Tag Archive for: Michelle Long

Behind The Blades With Michelle Long: Skate Canada International

long4Flashback to 2003, Hershey’s Center Mississauga, Skate Canada International: As an eager eleven-year-old and lover of figure skating, I was so excited when I found out there was a big skating competition coming to town. Without knowing much about the competitive side of the sport, I went with my mom, sister and a friend to attend the official practices at Skate Canada International 2003. I remember sitting in the stands, watching, in amazement. My favourite part was when the practice was over. We would rush down, over to the boards, to ask the skaters for their autograph. I was so new into the sport that I only knew a few of the skaters (mostly Canadians) but I didn’t care. I still wanted their autograph because, in my eyes, they were famous!

Skate Canada International has always had a special place in my heart. I believe that having the opportunity to watch such a high level competition, at such a young age, really inspired me to be a competitive skater! Now, attending events like this later in my skating career have definitely not hindered their magic. I still get excited to watch some of the best skaters in the world compete, but now instead of asking for their autographs, I am able to converse and learn from them.

long3One of the highlights of my weekend was actually being able to be a fan, sit back, relax and enjoy the skating! Usually, I am most interested in the ladies event, since that’s what I compete in. I have to give a shout out to both of our Canadian ladies, Kaetlyn and Alaine, for both skating fierce short and free programs. Once their event had finished, I was able to sit with Kaetlyn, chat, and watch some world class skating!

I was so impressed with the level of athleticism and performances from the Canadian team. Some of my favourite moments were Kevin’s quad-filled free program, Megan and Eric’s throw triple axel and Piper and Paul’s post free dance celebration!

long5A friend of mine made a donation to the Skate Canada Athlete Fund, and bid on an opportunity at Skate Canada International for a backstage ‘behind the scenes’ tour with Elvis Stojko. I was fortunate enough to be brought along for this amazing experience. I was shown around the dressing rooms, warm up area, data rooms and media centre. I got to see some of the skaters warm up and getting ready for the Gala on Sunday. The coolest part was seeing the press conference area. It is so much larger than what you see on television. There was a large head table for the athletes, and surrounding that were smaller tables and chairs, filled with photographers, video cameras and microphones, something I had never scene before, nor was prepared for. Elvis also had some great advice for me as someone aspiring to be at an event of this calibre one day. He spoke with me about his experiences with the media, how to prepare for interviews and how to overcome obstacles. These were all very valuable lessons that I hope to be able to put into action one day! long2

Over the course of my weekend, I was able to get out and talk to some of the fans. I also ran into some familiar faces. Many skaters from my training centre were in attendance, as well as many of the regular skating fans and veteran competition goers. It was great to hear the positive comments from the fans and to see their enthusiasm. I was also given some advice on what to bring to a competition:

1. Wear your team colours: Red and White, Go Canada Go!
2. Bring a flag: from your home town, country, or favourite skater’s country!
3. Something to keep track of the scores. A program, or good old-fashioned pen and paper work well!
4. Bundle up: sometimes those rinks can get chilly, bring along your Skate Canada sweaters, scarves and mittens!
5. Your skating stories: everyone in the audience has one, listen to someone’s story and share yours!

All-in-all, the fans were super supportive and cheered the skaters one whether they were having the performance of a lifetime, or needed some help to continue. The number of times the audience started clapping in time to the music during footwork was amazing! Everyone, young and old, found themselves immersed in the experience and were able to get involved! It was also incredible to witness the younger skaters carry the same joy as I did when I was a youngster.

The greatest feeling was being able to see the sparkle in their eyes. It’s amazing to see the next generation inspired and as excited like I was.


Behind the Blades with Michelle Long: Autumn Classic International 2016

On any given day, I am a pretty emotional person. But when I stood out on the ice, took off my team Canada jacket, and heard the announcer call “from Canada, Michelle Long”, I couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed with emotions: pride, anticipation, and pure joy. With only 30 seconds to hit my beginning pose, I had to focus on the short program, at my first international event, representing Canada.

This experience is one I have been waiting and working for, my entire career as a senior level skater. Before making it onto the ice as a National Team member, I was a skating fan, attending as many events in the area as possible, to watch the best skaters in the world. Now, I was sharing the ice with some of those skaters I have been watching for years. That was pretty cool!

michelle-pic-2Although my competition week consisted mainly of early mornings, healthy meals, naps and a little bit of skating, some very interesting things happened. After my very first official practice, as all of us skaters were exiting the ice I went to grab my team jacket – and noticed there was a spider on it. Now it doesn’t sound scary, but to someone like me who is terrified of spiders, it was! I shrieked in front of an arena full of spectators and my fellow competitors. I felt my heart racing but it was a good way to break the ice, and we all had a good laugh about it after.

Once the competition was underway, the nerves started to set in.  I am generally not a skater who gets nervous for competitions, but with the new experience in front of me, I started to feel some pressure to perform well.  Knowing that I had nothing to lose and everything to gain, I went for it and gave it my best performance.  Although these programs were not my best technically, I can take so many positives from this event, and can honestly say that I am so excited to get back to training for whatever comes next.

The highlight of my weekend came after my competition had finally ended. Since the Ladies event was the first to finish, I was able to sit back and watch, and cheer on the rest of my team! I was amazed and overwhelmed by the amount of support from the audience, my competitors, and my fellow Canadian teammates.  Since Montreal is a popular training location, many of the skaters that train in the area also came to watch and cheer on the team. So many of them took the time to talk to me about my performance, the experience, and to give me advice for the future. Those are words that I will never forget! That and, “from Canada, Michelle Long!”


Skate Canada Announces 2016-2017 National Team

OTTAWA, ON: Skate Canada is pleased to announce the 2016-2017 National Team. The team is comprised of 28 senior members, which includes five men, five women, four pair teams and five ice dance teams.

To be named to the National Team a skater must finish in the top five in senior singles, pair and ice dance disciplines at the Canadian Tire National Skating Championships, or be added at the discretion of the Skate Canada. These skaters may be considered to represent Canada at international competitions.

Their appointment to the national team is effective from June 1, 2016 through to April 30, 2017. Skate Canada also announced the three teams that will make up the Skate Canada Synchronized Skating National Team.

Patrick Chan, 25, Toronto, Ont.
Liam Firus, 23, North Vancouver, B.C.
Kevin Reynolds, 25, Coquitlam, B.C.
Nam Nguyen, 18, Toronto, Ont.
Nicolas Nadeau, 18, Boisbriand, Que.

Alaine Chartrand, 20, Prescott, Ont.
Gabrielle Daleman, 18, Newmarket, Ont.
Kaetlyn Osmond, 20, Marystown, Nfld. & Sherwood Park, Alta.
Véronik Mallet, 22, Sept-Iles, Que.
Michelle Long, 24, Newmarket, Ont.

Meagan Duhamel, 30, Lively, Ont. & Eric Radford, 31, Balmertown, Ont.
Julianne Séguin, 19, Longueuil, Que. & Charlie Bilodeau, 22, Trois-Pistoles, Que.
Lubov Ilyushechkina, 24, Moscow, Russia & Dylan Moscovitch, 31, Toronto, Ont.
Kirsten Moore-Towers, 24, St. Catharines, Ont. & Michael Marinaro, 24, Sarnia, Ont.

Kaitlyn Weaver, 27, Waterloo, Ont. & Andrew Poje, 29, Waterloo, Ont.
Piper Gilles, 24, Toronto, Ont. & Paul Poirier, 24, Unionville, Ont.
Élisabeth Paradis, 23, Loretteville, Que. & François-Xavier Ouellette, 23, Laval, Que.
Alexandra Paul, 24, Midhurst, Ont. & Mitchell Islam, 26, Barrie, Ont.
Tessa Virtue, 27, London, Ont. & Scott Moir, 28, Ilderton, Ont.

Les Suprêmes, of CPA Saint-Léonard
NEXXICE, of the Burlington Skating Centre
Meraki, of the Leaside Skating Club

Perseverance pays off as Michelle Long realizes lifelong dream in Kingston

Tears began to flow from Michelle Long’s eyes before the music even stopped.

As the 22-year-old put the finishing touches on her free program during the recent Canadian Tire National Skating Championships, Long’s emotions got the better of her, and she wept, an ear-to-ear smile etched across her face.

No, Long didn’t leave Kingston with a medal tucked away inside her suitcase.

She didn’t care. Sometimes, triumph isn’t measured in gold, silver and bronze.

By the time Richmond Training Centre stablemate Gabrielle Daleman stepped off the top step on the podium clutching her first Canadian senior women’s gold medal, Long, along with coaches Robert Burk and Danielle Rose, were long immersed in their own perfect euphoria.

“I can’t stop smiling,” Long beamed minutes after her free program in Kingston.

“This is something I have dreamed of since I was a little girl. To finally be able to make it to the Canadian championships and skate a personal best in the free skate, I am just so happy right now.”

The record book will show that Long finished seventh at her first national championships.

What it won’t show is her story.

Although she went through the CanSkate program at an early age, Long didn’t start skating competitively until she was a pre-novice 15-year-old. It’s just been the past four years that she has seriously chased her goal of competing for a national title.

“I really wanted to focus on my dream, and make it to the Canadian championships,” she says. “That was all I wanted. Nothing more.”

That rather ambitious vision seemed to hit a roadblock in December 2013, when, competing at Skate Canada Challenge, Long came achingly close to earning a berth in the 100th national championships in Ottawa, Ont.

But close wasn’t good enough. Instead of competing, she bought a ticket and travelled to the nation’s capital to watch.

That experience was a painful one, Long admits, but it also steeled her resolve.

“That was a big disappointment,” admits Long.

“That Challenge was tough to take. I wasn’t sure if I should continue or not. That was one of the toughest moments, watching those first couple of groups (in Ottawa) and knowing I should have been there.”

This past December, at Challenge in Pierrefonds, Que., she wouldn’t make the same mistake again, finishing fourth to punch her ticket to Kingston.

“She is a friend with an incredible work ethic,” says Daleman, the newly minted Canadian women’s champion.

“I couldn’t be any happier for Michelle. No one works harder than she does.”

Her unlikely story is even more astounding when you consider Long balances her training by holding down three serving/bartending jobs and part-time studies at York University. On a typical day, she is up at 7:00 a.m., and goes non-stop. By the time she leaves work, it is after 2 a.m. the next morning.

Less than five hours later, she is up to do it all again. All for the love of a sport.

“The passion she has for skating is truly a joy to see,” says Burk. “Michelle can go as far as she wants to go. With her drive, she can keep going up. We keep telling her ‘we believe in you.’ You can see it in her eyes.

”She now knows what we’ve known all along. She is good enough. Now we just have to get her there.”

“It’s special,” adds Rose. “You don’t see that very often. When someone has that much love, that much passion, you have all the time in the world for them. What we see at practice is national level. Now everyone else can see it, as well.”

Five years ago, when Skate Canada International was staged in Kingston, Long attended the event with her mother, rubbing shoulders with a few skaters during the week.

It was then she began to dream.

“Back then, I never really saw myself here,” Long concedes. “It seemed so far off, so unlikely, but I kept pushing myself.”

Five years later, she was back in Kingston. This time, she wasn’t watching from the seats.

“I’ve never skated in front of this kind of crowd before. It was just surreal. To be out here, to see it all happen, to step out in front of those TV lights….”

She pauses, choking back the tears again.

“In the end, it was bigger than I dreamed. It’s a feeling you can’t explain unless you’ve experienced it.”

The dream may have been realized, but Long insists it is just the beginning. She is asked where she envisions herself a year from now.

“On the podium,” she say, not missing a beat.

“On the national team. Why not?”

Why not, indeed.

Michelle Long doesn’t have time to concern herself with odds.

Follow Michelle Long on Twitter @TheMichelleLong