skating Championships, the 2020 ISU World Junior Figure Skating Championships and the 2020 ISU World Figure Skating Championships.

Join our exclusive mailing list to receive event and ticket information for the 2020 Canadian Tire National Skating Championships.

Joannie Rochette to act as Athlete Ambassador for Skate Canada International

MONTREAL, QC: Skate Canada is pleased to announce that six-time Canadian champion and 2010 Olympic Winter Games bronze medallist Joannie Rochette, 32, Île Dupas, Quebec, will serve as the official Athlete Ambassador during 2018 Skate Canada International. The event will take place in Laval, Que., from October 25-28, 2018 at Place Bell.

“I am extremely excited to be named Athlete Ambassador for Skate Canada International,” says Rochette. “Although I have moved on to a new chapter in my life, I hold cherished memories of my figure skating career and am honoured to represent Skate Canada, and all athletes participating at this prestigious event.”

Rochette competed at Skate Canada International six times during her career, medalling at five of those appearances and winning gold three times (2006, 2008, 2009).  In her role as Athlete Ambassador, Rochette will handle speaking engagements and media interviews, conduct appearances on behalf of the competing athletes and, of course, interact with fans throughout the week.

“We are thrilled to have Joannie involved with Skate Canada International. She knows exactly the pressures that the athletes will face during the competition and will be able to convey those experiences to media and fans over the course of the week,” said Debra Armstrong, Chief Executive Officer, Skate Canada. “Joannie is a powerful role model for all Canadians through her skating and her courage during the 2010 Olympic Games, and now as a medical student. We are excited to have Joannie back at the rink in Laval.”

Rochette represented CPA Berthierville during her career and won the first of her six consecutive Canadian titles in 2005, and successfully defended her national crown every year through 2010. In February of 2010, she captured the hearts of Canada, and the world, with emotional performances in the short and free programs on her way to a bronze medal at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver. Rochette competed in seven world championships, winning silver at the 2009 ISU World Figure Skating Championships in Los Angeles.

Rochette was named the 2010 Female Athlete of the Year by the Canadian Press, and in 2017 Skate Canada announced she would be inducted into the Skate Canada Hall of Fame. She is currently attending medical school at McGill University.

TICKETS

Single session tickets begin at $40.50 (including applicable taxes and surcharges) and prices range by session. Tickets for the Thursday practices are only $16 (including taxes and surcharges).

Tickets can be purchased online at placebell.ca, by phone at 1-855-634-4472 or in person at the Place Bell Box Office.

EVENT INFO

Skate Canada International is the second competition in the annual ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating series. The other events take place in the United States (Skate America), Finland, Japan (NHK Trophy), Russia (Rostelecom Cup) and France (Internationaux de France).

Each skater/team can be assigned a maximum of two events. Skaters are awarded points based on their placements at their events. The top six from each discipline (men, women, pair and ice dance) qualify for the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final to be held in Vancouver, B.C., from December 6-9, 2018.

Twenty-six years after “epic moment”, Elvis Stojko returns to Halifax as Athlete Ambassador

Photos : Gladys Orozco

Elvis Stojko can’t believe it’s been that long.

It’s been more than a quarter-century since Stojko introduced himself to the world in Halifax, NS, and the three-time world champion wonders where the time has gone.

This week, Stojko returns to the picturesque Maritime city, serving as the official Athlete Ambassador for the 102nd edition of the Canadian Tire National Skating Championships. In the role, Stojko will handle speaking engagements, media interviews and in-venue activations and, as always, make a little time for competing athletes and his legion of fans.

Stojko will always hold a soft spot in his heart for Halifax, host city of the 1990 ISU World Figure Skating Championships. A fresh-faced youngster still a couple of weeks shy of his 18th birthday, Stojko, fresh off a silver medal performance at the national championships in Sudbury, Ont., arrived in Nova Scotia primed for his first senior worlds.

That week in Halifax, the world was introduced to 17-year-old Elvis Stojko. When he left town, Kurt Browning had racked up his second of three straight world titles, and Stojko was a very respectable ninth

“Halifax – wow, what a week that was,” says Stojko with a laugh. “It was a dream week for me, just an amazing experience. There is no doubt it was a turning point for my career.

“I’ll never forget it. The place was sold out, the fans were just packed in there, and they were going ballistic (for the free program). It was just one of those epic moments.”

“I’ll never forget, the previous year at junior worlds, I was eighth overall. Suddenly, here I was, skating against Kurt, and Viktor Petrenko, and Todd Eldridge – guys I always watched on TV – and I was ninth best in the world, and sixth in the long (program). It was pretty surreal. Everything just kind of snowballed after Halifax. It just kept building and I never really looked back.”

After leaving Halifax. Stojko set off on a gradual climb to the top of the skating world. At the 1991 world championships, he became the first skater to land the quad-double jump combination. The following year, he took home his first world medal with a bronze and followed that up with a silver in 1993.

In 1994, Stojko made it to the top of the skating mountain, winning his first of three world titles over a four-year span.

For good measure, Stojko also became the first skater to complete a quad/triple combination at the 1997 Champions Series Final in Hamilton, Ont.

In addition to his three world titles and seven Canadian senior crowns, Stojko has a pair of Olympic silver medals in his trophy case (1994, 1998).

It was after his second Olympic silver in Nagano – where he skated with a painful groin injury – that Stojko hit tough times. Over the next few years, Stojko admits he fell into a long stretch of depression. Needing a break, Stojko went to visit a friend in Mexico in 2001.

It was what he needed: a chance to relax, escape the merciless Canadian winters and get a little privacy.

He ended up buying an apartment on the spot.

In 2009, he met Gladys Orozco, a former Mexican figure skating champion, while at a skating competition. Stojko and Orozco were married in Las Vegas a year later. The couple lived in Ajijic, a stunning village about an hour from Guadalajara.

But eventually, Canada called him home.

“I never really left,” he says of the return to Canada. “Sure, I was living in Mexico, but I have always been a Canadian. That never changed.

“It was time to come home.”

Since touching down back in Canada, Stojko has been working with Skate Canada, taking young skaters under his wing with on-ice training and mental preparation. Stojko, a martial arts expert, has also given kung fu lessons to his young charges.

Elvis Stojko trains young skaters.

In his limited spare time, Stojko continues to skate in shows while chasing another of his passions: professional kart racing at the national and international level. Stojko also recently dipped his toe in the Broadway show pond, starring as manipulative lawyer Billy Flynn in Chicago: The Musical.

Despite his busy schedule, Stojko is focused on giving back to a sport that has given him so much.

As he was coming up through the ranks as a youngster, Stojko says he often turned to 1987 world champion and two-time Olympic silver medallist Brian Orser for advice.
Stojko has never forgotten that Orser always seemed to find time for him, and he plans on paying it forward.

“If I can help guide them and get them pointed in the right direction, and teach them some of what I have learned, well, that’s what it’s all about. Giving something back.”

“I was fortunate enough to have others I could go to, guys like Brian, who were busy with their own careers but always took time to help out,” adds Stojko.

“These kids today are going to have their own hurdles. It can be a daunting process. You worry about what people think, you want to please everyone.

“If I can help guide them and get them pointed in the right direction, and teach them some of what I have learned, well, that’s what it’s all about. Giving something back.”

And as Stojko gets set to arrive in Halifax in his Athlete Ambassador role, the memories of 1990 are sure to come flooding back.

His advice for those competing this week at the Canadian Tire National Skating Championships?

“It sounds cliché, but just embrace the moment,” says Stojko.

“These kids are the best in Canada. They are here for a reason. A few of them are going to have a magical week, but some will not. For a lot of these kids, this week is going to be a learning experience. You learn, you adapt and you come back stronger.

“Just go for it. This is your chance. Don’t hold anything back.”

And who knows. Perhaps a few skaters will be leaving Halifax with memories of their own.

Jeremy Ten named as the Athlete Ambassador for Skate Canada International in Lethbridge

OTTAWA, ON: Three-time Canadian medallist Jeremy Ten, 26, Vancouver, B.C., will return to the rink but in a new role. Ten will act as the Athlete Ambassador for the 2015 Skate Canada International taking place in Lethbridge, Alta., from October 29 – November 1, 2015 at the ENMAX Centre.

Over the course of the four-day event Ten will handle speaking engagements, media interviews, making appearances on behalf of the competing athletes, choreographing the gala group numbers and making time for his fans. He will also act as a guest judge at the Flower Retriever Auditions in Lethbridge on September 10, 2015 at the ENMAX Centre. Ten will be available for interviews during his visit.

“I am so honored and grateful to be attending the 2015 Skate Canada International as the Athlete Ambassador in Lethbridge, Alberta. Skate Canada was always one of my favorite competitions to compete in on the Grand Prix circuit thanks to the amazing volunteers, the incredibly supportive Canadian crowd, and the fans from all over the world that make our sport so great,” said Ten. “I look forward to meeting and interacting with the fans, engaging the community, and cheering on my former team mates as they take on some of skating’s best.”

“The role of Athlete Ambassador at our events is a great way for our alumni to stay connected to the sport and it also allows fans to interact with some of their favourite skaters. We are thrilled to have Jeremy in this role,” said Dan Thompson, Skate Canada CEO. “Having skated at this event three times previously in his career Jeremy has a vast knowledge of what it takes to compete at this level. We look forward to welcoming him to Lethbridge.” Ten has competed internationally for Canada for 11 years. He is a three-time national team member, two-time world team member in 2009 and 2015, and is also a two-time Canadian junior medallist, winning the junior Canadian title in 2007. He has competed at Skate Canada International three times in his career (2009, 2010, 2011).

Since his retirement in June 2015 he has taken his very first steps into independent adulthood and moved into his very own apartment, has been assisting and directing skating seminars and workshops, guest coaching at various skating clubs in B.C. and Alberta, choreographing, and working on his NCCP Level 3 coaching certification; all while maintaining two part-time jobs. Ten is also a recent graduate of Simon Fraser University with a Bachelor of Arts in Health Sciences and minor in Kinesiology.

TICKETS

All-event ticket packages are on sale now! Ticket packages range from $150-$180, plus applicable surcharges.

Single event tickets will go on sale on Thursday, September 10 at 10:00 a.m. (MT). Single tickets range from $15-$55, plus applicable surcharges. Children 12 and under are free to attend on Thursday for the practice sessions. Family four-packs are also available and range in cost from $125-$200, plus applicable surcharges.

Tickets can be purchased online at www.enmaxcentre.ca, by phone at 403.329.7328, or in person at the ENMAX Centre Box Office. Group discounts are also available for groups of 10 or more by calling 403.320.4225.

WHO TO WATCH

Fans in Lethbridge are in for an exciting event as Canadian favourites like Patrick Chan, Meagan Duhamel, Eric Radford, Kaitlyn Weaver, Andrew Poje, Nam Nguyen, Gabrielle Daleman and Kaetlyn Osmond highlight the fields. They will be joined by a number of world-class skaters including Yuzuru Hanyu, Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev.

EVENT INFO

Skate Canada International is the second competition in the annual ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating series. The other events take place in the United States (Skate America), China (Cup of China), France (Trophée Eric Bompard), Russia (Rostelecom Cup), and Japan (NHK Trophy).

Skaters are awarded points based on their placements in the series’ events. The top-six men and ladies and the top-six pair and ice dance teams qualify for the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final to be held in Barcelona, Spain from December 10-13, 2015.

Jennifer Beauchamp-Crichton named as Athlete Ambassador for the 2015 ISU World Synchronized Skating Championships

Jennifer-Beauchamp-Crichton-2OTTAWA, ON: Skate Canada has announced that Jennifer Beauchamp-Crichton, 33, of Burlington, Ont., will be the athlete ambassador for the upcoming 2015 ISU World Synchronized Skating Championships in Hamilton, Ont., from April 10-11 at the FirstOntario Centre.

Beauchamp-Crichton was the captain of the NEXXICE team that won gold at the 2009 ISU World Synchronized Skating Championships in Croatia. She was captain of the NEXXICE senior team from 2000-2011, winning five Canadian championships (2007-2011) and three world medals (bronze 2007, 2008; gold 2009).

“We are thrilled to have Jennifer as our athlete ambassador in Hamilton. She is a true example of a champion and also what it is to skate for life. Her experience at this event as an athlete will certainly provide some insight on the rigorous demands of the sport and the dedication it takes to compete at this elite level,” said Dan Thompson, CEO, Skate Canada. “Canada is proud to be seen as a leader in synchronized skating, and as the sport continues to grow around the world our ambassadors like Jennifer will be there to push it forward.”

Since retiring from competitive skating after the 2010-2011 season, Beauchamp-Crichton has continued to be involved in the sport coaching the Nexxice novice and intermediate teams, and has recently become a mother.

“Representing the Canadian athletes as the athlete ambassador at the ISU World Synchronized Skating Championships is an incredible honour. Having competed at six world championships I understand the determination, dedication and teamwork it takes to compete at this elite level,” said Beauchamp-Crichton. “Skating at the World Championships in London, Ontario, was one of my favourite moments as a skater and I am so thrilled that our amazing Canadian athletes will be able create these lasting memories in Hamilton. This is sure to be an exciting and memorable event for both the spectators and the athletes. I am truly looking forward to cheering on all the teams from near and far.”

As the athlete ambassador, Beauchamp-Crichton will be handling speaking engagements, media interviews, making appearances on behalf of the competing athletes, and making time for fans.

MEDIA AVAILABILITY

Beauchamp-Crichton will be available for in-person interviews on Thursday, March 26 at the

Appleby Ice Centre on rink four in Burlington, Ont., from 1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. (ET). She will be joined by members of the Nexxice novice, intermediate, and junior teams.

Media are asked to RSVP to Emma Bowie, Communications Manager, at [email protected] or 613.747.1007 ext. 2547 (office) or 613.914.2607 (cell).

EVENT INFO

This will be the 16th edition of the championships with Canada having won medals at 10 of those previous events. Most recently, NEXXICE from the Burlington Skating Centre won the world silver medal at the 2014 championships held in Courmayeur, Italy.

Twenty-five teams from 20 different countries will participate in the event, with Canada having two entries, NEXXICE from the Burlington Skating Centre, and Les Suprêmes from CPA Saint-Léonard.

TICKETS

Tickets are available and can be purchased online at www.ticketmaster.ca, by phone at 1-855-985-5000, or in person at the FirstOntario Centre box office.

Paige Lawrence named Athlete Ambassador for the 2015 Canadian Tire National Skating Championships in Kingston

OTTAWA, ON: Four-time Canadian pair medallist and 2014 Olympian Paige Lawrence, 22, of Kipling, Saskatchewan will act at the Athlete Ambassador for the 2015 Canadian Tire National Skating Championships in Kingston, Ontario. The event takes place from January 19-25 at the Rogers K-Rock Centre.

“We are delighted to have Paige act as our Athlete Ambassador in Kingston and help us kick-off the first skating event in Canada’s 2015 Year of Sport. This is the most important competition on Canadian skaters’ calendars as they are all striving to represent Canada at the international level. Having Paige join us to represent the competing athletes allows the skaters to stay focused on the ice,” said Dan Thompson, CEO, Skate Canada. “Paige has competed at this event nine times at the junior and senior level and certainly knows what it takes to compete at the national championships and to make it onto the podium.”

As the Athlete Ambassador, Lawrence will be handling speaking engagements, media interviews, making appearances on behalf of the competing athletes, and making time for fans.

“Kingston holds a special place in my heart, as this is where I won my first grand prix medal at the 2010 Skate Canada International.  I am so thrilled to be coming back to Kingston as the Athlete Ambassador for the 2015 Canadian Tire National Skating Championships and to share in the remarkable memories that are sure to be made,” said Lawrence. “I am honoured to represent the amazing athletes who gather here from across the country, as they compete to achieve their individual goals, and I look forward to cheering everyone on with all the enthusiasm in my heart.”

Lawrence and her partner Rudi Swiegers are four-time Canadian bronze medallists (2011, 2012, 2013, 2014). In 2010 they won their first international medal, a bronze at Skate Canada International in Kingston. That same season they also won the bronze medal at the 2011 ISU Four Continents Figure Skating Championships.

Lawrence and Swiegers qualified to compete for Canada at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi and placed 14th. They then went on to place 12th at the 2014 ISU World Figure Skating Championships in Japan.

After finishing the 2013-2014 season Lawrence and Swiegers went in separate directions.  Lawrence has been keeping herself busy by attending the University of Calgary and hopes to enter the Kinesiology Mind Sciences program in the fall.

TICKETS

Tickets still remain and can be purchased online at www.ticketmaster.ca, by phone at 1.855.985.5000 or in person at the Rogers K-Rock Centre.

EVENT

The event will feature approximately 250 skaters in the men’s, women’s, pair and ice dance disciplines, competing in three levels: senior, junior and novice.

Athletes qualified for the championships threw their sectional events and then move onto Skate Canada Challenge the national qualifying event, which saw 18 men’s, 18 women, 12 pair teams and 15 ice dance teams move onto the Canadian Tire National Skating Championships.

Athletes will vie for spots on the Skate Canada National Team and the Canadian teams that will compete at the 2015 ISU World Figure Skating Championships, the 2015 ISU Four Continents Figure Skating Championships and the 2015 ISU World Junior Figure Skating Championships.

SCI 2014 OUR ATHLETE AMBASSADOR: CRAIG BUNTIN

By Debbi Wilkes

Craig Buntin, Skate Canada International’s Athlete Ambassador, was 10 years old and had never been on a pair of skates when his family moved from Vancouver to Kelowna.

He soon discovered that skating was BIG in Kelowna. The entire community and particularly all his classmates seemed to live and breathe hockey. Of course, like every child, he wanted to belong and suddenly, learning to skate went to the top of his priority list. He’d never stepped on the ice but he was hungry to discover what made skating so great in the eyes of his new friends.

His Mom joined him up at the local Memorial Arena where the Kelowna Figure Skating Club operated.

Next he needed hockey skates. Off to Canadian Tire.

That first CanSkate lesson showed Craig that he was different. First of all he was several years older than everyone else, older and bigger, but he recognized that he was also keener and more motivated. If he was going to learn to skate, he had to do it fast. And by the end of the first week he was already skating backwards and doing simple jumps to test his daring despite being in hockey skates.

He realizes now that he fell in love with skating the second his blades hit the ice.

Part of this was due to the attitude of his first coach, Karen Bond, a patient and caring teacher whose love for the sport was contagious. (To this day if Craig is in Kelowna, he’ll make a trip to the rink to visit with Karen.)

As a result, Craig soon recognized that it was figure skating rather than hockey that was so exciting. That meant another trip to Canadian Tire to select figure skates … but they were all white! That necessitated visits to every shoemaker in town to see if those white skates could be dyed black. Everybody said, “No!” probably because his skates were likely made of plastic rather than leather. No dye would take. Finally one shoemaker agreed to see what he could do.

“I think he used black spray paint” says Craig, “but I didn’t care, my skates looked great.”

With his new black figure skates, Craig was on his way. The adjustment to those new skates, however, wasn’t as easy as he thought and he found himself tripping over his toe picks a lot, something that he admits now taught him quickly how to balance and control his speed and edges. It was either learn to balance or end up face first on the ice.

It wasn’t long before the first coaching bill arrived too, the moment when both Craig and his Mom realized that skating was an expensive sport. As a single parent, Craig’s Mom knew this could be a disappointing moment for her enthusiastic son and sat Craig down for a family meeting to discuss what this meant for the future of his involvement in the sport.

Deep down she wanted him to continue with skating recognizing that the sport teaches great skills beyond the athletics, building character and teaching determination.

At 10 years of age and after just one week of lessons, Craig already knew what he wanted to do and immediately announced to his Mom, “I’m going to the Olympics.”

If the Olympics were really his goal, his Mom agreed to support him … on one condition. He had to work hard. This was a defining moment in young Craig’s life.

The rest, they say, is history. Craig’s mother never had to remind him about their deal.

The hard work she described did indeed take him to the Olympic Games in 2006 in Turino, Italy. It also took him to the top of the national podium where he and his partner, Valerie Marcoux, won three consecutive Canadian Pair titles from 2004 to 2006; to four World Championships with Val and to two with partner Meagan Duhamel.

Craig was proud of his Kelowna roots and continued to represent the Kelowna Skating Club all the way to the national championships. Even after he changed his affiliation, the club was always there for support offering words of encouragement and inspiration.

Looking back on his career, Craig identifies sport as a guiding light in his life. It was skating that taught him all the important lessons and helped in developing all aspects of his personality, teaching him about winning and losing gracefully, setting goals, and supporting everyone involved, even your competitors. It also released his creativity to the point where he now believes there is a sense of artistry in everything.

Craig was 18 when Skate Canada International was held in Kamloops in 1998. He remembers sitting in the stands watching the event, wanting to be out there on the ice and being inspired by the competition. He also remembers thinking back to when he was starting out, 10 years old, an age in skating considered too old to realistically make the Olympic Games.

But like all great champions, he refused to let anyone else write his story, believing that wherever you’re competing, you’re closer to your dream than you think.

Olympian Craig Buntin returns home to Kelowna to act as the 2014 Skate Canada International Athlete Ambassador

OTTAWA, ON: Olympic figure skater and Kelowna native Craig Buntin, 34, will return to his hometown to act as the Athlete Ambassador for the 2014 Skate Canada International. The prestigious international competition will take place at Prospera Place from October 30 – November 2, 2014.

Buntin will make a stop in Kelowna this weekend leading up to the event. He will be available for media interviews on Friday, September 19 and will attend the Kelowna Rockets home opener on Saturday, September 20. Buntin has special ties to the team; he was the original ‘Rocky’ the Kelowna Rockets mascot.

“Hosting Skate Canada International is a huge milestone for figure skating in Kelowna and I am both honoured and proud to be a part of it. The last time it was held in the Okanagan, I was a teenager with big dreams and watching the event was an early step in what would become an unbelievable journey. It will be inspiring to see that same spark in the eyes of Kelowna’s next generation of athletes as the best skaters in the world take to the ice in October,” said Buntin.

Buntin is a three-time Canadian Pair Champion, first finding success with partner Valérie Marcoux. Together they won three Canadian pair titles from 2004-2006 and competed at the 2006 Olympic Winter Games in Torino, Italy.  In 2007 he teamed up with Meagan Duhamel.  At their first world championships in 2008 they placed 6th and landed on the podium three times at the national championships.

Since retiring from skating in 2010 Buntin has completed an MBA at McGill University and worked as an entrepreneur. His most recent project is VeriSkate, a software app that is used to analyze the movements of figure skaters: how high they jump or throw, the distance the move travels, the speed at which it travels, the flow, the ice coverage.

Over the course of the four-day event Buntin will step into the role of athlete ambassador, handling speaking engagements, media interviews, making appearances on behalf of the competing athletes, and making time for his fans.

TICKETS

Tickets are on sale now! The single event ticket prices range from $15-$60, plus applicable surcharges. Children under 12 are free on Thursday for practice sessions. Tickets may be purchased online at www.selectyourtickets.com, by phone at 250.762.5050 or in person at the Prospera Place Box Office.

WHO TO WATCH

Headlining the field in Kelowna are four members of the Canadian 2014 Olympic silver medal team: Kevin Reynolds; Meagan Duhamel; Eric Radford; and Kirsten Moore-Towers.

Joining them will be Canada’s reigning world silver medalists in ice dance, Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje, along with a number of world-class skaters including Spain’s Javier Fernandez, USA’s Ashley Wagner, Japan’s Takahiko Kozuka and many other Olympic and world competitors.

EVENT INFO

Skate Canada International is the second competition in the annual ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating® series. The other events take place in the United States (Skate America), China (Cup of China), France (Trophée Eric Bompard), Russia (Rostelecom Cup) and Japan (NHK Trophy). Skaters are awarded points based on their placements in the series’ events.

At the conclusion of all the events, the top-six men and ladies and the top-six pair and ice dance teams qualify for the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final to be held in Barcelona, Spain from December 11-13, 2014.

Joannie Rochette named Athlete Ambassador for 100th anniversary 2014 Canadian Tire National Skating Championships

OTTAWA, ON: Olympic Bronze Medalist  and six-time Canadian Champion Joannie Rochette has been named the Athlete Ambassador for the upcoming 2014 Canadian Tire National Skating Championships in Ottawa, Ontario. The event will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Canadian Championships at the Canadian Tire Centre from January 9-15, 2014.  The very first event was also held in Ottawa in 1914.

Rochette, from Île Dupas, Quebec, represented CPA Berthierville, and won the first of her six consecutive Canadian titles in 2005. She defended it every year through to her 2010 title.  Later that year, she won the bronze medal in ladies at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver with an emotional performance in the short and free programs. The decorated skater competed in seven world championships, and won the silver medal at the 2009 ISU World Figure Skating Championships in Los Angeles.

“I am so honoured to be the Athlete Ambassador for this year’s Canadian Tire National Skating Championships in Ottawa. This will be such a special event, and I am proud to represent all the many amazing athletes over 100 years of champions,” said Rochette.  “I look forward to encouraging all of the skaters, and to be with them in Ottawa. I have competed there for the 2006 Canadian championships and I know that the fans are tremendous and will support all of the athletes and cheer them on to amazing performances.”

As the Athlete Ambassador, Rochette will participate in promotion, ceremonies, media interviews, receptions, autograph sessions and in-venue entertainment.

The announcement was made to over 65 young skaters at the Canadian Tire Centre for the flower retriever auditions and ceremony participants for the championships.

“It is wonderful to have one of our decorated Canadian champions and alumni member to serve as our Athlete Ambassador at these upcoming championships,” said Dan Thompson CEO, Skate Canada. “She continues to inspire young skaters in Canada to pursue their dreams, and is able to relate to the many emotions and experiences the athletes are going through as they compete to represent Canada at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games. We are pleased to have Joannie stay involved with our sport and to be a special part of this event.”

All-event ticket packages for both the senior and junior/novice events are on sale online at www.capitaltickets.ca, by phone at 1.877.788.FANS (3267) or 613.599.FANS (3267), or in person at the Canadian Tire Centre box office.

Single event tickets will be on-sale on Thursday, November 14th.

 

Skater, Olympian, Artist, Choreographer, Coach, Ambassador… Who is Shawn Sawyer?

So now that Shawn Sawyer has been chosen as the athlete ambassador for the 2013 Skate Canada International Grand Prix in Saint John, N.B., (appropriately enough, in his home province) what does it mean?

The 28-year-old artist (on and off the ice) is, according to dictionary’s best efforts, a diplomatic agent of the highest rank, a plenipotentiary (which sounds very important), an internuncio (it always sounds better in Italian), or an apostolic delegate, a chancellor at this important pre-Olympic contest.

Never mind that Sawyer has never been a Canadian champion, has never won an ISU Grand Prix event and didn’t make it to the Vancouver Olympics. He’s never really played the understudy, what with his incomparable flair:  the incredible stretch of his legs, his flexibility beyond compare, his chameleon-like nature to portray anything on ice, his spins, his spirals, his art.
That’s what Canadian icon, Toller Cranston, spotted when he chose Sawyer to portray himself as a young skater at his tribute show in 1997, when Sawyer was an unknown 12-year-old kid from Edmundston, N.B., a paper mill town.

‘‘“Toller wasn’t a part of my past, or my present or my future at the time,” Sawyer said. “He wasn’t part of anything, and didn’t talk much to me. But he was part of me. He got who I was and who I was going to become. He just knew. And I knew that he knew. He’s a kind of person that has had a huge impact on my life without having to be there, without having to hold my hand the entire time.”

During his skating career, Sawyer was novice and junior champion in Canada, sixth at a world junior championship, three times a bronze medalist at the Canadian championships, and at his final national championships, a spine-tingling second with an inspired free skate as the Mad Hatter to the Alice in Wonderland soundtrack. He once finished third in a short program at a Cup of Russia to Evgeny Plushenko and he earned a silver medal at the 2009 Skate America behind Evan Lysacek.

“The person that is most surprised about my career is myself,” Sawyer said. “I can’t believe I actually made it to the Olympics Games, and I can’t believe I have a spin named after me [it’s the one where he raises his leg up beside his head in a straight-line, full split position.].” He was always flexible, but he’s more flexible now than ever. He’s worked at it. “Let’s say I show up at an international championship with a Michelle Kwan spiral,” he said. “I can’t show up the next year and have a normal spiral. I have to move up to a Sasha Cohen spiral.” Few men do spirals.

Sawyer has made a career out of that incredible stretch, but now he’s making a career on Stars on Ice with his concepts. People have come to expect him to emerge from the curtains “with something a little bit out of the box,” he said, and the tour indulges his abilities. “Every year, they give me a blank piece of canvas,” he said. “They say they trust me, just don’t go too crazy.”
His signature pieces as an Olympic-eligible competitor were both David Wilson masterpieces of choreography and perfect for Sawyer: his complex Amadeus routine that he used for two seasons and then, Danny Elfman’s Alice In Wonderland.

Playing the Mad Hatter holds a special place in Sawyer’s heart and in Canadian championship folk lore. Sawyer had quit skating, having missed the Vancouver Olympics. “I didn’t want to have anything to do with skating,” he said. Then one day, he saw a photo of Johnny Depp in full costume as the Mad Hatter, red crazy hair and rings for eyes, quite off the wall, really.  The photo had an immediate impact. “Oh no, no, don’t see the movie. Don’t listen to the music,” Sawyer told himself.

The next day, he watched the movie and bought the CD. Then, he started to cut the music. He called up his coach, Annie Barabé and told her: “Guess what? I’m coming back!”

His Mad Hatter routine that he performed at the 2011 Canadian championships was one for the ages. He skated as if inspired.

“I have no words to describe it,” he said. “I don’t know where that came out of me.”

A standing ovation ensued. Strangely enough, Sawyer doesn’t remember skating it. He only remembers feeling as if he was going to faint five minutes before he went onto the ice. He could hardly walk.

That performance qualified him for the world championships, although he eventually gave up his spot after delays from the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan. He already had commitments with Stars on Ice, which started about the same time. But in retrospective, he ranks that performance ahead of his Olympic appearance. “It wasn’t about what I was going to get out of it,” he explained. “It was just me, pouring my heart out.”

He does this in other ways, too. Off the ice, he’s an artist, too. From his childhood, he’s always sketched. About five years ago, he discovered something important. He hadn’t really liked art class. “I thought I was painting with a broom,” he said. “It was really hard for me to do details.”
Then he began to see that details weren’t important. He was already steeped in exacting skating detail through the day. His art was to be different. Now he feels a balance in his life by tossing red wine and coffee onto canvases.

“They are my two favourite things in the world,” he said. “Obviously, they stain everything I own.” He’s amazed at the variety of colours he can produce out of those two media; he even extracted a peacock blue-green from a 30 cent bottle of wine he once bought in Paris. He paints mostly female heads, necks, crazy hair. Think Lady Gaga, with an extra explosion. He’s ready to do an art exhibition, if only he had time. Currently, Sawyer spends a lot of time on the road, touring, coaching and handing on the gifts of choreography that he’s learned from some of the best.

“I wouldn’t recommend that path I chose to get where I am right now,” he said. “But looking back, I wouldn’t change anything.  It’s all about perseverance and overcoming obstacles. Whatever you want to achieve in life, there are always obstacles.”

Beverley Smith

Olympian Shawn Sawyer named Athlete Ambassador for the 2013 Skate Canada International

OTTAWA, ON: Skate Canada is pleased to announce that New Brunswick native Shawn Sawyer, 28, of Edmundston, N.B., will be the Athlete Ambassador for the upcoming 2013 Skate Canada International event, taking place at the Harbour Station in Saint John, N.B., from October 25-27, 2013.

Sawyer has been catching Canadians’ attention for years with his talent to easily entertain crowds and bring them to their feet, while combining technical skills for a rounded performance. In Saint John he will take on the role of athlete ambassador, handling speaking engagements, media interviews, making appearances on behalf of the competing athletes, and making time for his fans.

In addition to his position as athlete ambassador, Sawyer will also be choreographing and skating in the exhibition gala taking place at the finale of the event on Sunday, October 27, 2013.

“The role of athlete ambassador at our events is a way for us to engage our alumni and also relieve some of the pressure for the competing athletes. Shawn has been a tremendous representative for our sport through his talents on the ice and now through his active role as an alumni,” said Dan Thompson, Skate Canada CEO.

Sawyer is a seven-time national team member and internationally has competed at 14 Grand Prix events, four ISU Four Continents Figure Skating Championships, the 2006 ISU World Figure Skating Championships and the 2006 Olympic Winter Games.

Today the 2006 Olympian performs in many shows around the world each year, while also working as a coach and choreographer.

Tickets are still available and can be purchased online at www.harbourstation.ca, by phone at 506.657.1234 or toll free in NB, NS, PE and ME at 1.800.267.2800, or in person at the Harbour Station Box Office.