Canadian figure skating has been going through a transition of power thru its ranks. Gone are pairs medalists Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford. Patrick Chan won’t be going for another Canadian men’s title. World ladies champion Kaetlyn Osmond is sitting out this season, along with Olympic gold medalists Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir in ice dance. That means a whole new line up of skaters, many full of promise for the sport in Canada. This year’s championships are taking place in St. John’s, New Brunswick starting on Monday.
Men (Full Lineup) – At the top of the list is Keegan Messing. This season, he qualified for his first Grand Prix Final (for the injured Yuzuru Hanyu), finishing 5th. He finished 2nd at Nationals last season, so he should be the odds-on favorite this weekend. His main competition will be Nam Ngyuen, who was 3rd at Nationals last year. His Grand Prix season had him finishing 6th at Skate America and 5th at Skate Canada. Roman Sadovsky is an up and coming star for Canada, who was 7th last season and could reach the podium. He was 12th at Skate Canada. Nicholas Nadeau is coming off an injury plagued season and is making his debut. He participated in his only competition this season at Finlandia Trophy, where he finished.
Skaters to Watch: Keep a watchful eye on Stephen Gogolev. He won the Junior Grand Prix title with an impressive free skate this season. Joseph Pham, who had a 3rd place finish at JGP Czech Skate this year should also be of consideration. Both skaters will be making their senior debuts in 2019.
1. Keegan Messing
2. Nam Nguyen
3. Stephen Gogolev
Ladies (Full Lineup) – As we mentioned previously, Kaetlyn Osmond is sitting of this season after winning the World ladies title and finishing 3rd at the Winter Olympics. That leaves three elite skaters ready to fight for the top spot. Gabby Daleman is the defending champion. However, she’s had battles with her mental health and was forced to sit out the Grand Prix season to get better. Despite all her health issues, she’s still the favorite to repeat this weekend. Her biggest competition will be from Larkyn Austman, who surprised everyone last year with a 3rd place finish at Nationals and a place on the Olympic team. This season, Austman has been struggling with injuries, but should be at 100% percent for this weekend. Alaine Chartrand struggled last year to a 4th place finish at Nationals, missing out on the Olympics. This season is no different, as she finished 9th at State America and 8th at Skate Canada. Regardless, the 2016 Canadian ladies champion is still a favorite to make the podium this weekend.
Skaters to Watch: Veronik Mallet has been away from the ice for almost three years due to injury. She makes her return to competition this weekend. Her best finish at Nationals was 3rd in 2015. Alicia Pineault also showed some promise, as she had a 10th place finish at Skate Canada this year.
1. Gabby Daleman
2. Larkyn Austman
3. Alaine Chartrand
Pairs (Full Lineup) – With the retirement of Duhamel and Radford & the surprise end of Julianne Seguin and Charlie Bilodeau collaboration, the changing of the guard leaves Kristen Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro as the team most likely to benefit from their departure. They had a solid Grand Prix season, finishing 3rd at Skate Canada and 4th at NHK Trophy. They also missed a top 10 finish at last year’s Winter Olympics, finishing 11th. After two consecutive 3rd place finishes at Nationals, they’re the overall favorite this weekend to take the top spot. Only five other senior teams are participating Nationals this weekend. Camile Ruest and Andrew Wolfe haven’t had a top three finish in their tenure as a pairs team, with their best being a 5th place showing at Internationaux de France in 2018. Evelyn Walsh and Trennt Michaud were 5th at Nationals last season, with a 5th place showing at Skate Canada.
Teams to Watch: The two other teams are newly formed. Justine Brasseur and Mark Bardei makes their debut as a pairs team. Brasseur was previously paired with Mathieu Ostiguy for four years. Lori-Ann Matte and Thierry Ferland are the reigning Canadian Junior champions and will make their Senior debut this weekend.
1. Kristen Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro
2. Camile Ruest and Andrew Wolfe
3. Lori-Ann Matte and Thierry Ferland
Ice Dance (Full Lineup) – The top two ice dance teams in the absence of Virtue and Moir also happens to be in the top 10 ISU world rankings. Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier (#8) are looking for their first National title after finishing 2nd four times, including last year. They also were third in both their Grand Prix assignments this season. Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje (#10) are looking for their third National championship. They finished third at last year’s Worlds and was 7th at the Winter Olympics. Both teams will battle for the top two podium spots. Third place will be with the remaining six teams participating. Carolane Soucisse and Shane Firus look to make the podium after two 4th place finishes at Nationals. Haley Sales and Nikolas Wamsteeker are also looking to be one of those teams after a 6th place showing at last year’s Nationals.
Teams to Watch: After failing to gain citizenship to participate in the 2022 Winter Olympics, Laurence Fournier Beaudry and Nikolaj Sorensen will skate as a Canadian ice dance team. The three time Danish champions finished 13th at last year’s World championships. Molly Lanaghan and Dmitre Razgulajevs make their second appearance on the senior level. Last year, they finished 7th at Nationals.
1. Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier
2. Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje
3. Laurence Fournier Beaudry and Nikolaj Sorensen
Here are my picks for Juniors
Men – Aleksa Rakic – The 14 year old from BC had a 6th place finish at JGP Czech Skate this season.
Ladies – Hannah Dawson – The versatile skater who also participates in pairs was 10th at JGP Canada this season.
Pairs – Patricia Andrew and Paxton Fletcher – The team finished 2nd at last year’s Junior Nationals.
Ice Dance – Marjorie Lajoie and Zachary Lagha – The team goes for a third Canadian Junior National title. They were 4th in the world on the junior level last year.