Canadian nationals are this weekend in the nation’s capital, in celebration of the country’s 150th birthday. Novice, Junior and Senior disciplines will be decided this week, with the top skaters battling this weekend for spots on the World team representing the “True North”. Injuries have taken their toll on some skaters this week, making the competitions in some categories wide open.
Analysis – Canadian men’s skaters have some setbacks due to injury. But this year will be better, as the top three skaters return. At the top, Olympic silver medallist, Patrick Chan who had a strong Grand Prix season, winning Skate Canada and Cup of China. The numbers game dropped him to 5th in the Grand Prix Final. He’s the heavy favorite to win in Ottawa this weekend. The rest of the field will play for 2nd and 3rd. Nan Nguyen is his closest rival, but his international display has been reduced use to injuries. He finished 6th at Skate America and 8th at NHK Trophy. Kevin Reynolds is also returning to the ice due to injuries. He’s only competed in on Grand Prix event, finishing 3rd at Skate Canada. Liam Firus finished 2nd in Halifax last year and also has two 3rd place finishes at Canadian nationals and is a threat to medal.
Skaters to Watch – Roman Sadovsky has an outside chance at the podium, his best finish was in 2015, where he finished 4th. Elladj Balde had a poor Grand Prix season, finishing 6th in Moscow and 10th at NHK Trophy. Keegan Messing’s best finish at nationals was 5th in 2015. Former junior champ Nicolas Nadeau makes his second appearance in seniors competition. He finished 5th last year.
1. Patrick Chan
2. Kevin Reynolds
3. Liam Firus
Analysis – Lots of excitement, as the top three skaters in Canada (Each of them, national champions) look to take the crown. 2014 champion Kaetlyn Osmond looks to get back her title after years of debilitating injuries. She had a great Grand Prix season, with two 2nd place finishes at Skate Canada and Cup of China and a 4th place finish at the Grand Prix final. 2015 champion Gabby Daleman had a solid Grand Prix season with two 4th place finishes at Skate America and Trophee de France and will look to regain her crown. But the current Canadian champion has other ideas. 2016 champ Alaine Chartrand had a disappointing Grand Prix season (5th at Skate Canada and 10th NHK Trophy), she’s been extremely focused and looks to defend her crown on home ice. Injuries have taken out other top contenders, but Sarah Tamura is one that could make a splash this weekend. The former junior champion will skate for the first time on the senior level.
Skaters to Watch – Other skaters looking to crack the top 5 have limited experience on the international level. Alicia Pineault finished 2nd last year as a junior and had a 10th place finish at JGP Czech Skate. Larkyn Austman finished 6th at last year’s nationals and is a former junior champion (2013). Kim Decelles makes her senior debut this weekend.
1. Kaetlyn Osmond
2. Gabby Daleman
3. Alaine Chartrand
Analysis – Eight teams will determine who will take the top three spots for Worlds this weekend. The overwhelming favorites are two-time world champions, Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford. However, this season saw some surprising turns in their season. They stumbled in their three Grand Prix competitions. Despite coming back to win in two, they finished 3rd at the Grand Prix Final. Two teams could do the unthinkable this weekend. Julianne Séguin and Charlie Bilodeau scored their 2nd straight Grand Prix Final appearance (finishing 5th) after 1st at Skate America and 5th at Rostelecom Cup. Lubov Ilyushechkina and Dylan Moscovitch had a strong Grand Prix season with 3rd place finishes at Skate Canada and Cup of China, just missing the GP Final on points. Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro had to sit out of the Grand Prix circuit due to injury, but they are expected to contend for a podium spot this weekend.
Skaters to Watch – Brittany Jones and Joshua Reagan started the season off with promise, taking the non-GP US International Classic title. But then stumbled to a 7th place finish at Skate Canada. Camille Ruest and Andrew Wolfe competed in their first events as a team this season, finished 6th at Rostelecom Cup. The rest of the field, Angelina Ekaterinina & Sebastian Arcieri and Sydney Kolodziej & Maxime Deschamps make their debuts at nationals.
BREAKING: Skate Canada just announced that Julianne Séguin and Charlie Bilodeau have withdrawn from nationals.
Séguin sustained a concussion in late December for which she has been receiving care, and is improving. “She has been able to resume practices, but has not yet been cleared to return to full practices or competition. Her progress has been on track, and is expected to continue,” explained Dr. Tatiana Jevremovic, Skate Canada Chief Medical Advisor.
The team will still be in consideration for the 2017 ISU Championship events.
Adjusted our picks for this weekend to reflect the last minute change.
1. Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford
2. Lubov Ilyushechkina and Dylan Moscovitch
3. Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro
Analysis – In what stands to be the highlight of the competition, the return of Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir to Canadian nationals. After taking a year off, the team left off right where they started, winning at Skate Canada, NHK Trophy and the Grand Prix Final. This puts the pressure on the current Canadian champions, Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje, whose status has dropped from the ISU World rankings (currently 4th). They finished 3rd at Rostelecom Cup and 2nd at Cup of China, and will most certainly be fighting champions this weekend. The projectory for Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier has been moving steadily upward, with two 3rd place finishes, at Skate Canada and Trophee de France.
Skaters to Watch – The ending partnership between Alexandra Paul and Mitch Islam along with a string of injuries has opened up a spot for a contender this weekend. Six other teams look to take that next step in their careers. A few make their senior debuts this weekend. Carolanne Soucisse and Shane Firus have only two international competitions under their belts. Haley Sales and Nikolas Wamsteeker best finish was 4th at last year’s junior nationals.
1. Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir
2. Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje
3. Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier