It’s hard to keep track of all the competitions happening this weekend, but believe it or not, Skate Canada begins their selections for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games this weekend with the 100th anniversary of the Canadian Figure Skating Championships. It all takes place at the Canadian Tire Centre in Kanata, Ontario, where over 100 skaters will take part. Sadly, I won’t be able to attend in person due to my wife’s illness, but I’ll be able to watch on television. Here are my picks!
Men (3 skaters qualify for Sochi)
Analysis: Ottawa’s Patrick Chan took a step back this fall with his performance in the Grand Prix final, being upset by Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu. He needs to step up his game if he doesn’t want to be upsen on the national level. There are a couple of formidable opponents he’ll be going up against. One is B.C.’s Kevin Reynolds, who is looking to jumpstart his season after sitting out the Grand Prix circuit due to injury. Another is Jeremy Ten, who is also back from injury. His last competition was a 3rd place finish at Nebelhorn Trophy in 2013. The rest of the field includes Mathieu Nepton, Christophe Belley, Charles Dion, Sasha Alcoloumbre, Samuel Angers and Elladj Balde from the Quebec region. Central Ontario is represented by Anthony Kan, Andrei Rogozine, Roman Sadovsky Shaquille Davis and Nam Nguyen. Joining Patrick Chan in the Eastern Ontario Division is Peter O’Brien, while Mitchell Gordon and Liam Firus will represent B.C. and the Yukon Region. The lone representative out of Saskatchewan is Garrett Gosselin.
Skaters to watch – Out of all the skaters, keep your eye out on Andrei Rogozine,. He has international experience and despite his disappointing finishes, could give the 2nd and 3rd place skaters a run. As much as he struggled in the Grand Prix Final, this is Patrick Chan’s Gold to lose. Look for him to finish strong in time for Sochi.
Smooth’s Pick –
1. Patrick Chan
2. Jeremy Ten
3. Kevin Reynolds
Ladies (2 skaters)
Analysis: In 2012, Kaetlyn Osmond set the world on fire, winning Skate Canada and then backing that up with a Canadian National title. Her 8th place finish at Worlds gave Canada a bright spot to look forward to. However, this season hasn’t been as kind to Kaetlyn, as she had to pull out of Skate Canada and all Grand Prix events due to a hamstring injury. Lingering injuries to her ankle puts her chances at a repeat in jeopardy. Her loss, sets the stage for former Canadian champ, Amelie Lacoste. She has a chance to regain her title, but she has lots of competition to fight off, including Brockville’s . Alaine Chartrand and Toronto’s Gaby Daleman. Other skaters include from Quebec; Camille Ruest, Marianne Rioux Ouellet, Justine Gosselin, Roxanne Cournoyer, Roxanne Rheault, Julianne Séguin and Veronik Mallet. Representing Northern Ontario are Marika Steward & Véronique Cloutier. Along with Gabby Daleman, Central Ontario sends Eri Nishimura and Alexandra Najarro. The rest of the group are Larkyn Austman of B.C./Yukon, Kelsey McNeil of New Brunswick and Jessica Sergeant of the Alberta, Northwest Territories and Nunavut region.
Skaters to Watch: Keep your eye on Alaine Chartrand. She surprised many with a strong 3rd place finish last season. Also, Quebec has a lineage of great skaters represented this weekend. Of the seven being represented, Julianne Seguin stands the best chance. She finished 3rd on the junior level in 2012 and makes her senior debut. This division is up in the air, with a race between Lacoste, Osmond and Chartrand.
Smooth’s Pick –
1. Amelie Lacoste
2. Kaetlyn Osmond
3. Alaine Chartrand
Pairs (3 teams)
Analysis: 8 teams will compete for Gold this weekend, with the most notable being the reigning Canadian champs, Meagan Duhamel & Eric Radford. The ISU’s 4th ranked skaters in the world be going for their third straight title this weekend. Their biggest competitors are Kirsten Moore-Towers & Dylan Moscovitch who are ranked 7th in the world and Paige Lawrence & Rudi Swiegers who are ranked 11th in the world. The rest of the competitors are Brittany Jones & Joshua Reagan, Shalena Rau & Rob Schultz, Margaret Purdy & Michael Marinaro and Natasha Purich & Mervin Tran.
Skaters to Watch: Margaret Purdy & Michael Marinaro began their Grand Prix seasons with poor showings at Skate America and Skate Canada, finishing 8th in both competitions. However, as former junior Canadian pairs champions, they still have the spark to get to the next level. Also, watch for Natasha Purich & Mervin Tran, who are skating on the senior level for the first time. All three top pairs teams could medal in Sochi, though its an outside chance.
Smooth’s Pick –
1. Meagan Duhamel & Eric Radford
2. Kirsten Moore-Towers & Dylan Moscovitch
3. Paige Lawrence & Rudi Swiegers
Ice Dance (3 teams)
Analysis: Like their adversaries in the states, Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir have high hopes going in Sochi this February. They’re the reigning Olympic Gold medalists and have only been able to finish 2nd against Davis & White. Look for a spirited performance this weekend by the 5-time champs, who will go for their 6th straight Nationals title. They’ll have some tough performances to top, including one by Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje, who had a very successful Grand Prix season, finishing 2nd at Skate Canada and in Moscow and a 5th place finish at the Grand Prix Final in Japan. Looking over their shoulder is the team of Piper Gilles & Paul Poirier, who’ve won Bronze in 2012 and Silver in 2013. Eleven other teams looking to make the podium include Quebec’s Élisabeth Paradis & François-Xavier Ouellette, Mariève Cyr & Benjamin Brisebois Gaudreau, Andréanne Poulin & Marc-André Servant, Mélissande Dumas & Simon Proulx-Sénécal, Victoria & Connor Hasegawa and Bianka Gadosy & Benjamin Smyth. Representing Central Ontario are Kharis Ralph & Asher Hill and Alexandra Paul & Mitchell Islam. Finally, representing B.C./Yukon region are Madeline Edwards & ZhaoKai Pang and Nicole Orford & Thomas Williams.
Skaters to Watch: Alexandra Paul & Mitchell Islam made their senior Grand Prix debut at Skate Canada, where they finished 5th. They won the junior Ice Dance championship in 2010 and can make the grade. Also, Kharis Ralph & Asher Hill had limited competition this season, finishing 3rd at NRW Trophy Ice Dance in Dortmund and 4th at Cup of Nice. You may see an upset here, with a hard pressed Weaver & Poje gunning to depose Virtue and Moir, but not likely.
Smooth’s Pick –
1. Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir
2. Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje
3. Piper Gilles & Paul Poirier