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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

Gilles and Poirier Open International Season with Victory at Autumn Classic International

PIERREFONDS, Que. – Ice dancers Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier of Toronto opened their international season Saturday with a victory to conclude the Autumn Classic International figure skating competition.

The world championship bronze medallists earned 208.97 points for top spot with Olivia Smart and Adrian Diaz of Spain second at 191.31 and Caroline Green and Michael Parsons of the U.S. third at 188.43.

‘’We’re very pleased with the way both programs went,’’ said Poirier. ‘’We didn’t try to force things or have that perfect skate. We just want to get everything sharper and we’re really excited to deliver such a strong showing and show that we keep improving.’’

Marjorie Lajoie of Boucherville, Que., and Zachary Lagha of St-Hubert, Que., the 2019 world junior champions, totalled 181.74 for fourth.

‘’We’re really happy with the free dance and we didn’t hold back,’’ said Lagha. ‘’During the off season we really worked on our skating skills and made some needed changes to our programs.’’

Carolane Soucisse of Chateauguay, Que., and Shane Firus of North Vancouver were fifth and Haley Sales of Kelowna, B.C., and Nikolas Wamsteeker of Langley, B.C. took sixth.

In an all-Canadian men’s event, Conrad Orzel of Woodbridge, Ont., took the gold with 207.31 points, Bennet Toman of Brampton, Ont., was second at 172.33 and Beres Clements of Gibson, B.C., third at 153.48.

After landing two quads in the short on Friday, Orzel couldn’t execute them cleanly in the free skate and he also fell on one of his triple Axels.

‘’There’s some good takeaways from this competition despite a really bad long,’’ said Orzel, 21, sixth at this event in 2019. ‘’There’s no way of sugar coating it, it was not what I had been showing in practice. But it helps me re-evaluate how I should prepare when I compete.’’

Besides Saturday’s four medals, Canada also won a silver in pairs with Vanessa James and Eric Radford on Friday.

Full results: https://results.skatecanada.ca/2021ACI/

Breaking The Ice: Marjorie Lajoie & Zachary Lagha

Lajoie and Lagha win gold at ISU Junior Grand Prix

RICHMOND, B.C. – Marjorie Lajoie of Boucherville, Que., and Zachary Lagha of Greenfield Park, Que., won the gold medal Friday in ice dancing at the fourth top on the ISU Junior Grand Prix figure skating circuit.

The couple posted a personal best 166.52 points for the victory. Russian couples followed with Polina Ivanenko and Daniil Karpov second at 149.39 and Ksenia Konkina and Alexander Vakhnov third at 147.92.

Lajoie and Lagha earned silver two weeks ago at the second stop in Linz, Austria.

‘’We made a few changes since the last junior Grand Prix and it has already paid off,’’ said Lagha. ‘’The beginning could have been a little bit better. But after the spin we just calmed down.’’

Natalie D’Alessandro and Bruce Waddell of Toronto were sixth and Miku Makita of Anmore, B.C., and Tyler Gunara of Burnaby, B.C. were eighth.

‘’We are continuing to build with these junior Grand Prix experiences,’’ said D’Alessandro. ‘’We were quite nervous but we were able to turn those nerves into really good energy.’’

‘’We were very excited with how we skated today although we were nervous,’’ said Makita. ”It was a whole new experience for us.’’

Russia was 1-2 in women’s competition. Anna Shcherbakova took the gold and Anastasia Tarakanova the silver. Rion Sumiyoshi of Japan was third.

Sarah Maude-Blanchard of Sherbrooke, Que., was ninth, Hannah Dawson of Vankleek Hill, Ont., 10th and Alison Schumacher of Tecumseh, Ont., 12th.

‘’It was definitely a learning experience after coming back from a disappointing short program,’’ said Schumacher. ‘’I really had to dig deep today for the free and trust my training. I was really glad I persevered and fought through it.’’

Russian couples are 1-2-3 after the pairs short program. Patricia Andrew of London,Ont. and Paxton Fletcher of Rodney, Ont., are seventh, Chloe Panetta of Laval, Que., and Benjamin Mimar of Terrebonne, Que., eighth and Camille Perreault of Orford, Que., and Bryan Pierro of St-Hubert, Que., are 10th.

In Thursday’s men’s short program, Ilya Kovler of Richmond Hill, Ont., stands third with 72.16. Tomoki Hiwatashi of the U.S. leads at 76.81 and Yuma Kagiyama of Japan second at 75.60.

Thirteen-year-old Stephen Gogolev of Toronto is seventh and Beres Clements of Richmond, B.C. ninth.

The men’s and pairs free skates are on Saturday.

Full results: ISU JGP Canada 2018

Lajoie and Lagha fourth in close ice dance competition at world juniors

SOFIA, Bulgaria – Marjorie Lajoie of Boucherville, Que., and Zachary Lagha of Greenfield Park, Que., placed fourth Friday in ice dancing at the ISU World Junior Figure Skating Championships.

Lajoie and Lagha were second after Wednesday’s short dance. They delivered the fifth best free dance and missed the podium by a mere 0.66 points.

‘’We did everything we could and we skated well,’’ said Lagha. ‘’The performance caps a strong season for us in which we really improved technically.’’

Anastasia Skoptcova and Kirill Aleshin of Russia won the gold medal with 155.15 points. Christina Carreira and Anthony Ponomarenko of the U.S. were second at 147.68 and Arina Ushakova and Maxim Nekrasov of Russia were third at 146.88.

Lajoie and Lagha followed at 146.22. Less than two points separated second from fifth.

‘’The free dance went super well for us,’’ said Lajoie. ‘’We were in the moment and managed the stress. We achieved our goal by being in the mix for a spot on the podium.’’

Olivia McIsaac of Burlington, Ont., and Elliott Graham of Angus, Ont., were 12th.

‘’Regardless of the small mistakes it was a really good experience,’’ said McIsaac.

In women’s competition, Russia is 1-2 after the short program with Alexandra Trusova in first place and Alena Kostornaia second.

Fifteen-year-old Aurora Cotop of Toronto is in 21st place.

‘’This past season has been inconsistent for me,’’ said Cotop. ‘But today I felt I came close to representing the program the way I wanted. For the long I want to get in that zone that I have in training.’’

Competition ends Saturday with the men’s and women’s free skates.

Full results: ISU World Junior Figure Skating Championships 2018

Three medals for Canada at ISU Grand Prix Final

NAGOYA, Japan – Canadians won three medals on Saturday at the ISU Grand Prix Final, the last major international figure skating event before the Olympic Winter Games in February.

Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir took the silver in ice dancing while Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford added a bronze in pairs and Kaetlyn Osmond was also third in women’s competition.

In ice dancing, Virtue and Moir lost for the first time since their return to competition last season.

Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France won the gold with 202.16 points. Virtue and Moir followed at 199.86 and Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani of the U.S. were third at 188.00.

‘’We made a couple of uncharacteristic glitches that we don’t even make in training that often,’’ said Moir, from Ilderton, Ont. ‘’We don’t like not winning competitions but in the grand scheme of things it was still a performance we were proud of.’’

The three-time world champions are pleased with their progress towards the Olympics.

‘’We’re on track,’’ said Virtue, from London, Ont. ‘’We’ve had an extremely successful season and we just have to continue taking care of the little details and making the tweaks so our programs are at their best come February.’’

In women’s competition, Osmond made a couple of mistakes in her Black Swan skate including a fall on her triple Salchow to drop from first after the short program to third with 215.16 points.

‘’The mistakes that I made were silly ones and they won’t happen again,’’ said Osmond, from Marystown, N.L. ‘’I made a lot of changes to my program since my last competition and I did those well.’’

It was a 1-2 Russian finish with Alina Zagitova first at 223.30 and Maria Sotskova second at 216.28.

In pairs, it was a comeback medal for Duhamel and Radford who climbed from fifth place after the short program to the medal position earning 210.83. Aljona Savchenko and Bruno Massot of Germany were first at 236.68 and world champions Wenjing Sui and Cong Han second at 230.89.

‘’We took a nice step here and continued to build,’’ said Radford. ‘’We want to take another step up at the national championships (in January) get some more levels and hit that big peak at the Olympic Games.’’

In junior ice dancing, Marjorie Lajoie of Boucherville, Que., and Zachary Lagha of Greenfield Park, Que., were sixth.

‘’It was a nice experience,’’ said Lagha. ‘’It was cool to skate at a big event like that.’’

Full results: Grand Prix Final 2017 Senior and Junior

Lajoie and Lagha triumph at ISU Junior Grand Prix

ZAGREB, Croatia – Marjorie Lajoie of Boucherville, Que., and Zachary Lagha of Greenfield Park, Que., staved off two Russian couples to win the gold medal Saturday in ice dancing at the fifth stop on the ISU Junior Grand Prix circuit.

The Canadians bettered their score from their sixth place finish at the world juniors last year with 150.30 points. Sofia Shevchenko and Igor Eremenko of Russia were second at 145.05 and their compatriots Ksenia Konkina and Grigory Yakushev were third at 143.77.

‘’We just had a super experience overall this week,’’ said Lajoie. ‘’Everything from the practices to the performances went very well.’’

It was a first victory and third medal in five junior Grand Prix career appearances for Lajoie and Lagha. They won silver at the season opening event in Australia and are now qualified for the Grand Prix Final in December.

‘’Our plan here was just to skate for ourselves and not focus on the results,’’ added Lagha. ‘’We went out there to have fun and that’s what worked. For the lead up to the Final our focus will be on the technical aspects and bringing the program to another level.’’

Ellie Fisher of Lower Coverdale, N.B., and Simon-Pierre Mallette-Paque of Laval, Que., moved from sixth after the short dance to fifth.

‘’It’s a satisfying result but not exactly what we wanted,’’ said Mallette-Paque. ‘’We will continue to build on that.’’

It was a first international experience for the couple.

‘Representing Canada was pretty cool,’’ said Fisher.

It was Canada’s second medal of the competition. On Friday Joseph Phan of Laval, Que., took the silver in men’s competition.

Full results: ISU JGP Croatia Cup 2017

Canadian ice dancers win silver at ISU Junior Grand Prix

BRISBANE, Australia – Marjorie Lajoie of Boucherville, Que., and Zachary Lagha of Greenfield Park, Que., won the silver medal in ice dancing on Saturday to conclude the first stop on the ISU Junior Grand Prix figure skating circuit.

Sofia Polishchuk and Alexander Vakhnov of Russia took the gold with 145.86 points followed by the Canadians at 138.92. Elizaveta Khudaiberdieva and Nikita Nazarov of Russia were third at 131.80.

‘’It was stressful,’’ said Lajoie. ‘’But we are happy with what we accomplished. We’ve never competed at a Grand Prix this early in the season, so considering the circumstances, it’s good.’’

It was the best Junior Grand Prix performance in four career appearances for the couple, sixth at last season’s world junior championships.

‘’When you start focusing on results, it never works,’’ added Lagha. ‘’We just wanted to do well and build from here because we know we can do better.’’

Natalie d’Alessandro and Bruce Waddell of Toronto were sixth in their junior Grand Prix debut.

‘’For us it was about the experience,’’ said Waddell. ‘’Just go out there and have fun. But competing internationally, we were more nervous than usual.’’

In women’s competition, Canadian junior champion Aurora Cotop of Toronto climbed from ninth to seventh overall producing the sixth best free skate of the day.

The second stop on the circuit is next Friday and Saturday in Salzburg, Austria.

Full results: ISU JGP Brisbane 2017

Lajoie and Lagha reach new heights at ISU World Juniors

TAIPEI CITY – Marjorie Lajoie of Boucherville, Que., and Zachary Lagha of Greenfield Park, Que., showed a giant improvement from one year ago in their sixth place finish in ice dancing on Saturday to conclude the ISU World Junior Figure Skating Championships.

Rachel Parsons and Michael Parsons of the U.S. won the gold medal with 164.83 points, Alla Loboda and Pavel Drozd of Russia were second at 164.37 and Christina Carreira and Anthony Ponomarenko of the U.S. were third at 154.68.

Lajoie and Lagha, fifth after the short dance on Thursday, earned a personal best 148.26. They improved from a 13th place finish last year.

‘’It was something special to warm up with the final group of skaters and we felt we did our job,’’ said Lagha. ‘’We wanted to show that we deserved to be among the top teams.’’

‘’We are super happy, we really managed our stress levels and produced a strong skate,’’ added Lajoie.

Ashlynne Stairs of Calgary and Lee Royer of St. Albert, Alta., were 14th.

‘’Our technical scores weren’t what we wanted them to be,’’ said Stairs. ‘’So that’s something we really want to improve upon. We got a great idea this week of what we need to strive for in the future.’’

‘’The biggest improvement we need to make is on our turns and our flow on the ice,’’ added Royer. ‘’The best teams here were a lot faster.’’

In women’s competition, Alina Zagitova of Russia won the gold ahead of Japanese skaters Marin Honda in second and Kaori Sakamoto in third.

Sarah Tamura of Burnaby, B.C. gained two spots in the standings for 17th place.

‘’It definitely wasn’t my best but I’ll take this experience and learn from it,’’ said Tamura. ‘’To compete against the best in the world, you can’t make any mistakes in your program.’’

Canada was shutout of the medals at the world juniors this week. The best result was a fifth place finish for Evelyn Walsh of London, Ont., and Trennt Michaud of Strathroy, Ont., in pairs on Friday.

‘’Our long program is our absolute favorite,’’ said Michaud, who joined forces with his partner less than a year ago. ‘’Even in training we enjoy showing it off so we just wanted to do the same here. We were really calm and relied on each other the entire time.’’

‘’We’ve been in a fast lane learning curve and it’s been super fun,’’ added Walsh.

Full results: http://www.isuresults.com/results/season1617/wjc2017/index.htm

Canadians win four more medals at Bavarian Open

OBERTSDORF, Germany – Canada finished 1-2 in junior pairs competition to cap a four-medal performance on Sunday at the Bavarian Open figure skating competition.

Evelyn Walsh of London, Ont., and Trennt Michaud of Strathroy, Ont., took the junior pairs gold with 155.20 points. They edged Lori-Ann Matte and Thierry Ferland of Levis, Que., silver medallists with 151.85. Alexandria Yao and Austin Hale of the U.S. were third at 139.80.

In ice dancing, Ekaterina Kuznetsova and Dmitri Parkhomenko of Russia narrowly won gold with 141.22. Marjorie Lajoie of Boucherville, Que., and Zachary Lagha of Greenfield Park, Que., were a mere 0.02 points back for silver at 141.20 while Ashlynne Stairs of Calgary and Lee Royer of St.Albert, Alta., third at 136.20.

Canada earned 11 medals at the event.

On Saturday, Nicolas Nadeau of Boisbriand, Que., Conrad Orzel of Woodbridge, Ont., and Joseph Phan of Laval, Que., finished 1-2-3 in junior men’s competition while Sarah Tamura of Burnaby, B.C., won the women’s junior II event. Stephen Gogolev of Toronto took gold in men’s novice.

The competition featured Canada’s team for the world junior championships next month.

Full results: Bavarian Open 2017

Lajoie and Lagha win first junior title at 2017 Canadian Tire National Skating Championships

OTTAWA – Marjorie Lajoie of Boucherville, Que., and Zachary Lagha of Greenfield Park, Que., won the junior ice dance title on Tuesday at the 2017 Canadian Tire National Skating Championships being held this week at TD Place.

Lajoie and Lagha totalled 153.55 points with Ashlynne Stairs of Calgary and Lee Royer of St. Albert, Alta., second at 139.63 and Danielle Wu and Nik Mirzakhani of Burnaby, B.C., third at 133.98.

‘’This is a great accomplishment for us,’’ said Lajoie, who competed at the world junior championships last winter with her partner. ‘’We are super happy.’’

The couple, runners-up last year, are in their sixth season together.

‘’So far we’ve accomplished a lot in our career and we want to keep that progress going,’’ said Lagha.

Corey Circelli, Catherine Carle and ice dancers Natalie D’Alessandro and Bruce Waddell all won novice titles on Tuesday

In men’s competition, Circelli, of Toronto, took the gold with 139.27 points. Dawson Nodwell of Calgary was second at 132.67 and Alistair Lam of Hamilton, Ont., was third at 127.75.

‘’It feels amazing to get the gold,’’ said Circelli, who also competed in the ice dancing event. ‘’I have trained so hard this year. It was very satisfying when I finished and it went so well.’’

In women’s competition, Carle, from Milton, Ont., earned 133.73 points for the victory. Emma Bulawka of Edmonton followed at 122.68 and Élodie Adsuar of Greenfield Park, Que., was third at 119.96.

‘’It feels good because all my hard work has paid off,’’ said Carle, the pre-novice national champion last year. ‘’I kept calm and kept training hard this season.’’

In ice dancing, D’Alessandro and Waddell, of Toronto, totalled 90.49 for top spot. Jade McCue and Gabriel Clemente of Brampton, Ont., had 80.48 for second and Jessica Lee-Behiel and Jackson Behiel of Calgary were third at 83.20.

‘’We had a lot of fun here,’’ said Waddell. ‘’Our goal was to win and we came out and did it.’’

The couple were pre-novice Canadian champions last winter.

‘’This season we worked a lot on our speed and going out there and having fun every day in practice,’’ added D’Alessandro.

Competition continues Wednesday with junior free skates and the novice pairs free skate. The senior competition gets underway Friday.

Full results: 2017 Canadian Tire National Skating Championships Results