Inspiring Canadians to skate with the new CanSkate program

It looks like organized chaos: helmeted toddlers on tiny blades whizzing about every which way on the frosty rinks of Canada. Not one of them stands still or waits a turn to try out that forward stroke, that tottery stop. It’s go-go-go amid an array of colourful props. Most importantly, they look as if they are having fun.

The scene is prime evidence that there is a revolution going on in the way Canadians are learning how to skate. It’s the new face of the CanSkate program, retrofitted to use all the scientific research on LTAD, or long term athlete development. LTAD is an acronym that is not part of everyday parlance, but it is becoming the byword of Canadian sport. About a decade ago, Sport Canada asked all sport associations across the country to adopt it and adapt it to their development programs. Skate Canada watched and learned from the rest and is one of the most recent to take the plunge. On September 1, 2014, the new CanSkate program became mandatory at all 1,200 skating clubs in Canada.

Before the launch about 60 per cent of clubs had already converted to the new program and about 3,400 (64 per cent) of Canada’s 5,300 coaches have taken the training to teach it. Now all clubs and coaches are teaching the new CanSkate curriculum. Currently, 125,000 skaters participate in CanSkate, the majority of the association’s 173,000 skating members. Clearly, this program drives Skate Canada.

The scientific studies have shown parents and coaches and athletes when it’s the best time to train a certain skill.  “Quite often we miss the boat in some of those areas, so science has told us that the best time to train flexibility is between six and 10,” said Monica Lockie, chairperson of the learn-to-skate resource group. “If we don’t get that information to all our athletes, by the time you are 14, you can still make progress in that area, but you can’t take it to your maximum potential had you trained it in that window of trainability.”

The new program will be a key guide on when to train stamina, strength, flexibility and when to acquire certain skills. “Skill acquisition is a big one,” Lockie said. “They say the golden years of learning are between seven and 11 and that’s when we really have to build those neural pathways in the athletes that will be there after puberty.”

The new CanSkate program works to build and reinforce important basic skills. Instead of just introducing a skill at one level and then leaving it, the skater will work on the same skill at many different stages. The coaches have a chance to introduce the skill, develop it and then perfect it over a longer period of time.

One of the early skills is a push-glide sequence. In the old system, it was introduced only in stage two, and then skaters moved on to other skills in different stages. But now the push-glide sequence is part of every stage. Forward crosscuts, another big one that is a little more advanced and harder to learn, is introduced without high expectations early and then through subsequent stages, the expectations rise. By stage six, those toddlers should be a whiz at forward crosscuts.

So how does this look in practice? It seems chaotic on the ice, but that’s not a bad thing. Under the old system, skaters would line up, stand still and wait their turn while the coach worked with them. There would be lots of empty patches of ice, with no activity. In the new system, every little group is following its own path, in various circuits and stations. Where there were toddlers standing still, wiping their noses and waiting their turns in the old world, now they are all moving constantly, from station to station, skill to skill. “The number of repetitions they get in practicing those skills increases by 400 per cent by going on that circuit,” Lockie said. The skaters don’t lose focus.  They no longer ask for bathroom breaks.

The feedback from coaches? Some are leery of change, Lockie said. But many who have been immersed in it already marvel at the swift progress young skaters make. One youngster moved up to the STARSkate program (Skate Canada’s learn to figure skate program) after only one year in CanSkate, rather than two or three.

The program basically runs itself when set up, but that’s because the Skate Canada committee, headed by Lockie has painstakingly created a detailed guide for coaches. Her biggest mission, Lockie said, was to create a program that worked anywhere or for anybody: a large club with 20 coaches on staff to a small club with one. It had to work seamlessly for all. “It’s taken a lot of the preparation work away from the coaches,” Lockie said. “It makes sure that our delivery is a lot more standardized across the country.” In the old system, it was up to the individual coach to come up with a lesson plan: great for coaches with 30 years of experience, harder for newbies.

This new program focuses on learning to skate, but it does not focus on figure skating skills. That makes it a prime tool for any beginners for any ice sport in Canada, like hockey, speed skating and ringette. While setting up the program, Lockie spoke to coaches from all ice skating sports to find out what basic skills they needed before they entered their sport-specific program. And she went to coaches like Tracy Wilson to talk about the essence of skating, and how, for example, to allow the body to move freely.

“We want to continue to be the best learn-to-skate program in the country,” Lockie said. Skate Canada coaches are the perfect ones to take that on. They are probably the most technical ice sport coaches around. Skating coaches understand how the blade works, how to get power and edges from the blade, and how the biomechanics of movement of the stride really work. The success of the program will lie in getting all Canadians to skate, even if just for pleasure, for fitness, and to feel safe on the ice.

The old system has produced countless world and Olympic champions, such as Patrick Chan and Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir. Just think what the new program will be able to do.

Injury will keep skater Kaetlyn Osmond out of fall competitions

OTTAWA, ON:  A fall during a training session last week will keep Canadian champion and Olympic silver medallist (team) Kaetlyn Osmond off ice for at least the next six weeks.  The 18-year old native of Marystown, Nfld., who now lives and trains in Alberta, represents Edmonton’s Ice Palace FSC.

On Thursday, September 11th, during a routine practice session, Osmond was working on choreography for this season’s programs, when she swerved around another skater. She caught an edge and fell onto the ice, fracturing the fibula in her right leg.  She underwent surgery on Friday at Misericordia Community Hospital in Edmonton to stabilize the fracture and was discharged on Saturday.

She will not be able to put any weight on the right leg for six weeks, keeping her off the ice for the duration of that time.  She will withdraw from the three events she had planned to compete in this fall: Autumn Classic International in Barrie, Ont.; Skate Canada International in Kelowna, B.C.; and Trophée Éric Bompard in Bordeaux, France.

In good spirits, Osmond wanted to thank all her fans and friends for the good wishes. “I really appreciate all the support I’ve received from our medical team at Skate Canada and at Misericordia. I’m obviously disappointed to miss the early part of the skating season, but I will look forward to getting back onto the ice and training again. I certainly hope to be competing in Kingston at the Canadian Tire National Skating Championships in January.”

Gold for Canada’s Edwards and Pang at ISU Junior Grand Prix

AICHI, Japan – Madeline Edwards of Port Moody, B.C., and ZhaoKai Pang of Burnaby, B.C., won the gold medal in ice dancing on Sunday at the fourth stop on the ISU Junior Grand Prix figure skating circuit.

Edwards and Pang earned their second medal this season on the circuit tabulating 134.42 points. The performance should assure them a spot in the Junior Grand Prix final. Alla Loboda and Pavel Drodz of Russia were second at 133.98 and Rachel Parsons and Michael Parsons of the U.S., the leaders after the short dance, took third at 131.42.

The Canadians were bronze medallists at the world junior championships last season, and have now stepped on the podium at six consecutive Junior Grand Prix but this was their first gold.

‘’It feels amazing to get the gold,’’ said Edwards. ‘’It is one of the big highlights of our career. We just felt really relaxed in our free skate today and really into it.’’

In the free dance, Edwards and Pang were the first to skate in the last group.

‘’I would actually rather have it that way,’’ said Pang. ‘’You can go out there and skate and not worry about the other performances. We are just ecstatic that it held up.’’

Lauren Collins of Minesing, Ont., and Shane Firus of North Vancouver were sixth.

It was also a big day for Nicolas Nadeau of Boisbriand, Que., in the men’s free skate as he roared from 10th after the short program to fifth overall. Boyang Jin of China won the gold.

The fifth stop on the circuit is in two weeks in Tallinn, Estonia.

Videos of routines available on the ISU YouTube channel

Full results:

Orford and Williams win silver at 2014 U.S. International Skating Classic

SALT LAKE CITY – Nicole Orford of Burnaby, B.C., and Thomas Williams of Okotoks, Alta., were narrowly edged for gold on Saturday in ice dancing at the 2014 U.S. International Skating Classic figure skating competition. The event is the first on the ISU’s new Challenger Series.

Alexandra Aldridge and Daniel Eaton of the U.S. hung on for top spot with 141.70 points. Orford and Williams, the defending bronze medallists, closed the gap even closer from the short program with 141.02.

‘’We made a mistake near the end of the program and that probably cost us the gold,’’ said Williams. ‘’Still it was a pretty good start to the season for us. This new program is a big departure for us from what we did last year and we are really excited about it.’’

Orford admitted it’s never fun to be so close to victory.

‘’It’s disappointing to know how close we were,’’ she said. ‘’We had two good skates and we improved on our performance and connection. The knock on us last year was that we were too rushed and this year we are trying to take our time and show the moments.’’

There was also a heated battle for bronze with Anastasia Cannuscio and Colin McManus of the U.S. overtaking Quebec champions Marieve Cyr of Ile-Bizard, Que., and Benjamin Brisebois-Gaudreau of Montreal for third spot. The American scored 126.44 and the Canadians, making their international debut, 121.58 for fourth.

‘’We had a tough free dance,’’ said Cyr. ‘’There were some technical errors but we have two new programs which are a step up in difficulty from last season.

In women’s competition, Alaine Chartrand of Prescott, Ont., took fourth spot with 161.65 points a mere 0.04 points from third place finisher Riona Kato of Japan who totalled 161.69. Polina Edmunds of the U.S., won gold at 176.35 and her compatriot Courtney Hickey earned the silver at 174.14.

‘’To be so close to the podium is a little disappointing,’’ said Chartrand, 18, fifth at the world juniors last season. ‘’Missing that last combination jump really hurt me in the end. I came into the final after a very satisfying short program so for me that was a step in the right direction.’’

Canada will also host an event on the ISU’s Challenger Series, the inaugural 2014 Skate Canada Autumn Classic International in Barrie, Ontario, from October 14-17, 2014 at the Allandale Recreation Centre.

Full results:


Canadian ice dancers in medal hunt at ISU Junior Grand Prix

AICHI, Japan – Madeline Edwards of Port Moody, B.C., and ZhaoKai Pang of Burnaby, B.C., are once again in the medal hunt at an international figure skating competition after placing second in Saturday’s short dance at the fourth stop on the ISU Junior Grand Prix circuit.

Rachel Parsons and Michael Parson of the U.S., are in first place with 55.71 points slightly ahead of Edwards and Pang at 55.33. Alla Loboda and Pavel Drodz of Russia are third at 52.25.

Edwards and Pang were third at the world junior championships last season and opened the 2014-15 campaign with a silver at the first stop on Junior Grand Prix circuit last month in France.

Lauren Collins of Minesing, Ont., and Shane Firus of North Vancouver are sixth at 42.52 as they made their international debut as a team.

Two 13-year-olds skated for Canada in the women’s competition which concluded Saturday. Grace Lin of Dollard-des-Ormeaux, Que., was 12th and Sarah Tamura of Burnaby, B.C., 14th. Serafima Sakhanovich of Russia won the gold medal.

‘’I was impressed with how super professional this event was,’’ said Lin. ‘’The atmosphere was great. I was happy with how I skated but I know I can do a lot better.’’

Tamura was also delighted with her experience.

‘’I know what I need to work on for the next time,’’ she said. ‘’I wasn’t pleased with how I skated but I fought through everything. My goal for this year is to successfully land all my jumps in the program.’’

In Friday’s men’s short program, Nicolas Nadeau of Boisbriand, Que., was 10th.

The free dance and men’s free skate are on Sunday.

Videos of routines available on the ISU YouTube channel

Full results:


New Canadian pair fourth in international debut

SALT LAKE CITY – Brittany Jones and Joshua Reagan of Toronto took fourth spot in pairs on Friday night in their international debut at the 2014 U.S. International Skating Classic figure skating competition. The event is the first on the ISU’s new Challenger Series.

In pairs, Jones and Reagan skated a clean long program for a successful conclusion to their first international assignment since joining forces in October 2013. They were less than four points from third place scoring 134.84. The U.S. swept the top-three positions with Alexa Scimeca and Chris Knierim first.

‘’We did exactly what we wanted to do,’’ said Reagan, 24. ‘’We wanted to come here and skate clean programs. Brittany was amazing especially when she cleanly landed those two throws at the end of the program.’’

Jones, who skated to sixth place at the world junior championships with former partner Ian Beharry in 2013, was also pleased with the performance.

‘’We’ve been really progressing well over the last few months,’’ said Jones, seventh with Reagan at the national championships this past January. ‘’We were a little nervous going into this competition and facing international judges for the first time but we were able to stay calm during the performance.’’

In men’s competition, the Americans were 1-2 with Max Aaron first and Ross Miner second. Daisuke Murakami of Japan was third.

Andrei Rogozine of Newmarket, Ont., the 2011 world junior champion, was sixth in his first international assignment this season. He fell on his quad jump and singled a triple Axel. He made some adjustments on the fly in order to gain more points.

‘’I struggled for everything,’’ said Rogozine, 21. ‘’I went for the quad today because it had felt really good in practice. I felt comfortable at the start of the jump but I didn’t have enough momentum. Missing that jump threw me off for the triple Axel.’’

In the short dance, Nicole Orford of Burnaby, B.C., and Thomas Williams of Okotoks, Alta., are second and Marieve Cyr of Ile-Bizard, Que., and Benjamin Brisebois-Gaudreau of Montreal are third.

Alaine Chartrand of Prescott, Ont., is fourth after the women’s short program.

The free dance and women’s free skate are on Saturday evening.

Full results:

Skaters step up and show their wares at High Performance Camp

The post-Olympic Skate Canada High Performance Camp, held at the Hershey Centre in Mississauga last week, was most unusual.

Firstly, Canada’s Olympic dance stars, Tessa Virtue and a tanned Scott Moir, strode into the rink without skates and sat in the stands, watching. For the past half-dozen years, they’d been honing their skills, finding their strengths at these camps, and for now, they were looking on, sitting in a brutally cold rink on the hottest day of the summer.

They and three-time world champion Patrick Chan are still on the national team, not giving any signals that they intend to retire. Skate Canada issued them all invitations to come for a look, but Chan’s dance card was full.

Current world silver medalists Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje – ready to step up and fill their shoes – were pleased to see Virtue and Moir at the camp. “I think they know everything there is to know about technique, artistry and connection, and for either of them to see the programs and give us a little feedback would be extremely valuable,” Weaver said. “We would be very grateful.”

It’s a time for handing over of torches. Michael Slipchuk says he’s never seen such a transitional year as this one, since he took over the job as director of high performance for Skate Canada in 2007. “We have a lot of new faces in all disciplines,” he said. “We’ve had people there who had never been to a national team training camp – and coaches that hadn’t been either.”

For example, Marie-France Dubreuil attended as a coach for the first time. When Slipchuk started in his position, Dubreuil was there as a competitor. This was her first time back to the camp since she and partner Patrice Lauzon retired from competition in 2007, leaving behind a string of memorable performances.

Dubreuil brought with her some new faces, Elisabeth Paradis and Francois-Xavier Ouellette, who aren’t exactly members of the national team, and never even saw a Junior Grand Prix, but at age 22, have finally impressed.

Their scores at Cup of Nice last season placed them in the top 75 of Grand Prix selection criteria. So Skate Canada has given them a starting berth at the Skate Canada International in Kelowna, B.C. in October. “We put them on a top level really quick,” Slipchuk said. “We like to see that….Junior is not the end of the line. It’s just a stop along the way.” Judging from the past quadrennial, young skaters can push themselves up quickly in the next four, Slipchuk said. Skate Canada will have a better idea of who will make up the 2018 Olympic team two years out, but for now, it’s time to spread wings and look at all possibilities.

At the training camp, Paradis and Ouellette got invaluable advice, prepping them timely for their Skate Canada International date. “The super young ones were eager and excited,” Slipchuk said.

Despite the newness of the crew, Slipchuk saw the camp as a strong one that gave Skate Canada lots of valuable information, too. “It was a good opportunity to see that most came very ready,” he said. “We saw a lot of good stuff….A lot were ready to go.”

Slipchuk’s highlight of the two-day camp was to witness the clean throw quadruple Salchow landed by veterans (and oldest members of the team) Meagan Duhamel (28) and Eric Radford (29) – during their simulated run-through. “To get it done that day was good for the team,” Slipchuk said. Doing it in a simulated competition, with judges and technical officials looking on bodes well for future competitions.

The optimism at this training camp stems from top efforts by the current guard at the world championships last March, when Duhamel and Radford won their second bronze medal, and Weaver and Poje came within .2 points of winning the world title outright. Aside from that, three Canadian dance teams finished in the top 10 for the first time in years, and there were a lot of top 12 finishes by others. Nam Nguyen, the youngest at the camp at age 16, along with Gabby Daleman, flourished at the end of last season with a junior world title and a top 12 finish at the world championships in his first year in senior international competition.

At the camp, Slipchuk could see that Nguyen was even better and stronger this season already. “Brian has a good plan for Nam,” Slipchuk said.

Indeed, the camp is a good measure of the readiness of the team. If the athletes are behind, it’s a sign that it’s time to get them up to speed for the coming competitive season. Not only did Skate Canada bring in its top internationally-accredited officials but if also brought in others for worldly feedback: Simon Briggs, a coach and technical specialist from Britain (he was the tech specialist for pairs at the Vancouver Olympics) and David Kirby, a technical guru from the United States but who has ties to Canada.

The camp was also an important checkpoint for new teams, such as Kirsten Moore-Towers and Mike Marinaro, and Brittany Jones and Joshua Reagan, who are both newish teams. “This is probably their first time in front of judges and technical people and Skate Canada supporters, to do a program,” Slipchuk said. “It’s a good simulation for them. And Brittany and Joshua have never been out internationally. We like to see how they perform in that environment. We look at the camps as a learning opportunity.”

The camp was time for all of them to step up and show their wares. And many of them did.

Single Event Tickets on Sale Today for 2014 Skate Canada International in Kelowna

OTTAWA, ON: Single event tickets for the 2014 Skate Canada International in Kelowna, B.C., on sale Friday, September 12, 2014 at 10:00 a.m. (PT). The event will take place from October 30 – November 2, 2014 at Prospera Place.


The single event ticket prices range from $15-$60, plus applicable surcharges. Children under 12 are free on Thursday for practice sessions. Tickets may be purchased online at, by phone at 250.762.5050 or in person at the Prospera Place Box Office.


Headlining the field in Kelowna are five members of the Canadian 2014 Olympic silver medal team: Kaetlyn Osmond; Kevin Reynolds; Meagan Duhamel; Eric Radford; and Kirsten Moore-Towers.

Joining them will be Canada’s reigning world silver medalists in ice dance, Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje, along with a number of world-class skaters including Spain’s Javier Fernandez, USA’s Ashley Wagner, Japan’s Takahiko Kozuka and many other Olympic and world competitors.


Skate Canada International is the second competition in the annual ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating® series. The other events take place in the United States (Skate America), China (Cup of China), France (Trophée Eric Bompard), Russia (Rostelecom Cup) and Japan (NHK Trophy). Skaters are awarded points based on their placements in the series’ events.

At the conclusion of all the events, the top-six men and ladies and the top-six pair and ice dance teams qualify for the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final to be held in Barcelona, Spain from December 11-13, 2014.

The full competition schedule can be viewed on the Skate Canada website. Media wishing to cover the event are asked to apply for media accreditation online.

Canadian Skaters ready to compete in Salt Lake City for the U.S. International Figure Skating Classic

OTTAWA, ON: Canada will send eight skaters, for a total of five entries to the 2014 U.S. International Figure Skating Classic, a senior international competition which is the first event on the International Skating Union’s (ISU) new Challenger Series. The event runs from September 10-14, 2014, in Salt Lake City, UT. Canada will have one entry per discipline in men’s, ladies, and pair, and two entries in ice dance.

Andrei Rogozine, 21, Newmarket, Ont., will represent Canada in men’s. Last year, he placed seventh at this event, and eighth at Skate Canada International. Representing Richmond Hill Figure Skating Club, Rogozine also placed seventh at the 2014 Canadian Tire National Skating Championships. He is coached by Tom Zakrajsek and trains in Colorado Springs, CO, USA.

Alaine Chartrand, 18, Prescott, Ont., will be the Canadian entry in the ladies category. Last season, she placed seventh at the 2014 ISU Four Continents Figure Skating Championships, and fifth at the 2014 ISU World Junior Figure Skating Championships. Chartrand also placed fifth at the 2014 Canadian Tire National Skating Championships. She is coached by Michelle Leigh and Leonid Birinberg, and trains at the Nepean Skating Club.

In the pair category, Brittany Jones, 18, Toronto, Ont., and Joshua Reagan, 24, Dallas, TX, USA, – Toronto, Ont., will represent Canada. Both skaters have competed internationally with past partners, but this will be their first international assignment together since teaming up in October 2013. Last season, they placed seventh at the 2014 Canadian Tire National Skating Championships. Jones and Reagan are coached by Kristy Wirtz and Kris Wirtz at the Kitchener-Waterloo Skating Club.

Nicole Orford, 21, Burnaby, B.C., and Thomas Williams, 23, Okotoks, Alta., are one of two Canadian entries in ice dance. Representing Inlet SC and Calalta Community FSC, they won the bronze medal at this event last year. Orford and Williams also placed fifth at the 2014 Canadian Tire National Skating Championships and fifth at the 2014 ISU Four Continents Figure Skating Championships last season. They are coached by Megan Wing and Aaron Lowe at the Champs International Skating Centre.

Mariève Cyr, 19, Île Bizard, Que., and Benjamin Brisebois-Gaudreau, 22, Montreal, Que., are the second Canadian entry in ice dance. Last season, they placed ninth at the 2014 Canadian Tire National Skating Championships. This will be the second international assignment of their career, having placed seventh at the 2012 ISU Junior Grand Prix in Chemnitz, Germany.  They train in Pierrefonds, Que., with coaches Élise Hamel and Shawn Winter.

Petra Burka of Toronto, Ont., will be travelling with the team as team leader, and Siobhan Karam of Ottawa, Ont., will be the team physiotherapist. Susan Morriss of Victoria, B.C., and Pam Chislett of Grand Prairie, Alta., will be the Canadian officials at the event.

For more information and full entries please visit or

Canada will also host an event on the ISU’s Challenger Series, the inaugural 2014 Skate Canada Autumn Classic International in Barrie, Ontario, from October 14-17, 2014 at the Allandale Recreation Centre.


Discipline Name Age Hometown Club Coach
Mens Andrei Rogozine 21 Newmarket, Ont. Richmond Hill FSC Tom Zakrajsek
Ladies Alaine Chartrand 18 Prescott, Ont. Nepean Skating Club Michelle Leigh / Leonid Birinberg
Pair Brittany Jones / Joshua Reagan 18/24 Toronto, Ont. / Dallas, TX, USA – Toronto, Ont Kitchener-Waterloo SC/ Kitchener-Waterloo SC Kristy Wirtz / Kris Wirtz
Ice Dance Nicole Orford / Thomas Williams 21/22 Burnaby, B.C. / Okotoks, Alta. Inlet SC / Calalta Community FSC Megan Wing / Aaron Lowe
Ice dance Mariève Cyr / Benjamin Brisebois-Gaudreau 19/22 Île Bizard, Que. / Montreal, Que. CPA des Deux-Rives / CPA Ahuntsic Élise Hamel/ Shawn Winter

Canadian Junior skaters continue to bring home the hardware on the ISU Grand Prix circuit

Canadian skaters have never dominated a Junior Grand Prix event the way they did in Ostrava, Czech Republic last week.

The youth of Canada proved so compelling that the senior skaters attending the national team training camp in Mississauga, Ontario gathered en masse around a couple of laptops, watching magnificence unfold in Europe.

The youngsters won gold in three of the four events, a first for the land of the maple leaf. In most seasons since the Junior Grand Prix circuit started 18 years ago, Canada has done well to win as many as four gold medals during the entire string of seven or eight qualifying events. (This year there are seven.)

In only five of those 18 years, Canada has won four gold medals during the entire season. Last year, Canadian skaters won two gold medals over eight events, and none qualified for the Junior Grand Prix Final.

It’s not something that Canadian officials worry about too much. The Junior Grand Prix circuit is an important step, meant chiefly to develop future champions. “You see such a wide range of abilities on the circuit,” said Michael Slipchuk, director of high performance for Skate Canada. “Especially in singles and pairs, there’s always a clear break between the top skaters and the next group. Our guys are definitely pushing to be up there, but we’re more looking at our skaters to go out, learning to compete in that environment under those conditions, and skate at that level, and just continue in their development. So finally when they come to the Canadian championships, they are strong, and when they get to junior worlds, we can field a strong team.”

Witness Nam Nguyen, who stumbled his way through the Junior Grand Prix season last year as he went through a growth spurt. “I don’t think many people would have given him a shot to win junior worlds last year,” Slipchuk said. “But at Canadians, we knew he was moving in the right direction, and he won junior worlds. I think it’s a testament that if you keep progressing and doing things your way, things will work out. We leave it to our coaches to build a plan for their skaters and they know what’s best, and we’ll give the best support we can to get there.”

So far, Canada has won a total of five medals already: three gold and two silver in the first three Junior Grand Prix events. “We felt coming into this year that we had a strong group of dancers coming out,” Slipchuk said. Pair skating is another strength. Skate Canada is also looking to Julianne Seguin and Charlie Bilodeau to have a strong season, too. Seguin and Bilodeau, making their first Junior Grand Prix start of the season won gold with a dynamic routine to Peter Gabriel by almost 15 points over a Russian team in Ostrava.

Canada had already started off with two silver medals in dance in the first two events: Madeline Edwards and ZhaoKai Pang got off to a fast start in Courcheval, France the first week, and Brianna Delmaestro and Timothy Lum charmed their way to a silver in Ljubljana, Slovenia the next week.

In Ostrava, Canada’s junior champions Mackenzie Bent and Garrett MacKeen won gold in their fourth Junior Grand Prix season, blasting their previous personal best for their free skate by 7 ½ points, finishing up with 82.42 for a routine that looks more mature than last year.

And 15-year-old Roman Sadovsky won gold in the men’s event, also decimating his personal best with a “Les Miserables” program. His free skate score of 124.57 was almost seven points better than his previous best and although he was third in the free skate, his component score was the highest. And he has room to grow. He fell on a triple loop as he dealt with a new experience: being first after the short program in an international competition.

There are four events left: Nagoya, Japan this week, Tallinn, Estonia from September 24 -28; Dresden, Germany from October 1-5 and Zagreb, Croatia from October 8-12. Not all events feature pair events. Seguin and Bilodeau are out again at Dresden. So are Sadovsky and Delmaestro and Lum.

The Junior Grand Prix will feature Canadians that haven’t been out in the world before: a couple of 13-year-olds (Grace Lin from Yvan Desjardins’ stable in Montreal and Sarah Tamura who skates with Joanne MacLeod in British Columbia) will compete in Japan this week, where there will be no pair competition. Edwards and Pang will show their wares again in dance.

As the season wears on, Slipchuk says it will be interesting to see how Sadovsky, still young, fares. “He just keeps improving,” Slipchuk said. “I think he’ll be in the mix in the men.” He also looks to a new Canadian on the scene, Selena Zhao, who has a triple flip – triple toe loop (“It’s what the junior ladies are doing now,” Slipchuk said) in her arsenal, as a skater with the skills to be in the top half.

“We would like to see a fair amount of our skaters get into the top 10 or top eight,” Slipchuk said. “I think a few of them have a chance, given the event and the field. Some could be in the top five.”

Currently the Russians and Japanese are dominating the Junior Grand Prix circuit. Last year the Russians swept all four gold medals at the Junior Grand Prix Final and they also took over the entire pairs podium. The United States has always been a strong contender in the past. Canada has hovered between third and fifth place in the standings over the years. “We always look at longevity,” Slipchuk said. “We’ve never been a country that has been dominant on the circuit, but we transition well to senior and I’ve always felt that it is something that we don’t want to lose sight of. We want our skaters to keep improving.”

Canadian Skaters En Route to ISU Junior Grand Prix Japan

OTTAWA, ON: Skate Canada will send five entries, for a total of seven skaters to the fourth stop on the ISU Junior Grand Prix circuit in Aichi, Japan, from September 10-14, 2014. Canada will have one entry in men’s, two entries in ladies, and two entries in ice dance. There will be no pair competition at the event.

World junior bronze medalists Madeline Edwards, 18, Port Moody, B.C., and ZhaoKai Pang, 19, Burnaby, B.C., will lead the way for Canada in ice dance. Edwards and Pang won silver at the first ISU Junior Grand Prix this season in Courchevel, France. Last season, they placed seventh at the 2014 Canadian Tire National Skating Championships in the senior category. The representatives of Burnaby FSC are coached by Megan Wing and Aaron Lowe at the Champs International Skating Centre.

Lauren Collins, 18, Minesing, Ont., and Shane Firus, 20, North Vancouver, B.C., are the second Canadian entry in ice dance. Both Collins and Firus have previously competed for Canada on the ISU Junior Grand Prix circuit, but the representatives of Barrie SC and Vancouver SC will be making their international debut together, having teamed up in early 2014. They are coached by David Islam and Kelly Johnson at the Mariposa School of Skating in Barrie, Ont.

Nicolas Nadeau, 16, Boisbriand, Que., will be the sole Canadian entry in the men’s division, making his ISU Junior Grand Prix debut. Last season, the representative of CPA Boisbriand placed fourth at the 2014 Canadian Tire National Skating Championships in the junior category. He is coached by Yvan Desjardins at the École Excellence Rosemère.

Sarah Tamura, 13, Burnaby, B.C., is one of two Canadian entries in ladies. This will be her first ISU Junior Grand Prix assignment. Representing Burnaby FSC, she is the 2014 Canadian novice women’s champion. Tamura is coached by Joanne McLeod, Jill-Marie Harvey, and Neil Wilson at the Champs International Skating Centre.

Grace Lin, 13, Dollard-Des-Ormeaux, Que., will also represent Canada in ladies, and will also be competing at her first international assignment. Last season, representing Dollard FSC, she placed 12th at the 2014 Canadian Tire National Skating Championships in the novice category. She is coached by Yvan Desjardins and Violaine Emard in Rosmere, Que.

Cynthia Ullmark of Canmore, Alta., will be the Canadian team leader and physiotherapist Karen Seymour of Toronto, Ont., will be the Canadian medical staff onsite. Glenn Fortin of Aurora, Ont., and Sylvain Guibord of Brossard, Que., are the Canadian officials at the event.

The ISU will be live streaming the competition via the ISU Junior Grand Prix YouTube channel. For results and full entries please visit


Discipline Name Age Hometown Club Coach
Mens Nicolas Nadeau 16 Boisbriand, Que. CPA Boisbriand Yvan Desjardins
Ladies Sarah Tamura 13 Burnaby, B.C. Burnaby FSC Joanne McLeod / Jill-Marie Harvey / Neil Wilson
Ladies Grace Lin 13 Dollard-Des-Ormeaux, Que. Dollard FSC Yvan Desjardins / Violaine Emard
Ice Dance Madeline Edwards / ZhaoKai Pang 18/19 Port Moody, B.C. / Burnaby, B.C. Inlet SC / Inlet SC Megan Wing / Aaron Lowe
Ice dance Lauren Collins / Shane Firus 18/20 Minesing, Ont./ North Vancouver, B.C. Barrie SC/ Vancouver SC David Islam / Kelly Johnson

“Les Miserables” performance brings gold to Canada’s Roman Sadovsky

OSTRAVA, Czech Republic – Roman Sadovsky of Vaughan, Ont., earned Canada’s third gold medal at the third stop on the ISU Junior Grand Prix figure skating circuit on Saturday winning the men’s singles competition.

Sadovsky interpreted his long program to music from Les Miserables to finish atop the standings with 192.08 points. Alexander Samarin of Russia was second at 188.69 and Sei Kawahara of Japan third at 184.69.

For Sadovsky it was his first gold and second career medal on the circuit. He led after a superb short program Friday and his long skate scored third best but was still enough to keep him first overall.

“It’s amazing to get the victory,” said Sadovsky, 15. “It was a real nerve-wracking experience. I had never gone into a long at this level standing in first place. The mistakes I did make I was able to quickly put them behind me.”

Sadovsky executed seven triple jumps and demonstrated amazing flexibility in his free skate. His only mishap was not hanging on to a triple toe-loop jump in the middle of his program.

“My goal for this year is to eventually have a solid triple Axel in the long program,” he said. “The speed and flow of the routine are also improving. I’m not sure what happened with the toe-loop today. It’s usually a sure jump for me.”

In women’s competition, Kim DeGuise-Léveillée of Sorel-Tracy, Que., delivered two clean programs in her international debut, including Saturday’s free skate, to place eighth overall. She ranked sixth for the long to climb from 10th spot after the short.

The 16-year-old also landed a triple Lutz in competition for the first time in her career.

“I skated very well,” she said. “The hard work paid off. Landing the Lutz was one of my big objectives at this event. I also felt strong at the end of the program and improved the artistic aspects of my skating.”

Canada ends the competition with three gold. On Friday, victories were earned by Mackenzie Bent of Uxbridge, Ont., and Garrett MacKeen of Oshawa, Ont., in ice dancing and Julianne Séguin of Longueuil, Que., and Charlie Bilodeau of Trois-Pistoles, Que., in pairs.

The fourth stop on the circuit is Thursday to Saturday (September 11-13) in Aichi, Japan.

Videos of routines available on the ISU YouTube channel

Full results: