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Lajoie and Lagha Seventh Against Stellar Field at Finlandia Trophy

ESPOO, Finland – Canadian ice dancers Marjorie Lajoie and Zachary Lagha maintained their seventh-place position after Sunday’s free dance to conclude the Finlandia Trophy figure skating competition, the fourth stop on the ISU Challenger Series.

Four-time world champions Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France took the gold with 217.54 points. Defending champions Madison Chock and Evan Bates of the U.S. followed at 208.31 and Lilah Fear and Lewis Gibson of Britain were third at 190.39.

Lajoie and Lagha, the 2019 world junior champions, ranked seventh in both programs this week finishing with 181.03. They were fourth in their season debut at the Autumn Classic International last month in Pierrefonds, Que.

‘’We were really nervous,’’ said Lagha, 22, from St-Hubert, Que. ‘’It was a good accomplishment to get through a performance like that.’’

The couple had firm objectives for this event.

‘’Every little element there was a stress for us,’’ added Lajoie, 20, from Boucherville, Que. ‘’We wanted to make sure we successfully check marked each of the sections in our program.  In the end we were quite happy about it.’’

Carolane Soucisse of Chateauguay, Que., and Shane Firus of North Vancouver climbed three spots after the rhythm dance to place 11th.

‘’We are super happy with free dance, it went as planned,’’ said Soucisse. ‘’We were confident going in. There’s some work to do on the rhythm dance but the programs are taking form and trending in the right direction.’’

The couple was delighted to perform before spectators.

‘’It was great to be in front of a crowd again and they really carried us through our free dance,’’ said Firus, fifth with his partner at the Autumn Classic International. 

In women’s competition, Madeline Schizas of Oakville, Ont., brought a huge cheer from the crowd with her eighth-ranked free skate to jump from 12th after the short program to ninth overall. The 18-year-old produced a clean program which opened with a triple Lutz-triple toe and included two other combos as well as the double Axel.

Russia was 1-2-3 with Kamila Valieva, the 2019 Junior Grand Prix Final champion earning the gold.

‘’I was really happy with my performance today,’’ said Schizas, 13th at the world championships this past March. ‘’I came here to put out my tech content some of which is new for this season.’’

Full results: http://www.figureskatingresults.fi/results/2122/CSFIN2021/index.htm

TEN CANADIAN SKATERS HEADED TO FINLAND FOR FINLANDIA TROPHY

OTTAWA, ON: Skate Canada will have six entries, for a total of ten skaters competing at the 2021 Finlandia Trophy in Espoo, Finland this week. Canada will have one entry in men, one entry in women, two entries in pairs and two entries in ice dance. This event is the fourth stop of the 2021 ISU Challenger Series and takes place from October 7 to 10, 2021.

Keegan Messing, 29, Girdwood, Alaska, USA, will be the lone Canadian entry in men. Last season, Messing finished sixth at the ISU World Figure Skating Championships® 2021 and brought home bronze at Skate America. He is coached by Ralph Burghart in Anchorage, Alaska, USA.

Madeline Schizas, 18, Oakville, Ont., will be the only Canadian entry in women. Last season Schizas finished first at the Skate Canada Challenge and thirteenth at the ISU World Figure Skating Championships® 2021. She is coached by Nancy Lemaire and Derek Schmidt in Milton, Ont.

National pairs team, Kirsten Moore-Towers, 29, St. Catharines, Ont., and Michael Marinaro, 29, Sarnia, Ont., will be the first of two Canadian entries in pairs. Last season they finished sixth at the ISU World Figure Skating Championships® 2021. They are coached by Bruno Marcotte, Alison Purkiss and Brian Shales in Oakville, Ont.

National pairs team, Vanessa James, 34, Scarborough, Ont., and Eric Radford, 36, Balmertown, Ont., will be the second Canadian entry in pairs. They finished second at the 2021 Autumn Classic International. This is their first season competing together internationally. They are coached by Julie Marcotte in Montreal, Que.

Marjorie Lajoie, 20, Boucherville, Que., and Zachary Lagha, 22, Saint-Hubert, Que., will be the first ice dance entry representing Canada. Lajoie and Lagha are the 2020 Canadian Silver Ice Dance Medalists and most recently placed fourth at the 2021 Autumn Classic International. They are coached by Marie-France Dubreuil, Patrice Lauzon, Romain Haguenauer, Pascal Denis and Josée Piche in Montreal, Que.

Carolane Soucisse, 26, Châteauguay, Que., and Shane Firus, 27, North Vancouver, BC., will be the second Canadian entry in ice dance. In 2020, they finished third in the Canadian Tire National Skating Championships and most recently finished fifth at the 2021 Autumn Classic International They are coached by Carol Lane and Juris Razgulajevs in Toronto, Ont.

Mike Slipchuk, Skate Canada High Performance Director will be the team leader and Dr. Shae Zukiwsky, Senior Director, Performance Excellence will be the team official at the event. Physiotherapist Pat Stanziano, Oakville, Ont., will be the Canadian medical staff onsite. Beth Crane, Burnaby, B.C., and Janice Hunter, Vancouver, B.C., will be the Canadian judges attending the event.

For more information, please visit www.isu.org.

CANADIAN ENTRIES AT ISU CS FINLANDIA TROPHY – ESPOO, FINLAND

MEN
Keegan Messing (29) / Girdwood, Alaska / Ice Palace FSC / Coached by Ralph Burghart

WOMEN
Madeline Schizas (18) / Oakville, Ont. / Milton SC / Coached by Nancy Lemaire and Derek Schmidt

PAIRS
Kirsten Moore-Towers (29) and Michael Marinaro (29) / St. Catharines, Ont., and Sarnia, Ont. / Skate Oakville / Coached by BrunoMarcotte, Alison Purkiss and Brian Shales

Vanessa James (34) and Eric Radford (36) / Scarborough, Ont., and Balmertown, Ont. / EPJM and C.P.A. Saint Leonard / Coached by Julie Marcotte

ICE DANCE
Marjorie Lajoie (20) and Zachary Lagha (22) / Boucherville, Que. and Saint-Hubert, Que. / CPA Boucherville and CPA Saint Lambert / Coached by: Marie-France Dubreuil, Patrice Lauzon, Romain Haguenauer, Pascal Denis and Josée Piche

Carolane Soucisse (26) and Shane Firus (27) / Châteauguay, Que. and North Vancouver, BC. / CPA Repentigny / Coached by Carol Lane and Juris Razgulajevs

Madeline Schizas looking forward to international debut at ISU World Figure Skating Championships

If Madeline Schizas is feeling starstruck as she prepares to step under the bright lights of the ISU World Figure Skating Championships for the first time, she hides it well.

Set to make her debut on the biggest stage in skating next week – in the midst of a global pandemic, no less – the 18-year-old from Oakville, Ont. can’t wait to dip her foot into the sport’s international waters for the first time.

Given the events of the past year, Schizas’s journey to Stockholm has been far from conventional, but she can’t contain her enthusiasm as she gets ready to proudly represent Canada when the ladies short program kicks off the competition Wednesday.

“I think everyone follows their own path, and this was just mine,” said the 2020 Canadian women’s bronze medallist on a conference call before departing for Sweden. “I think that I’m going into this event with a lot of confidence, even without having a lot of international experience. It’s really special to me that I’m getting to compete at Worlds, and I’m excited for the experience.”

It should be an experience unlike any other, on every level.

For most of team Canada, comprised of eight entries and 13 skaters, these world championships will be their first taste of international competition in well over a year. Only Keegan Messing, who holds dual citizenship and lives in Alaska while representing Canada internationally, competed on the ISU Grand Prix circuit this past season, earning bronze at Skate America in October.

Two months ago, Schizas, along with most of her teammates competing in Sweden, were able to get a taste of competition at Skate Canada Challenge, a virtual event where athletes had their performances recorded at their training rinks several weeks before being judged in real time during the event.

Schizas claimed her second straight senior women’s gold medal at Challenge and is hoping to ride that wave of momentum into Sweden.

“My training’s going really well, I feel really well prepared for this event, despite all the crazy things happening right now,” Schizas adds. “My coaches think that I’m probably in the best shape I’ve been in in my entire career.”

Schizas and reigning Canadian women’s champion Emily Bausback will represent Canada in the women’s competition at the world championships.

After the first wave of the pandemic subsided and the Ontario lockdown ended late last spring, Schizas returned to train at Milton Skating Club, her home club, from June through December.

As Ontario entered another lockdown phase just after Christmas, her home club shut its doors temporarily. With limited training options due to lockdown restrictions, Schizas, and coaches Nancy Lemaire and Derek Schmidt, went in search of ice time. They found temporary training refuge at rinks in Hamilton and Richmond Hill before Schizas returned to Milton shortly after Ontario’s latest stay-at-home order was lifted in February.

As she prepared for the world championships, Schizas admitted she was happy to have returned to a sense of normal.

Whatever normal is these days.

“For me, it was about getting back on a schedule, and knowing when I was going to skate, knowing where I was going to skate, and knowing when I was going to go to the gym,” she says.

And now, Schizas’s dream of representing Canada at the world championships has arrived. She is trying to erase all the background noise from the past year and isn’t putting too much pressure on herself. These world championships will determine how many spots Canada earns for next year’s Olympic Winter Games, but Schizas isn’t concerning herself on what-ifs.

“For me, a successful world championship would be skating personal best programs, which is something I really think I can do,” she adds. “That will get us however many spots we get (for the Olympics). That part is not in my hands, and that is what I’m trying to remind myself. I know I can skate consistent programs, and that is what I’m focused on.”

Schizas is doing her best to make sure the moment doesn’t get too big for her. She isn’t sure of what to expect from these world championships, but she knows she isn’t the only one facing that uncertainty.

“I’ve spoken with a lot of skaters who have competed at Worlds before, and the thing that they’ve all told me is this year is going to be different for everybody,” she says.

The women’s short program in Sweden is set to kick off Wednesday, March 24. For the full schedule and list of entries, please click here.