Canada also has their national skating championships this weekend. This year, it takes place in Kingston, Ontario; where three different categories and almost 100 skaters will converge on the city by Lake Ontario. The big story is most of last year’s gold medalists are sitting out this season, leaving a golden opportunity for some skaters.
Here’s our picks this weekend.
Analysis – Canadian men have some big shoes to fill with Patrick Chan sitting out this season. It’s hard to see who is his “heir apparent” is. The story of this weekend is the continued bad luck of Kevin Reynolds. He had to sit out of this year’s Grand Prix season due to boot issues. If he’s going to keep his International status, he must participate this weekend and at least finish 3rd. Elladj Baldé had only one Grand Prix competition under his belt, finishing 6th at NHK Trophy. Jeremy Ten struggled this fall with 10th place finish at Rostelecom Cup and an 8th place finish at NHK Trophy. Roman Sadovsky makes his debut on the senior level after modest success in Juniors (1st at JGP Czech Skate this season). Finally, Andrei Rogozine needs to get better after disappointing finishes this fall (9th at Skate Canada).
Skaters to Watch – Could we be seeing a new star in Nam Nguyen? This season, he wowed the crowd with a 3rd place finish at Skate America and 4th at Cup of China. Look for the former World Junior Champion to make a statement this weekend in Kingston.
1. Nam Nguyen
2. Elladj Baldé
3. Roman Sadovsky
Analysis – The loss of Kaetlyn Osmond due to injury makes this more of an open competition than we could predict. However two skaters could break from the pack. Brockville, Ontario’s Alaine Chartrand has home ice advantage, as she’s only an hour from home. She won her first Gran Prix medal with a 3rd place showing at Rostelecom Cup this fall. That makes her a slight favorite over Olympian Gabby Daleman, who had a rough Grand Prix season, finishing 5th at Cup of China and 6th at NHK Trophy. Others that could fight for bronze are Véronik Mallet, who didn’t fare well this fall with two 10th place finishes in the Grand Prix circuit and Kim Deguise Léveillée who makes her debut as a senior skater.
Skaters to Watch – A few to watch includes Roxanne Rheault, Madelyn Dunley and Sandrine Martin. One skater you won’t be able to watch is Julianne Séguin, who, after participating in Grand Prix as a single skater (12th at Skate Canada in place of Ormond) has decided to concentrate on pairs this year with her partner, Charlie Bilodeau.
1. Alaine Chartrand
2. Gabby Daleman
3. Véronik Mallet
Analysis – With only seven teams participating, three will go to Worlds this year because Canada has one of the best pairs team in the world in Meagan Duhamel & Eric Radford. They’ve been on a tear since early this season, winning every competition they’ve entered, including the Grand Prix final. They should be a shoe-in for another National title, with their sights on Shanghai in March. The question now is, how big their point total will be on the second place team? Olympic silver medalists Kirsten Moore-Towers & Dylan Moscovitch decided to split at the end of last season. Both have new partners, with Moore-Towers pairing with Michael Marinaro and Moscovitch with Lubov Ilyushechkina. Right now Ilyushechkina & Moscovitch seem to have the upper hand, winning in a non-GP competition (Warsaw Cup), while Moore-Towers & Marinaro struggled in Grand Prix competition this season. But both better be prepared for Julianne Séguin & Charlie Bilodeau, who will make their senior debut and have been dominant in Junior Grand Prix competitions (three 1st place finishes this season.)
Skaters to Watch – The new team of Natasha Purich & Drew Wolfe had a decent performance this season, finishing 6th at Cup of Canada and can only get better. Others that will be trying to improve on their performance include Vanessa Grenier & Maxime Deschamps and Brittany Jones & Joshua Reagan
1. Meagan Duhamel & Eric Radford
2. Julianne Séguin & Charlie Bilodeau
3. Lubov Ilyushechkina & Dylan Moscovitch
Analysis – Olympic Gold and Silver medalist Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir is also sitting out this year’s nationals. That leaves Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje to take full control of Canadian Ice Dancing and the World, as well. They had their best season, winning all competitions including the Grand Prix final. Not far behind are Piper Gilles & Paul Poirier, who had a very successful fall season, finishing 2nd at Skate Canada and Trophee Bompard and a 5th place finish in the Final. Olympians Alexandra Paul & Mitchell Islam showed improvement compared to last season, but not by much. They’ll try to move up from their 3rd place finish from last season. Nicole Orford & Thomas Williams could also make a move to the podium with a good performance this weekend.
Skaters to Watch – Two junior teams to watch out for. Madeline Edwards & ZhaoKai Pang make their debut in the senior circuit this weekend. They could make an impression on the judges after a successful junior Grand Prix run (1st at JGP Nagoya TV Cup and 5th at JGP final). Mackenzie Bent & Garrett Mackeen also make their premiere run as a senior team. They were last year’s junior champions.
1. Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje
2. Piper Gilles & Paul Poirier
3. Alexandra Paul & Mitchell Islam