LAS VEGAS, Nevada – Basking in the glow of his bronze medal performance Saturday at Skate America, Keegan Messing had a message for his Team Canada teammates.
This one’s for you.
The charismatic Messing, who holds dual Canadian and American citizenship and proudly represents Canada on the international stage, capped off an impressive showing at the opening event of the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating season, earning 174.02 in his free program for an overall score of 266.42.
Skating on home soil, two-time world champion Nathan Chen of the U.S. cruised to the gold medal with a 299.15 total. American Vincent Zhou took the silver at 275.10.
“I am absolutely stoked to come here, put those performances out there and leave with a medal,” said Messing. “I’m on top of the world right now.”
“It’s been a tough time for everyone, but I’m really proud of him,” added Ralph Burghart, Messing’s coach. “It’s exhilarating. I’m happy we were able to put together a training regimen that got him ready for this week.
“The great thing about Keegan is he loves competing. It’s one of the many qualities I love about him. He’s an all-in guy, and today he left it all out there.”
With the 2020-21 figure skating season clouded in uncertainty due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, Messing is the only Team Canada member with an ISU Grand Prix assignment this season. Skate Canada International, scheduled to be held next week, was cancelled earlier this month.
Sitting in the kiss and cry waiting for his marks after Friday’s short program, Messing showed his Canadian pride, turning his back to the camera and pointing to the “Canada” emblem stitched across his team jacket. He repeated the gesture Saturday following his free program.
In this strangest of seasons, Messing wants to remind his teammates, Skate Canada and fans north of the border who he is skating for.
“Just before I took my starting position today, I said to myself ‘this is for you guys,’” said Messing. “It was for my teammates who have to stay home. Today, I had something to fight for. I was skating for my team.
“This is a shared medal. With my team, with all of Canada. The Canadian fans have been so incredible to me. I am so proud to have that flag on my back and to win an international medal for Canada.”
No fans were permitted into Orleans Arena for Skate America, and while Messing says event officials went out of their way to keep athletes safe in Las Vegas, he admits it was almost surreal competing in an empty arena.
“It was odd, but it’s funny, you get out on the ice and the switch gets flipped, and you’re in competition mode,” Messing said. “I usually feed off their energy. Not hearing that applause was something I’m not used to. They piped in the crowd applause after the program, but there was no one there. There was no emotion.
“It makes you want the real thing again.”
Full Results: 2020 Skate America