There is no substitute for hard work and confidence, Kim DeGuise Leveillee has found. On Wednesday, the 15-year-old skater from Sorel-Tracy, Que., won the junior women’s title at the Canadian Tire National Skating Championships.

There is no substitute for hard work and confidence, Kim DeGuise Leveillee has found.

On Wednesday, the 15-year-old skater from Sorel-Tracy, Que., won the junior women’s title at the Canadian Tire National Skating Championships.

The win meant even more, that DeGuise Leveillee finished 17th – next to last – in the junior women’s category last year. After that, she switched coaches, coming to Josee Picard and Marc-Andre Craig last March.

“She had no triples,” Craig said. “And she had a lack of confidence.”

“We worked hard to get this, but it’s been a roller coaster all year. One day you are up, the next day you are down.”

But DeGuise Leveillee tackled the national championships with gusto and confidence this week. She stood out from the crowd, earning 128.17 points, and easily winning the free skate with 84.66.

Julianne Delaurier, 15, of Kelowna, B.C. – from the burgeoning school of Karen and Jason Mongrain – finished second in the free with 75.84 (8.72 points behind the winner) and second overall with 120.06 points.

Madelyn Dunley, 16, of Campbellville, Ont., took the bronze medal for the second consecutive year, this time with 119.60 points. She was exciting to watch: she skated with great speed and landed a spectacular, huge double Axel – triple toe loop combination. She even tackled a triple Lutz, rare at this junior national level, but fell four times. She had led after the short program.

DeGuise Leveillee sat in third after the short, but that was all good, in her mind. For the free, “I really intended to give it my all,” she said. “I worked so hard to be here and give it.”

She mastered four triples this year. Skating to Notre Dame de Paris, DeGuise Leveillee opened with a triple flip (!), a triple loop – double toe loop that just sang, a triple toe loop, a double Axel-double toe loop, a triple loop, , a double flip-double toe loop-double loop combo and a double Axel. She threw a couple of fists when she finished.

“Last year, my goal was just to be on the Quebec team,” she said. “My goal was not the same this year. This year, I wanted to be on the top.

“I feel good. I’m pleased for me. I’m happy to win.”

DeGuise Leveillee began skating because her aunt was also skating, and her parents decided to enrol her in skating. Now, she says she’ll work hard to take the next step, adding a triple Lutz and a triple –triple combination when she jumps to senior next year. She knows she’ll have to work hard. It is difficult for her to learn jumps, but when she does, it’s easy to keep them, she said.

“I think this is a ticket for a very long flight,” said Craig.

Craig said the skating school started by Picard a few years ago is now bearing fruit. “You are starting to see what I work on for the past six-seven years,” he said. “We started a lot of young kids, and now you are seeing them in senior and you are seeing the little ones in novice, too.“

Beverley Smith