National champion Bausback looking ahead, not behind

Even in a world that seems to be standing still at the moment, Emily Bausback can’t help but move forward.


Confined to quarantine in her first months as the reigning Canadian women’s champion, the 18-year-old from New Westminster, B.C. took up several hobbies during the shutdown, including a newfound passion for cycling.

Bausback has found her own personal escape from the unpredictability of the new skating season, often climbing on her bike and getting away for hours at a time. Sometimes her travels take her to the University of British Columbia campus, but more often than not she pedals down to the Seawall in Vancouver’s Stanley Park, offering her a picturesque view of the majestic Vancouver skyline, and some quiet time alone to reflect on an unusual nine months.

One day, Bausback did a round-trip 60 kilometres, but she thinks her personal best is closer to 80.

She can’t say for sure.

“My watch died halfway through, so I couldn’t really track how far I’d gone,” says Bausback with a laugh.

“I love it. It’s just me and my bike. It’s allowed me a lot of time with my thoughts,” she adds. “Cycling helped me get some time to myself to reflect on last season and everything that has happened since.”

And what a season it was. A year that started on the Junior Grand Prix circuit culminated at the Canadian Tire National Skating Championships in Mississauga, Ont., where Bausback and coach Joanne McLeod were targeting a top-5 finish in the senior women’s event.

They did a little better than that, finding the top of the podium at the Hershey Centre.

“Becoming a national champion is everyone’s dream, but we weren’t sure if we would progress that quickly and win it by end of the season,” Bausback admits. “When I did end up winning, it was absolutely incredible. I can’t describe the feeling. It was surreal.”

“I’m just trying to stay positive. This is my first time as a national champion, so everything is new to me. There’s not a year I can compare it to.”

One thing is for certain – it has been a year of firsts for Bausback.

In June, she graduated from high school in the most unconventional of ways, as these strange times dictate. Her graduation ceremony was held online and, the following day, Bausback and her fellow graduates were invited to the school in groups of 20, adhering to strict social distancing guidelines. Her school set up a makeshift stage, which she was able to walk across in a mock ceremony, and she was able to enjoy the time-honoured graduation traditions of getting photos taken with her parents and strolling the halls of her school one last time.

She is now enrolled in her first year of the Kinesiology program at Simon Fraser University, taking her classes in a virtual setting. Bausback had originally planned to take a gap year from Simon Fraser so she could compete internationally, but the COVID-19 pandemic changed those plans.

“It’s been an interesting year,” she says. “Winning in Mississauga was probably the greatest moment of my entire life, but what’s happening now, it’s almost hard to remember what the world was like pre-COVID before everything shut down.

“I was looking forward to competing internationally and having my debut on the Grand Prix circuit. But I know there will be another chance. I’m optimistic nationals will happen, and I am motivated every day to defend my title.”

With her home rink at Champs International Skating Centre of BC still closed in April, Bausback found ice time in nearby Abbotsford until Champs re-opened their doors a couple of months later. Working with McLeod and choreographers Lance Vipond and Neil Wilson, she will debut two new programs once competition resumes, skating her short program to The One I Love by Ellen Krauss and her free program to the spiritual Italian piece Alla Notte (Adagio) by Miriam Stockley.

It may not be the way she envisioned spending her first year as a national champion, but Bausback is grateful to all those who helped her get to the top of Canada’s figure skating mountain.

“My parents, my family, my skating family at Champs and Joanne, who has been with me since the beginning, I owe so much to them,” she says.

“It feels like we won this together.”

For now, it’s one day, and one step, at a time. Bausback hopes when her skating journey resumes, it will lead to Beijing 2022.

“We aren’t going to change anything in our plans,” she says. “Our goal is to make the 2022 Olympics, and we’re going to stick to that.”

In every sense, Emily Bausback is looking ahead, and not behind. She knows the best is still in front of her.



Behind the Blades for Safe Sport: Gabrielle Daleman

After a very long and exciting season and then being asked to be in Stars on Ice I was ready to come home and regroup for the Olympic year. Stars on Ice was a dream come true for me and working with the incredible cast with so much talent had me over the moon. I was heartbroken when I had to leave the tour due to an illness. I am now recovering and looking forward to getting my new choreography for the upcoming season.

My journey as a young skater was not always easy and achieving the success I had this season didn’t come without tears of happiness and of sadness. All those tears, good and bad, helped me along my journey.

Being bullied as a young girl has given me courage and taught me perseverance. When athletes face the challenge of being hurt or when an illness strikes we have very little resources left to fight through it because we give everything every day in our training. Being bullied because I couldn’t read or spell correctly was terrible but it gave me the strength to fight through it with my skating.

Now being sick it is giving me the courage to work through this so I can go back to the sport I love and the place I call home. Skating has given me so much in my life and I am grateful for all of it. I get to travel the world doing what I love.

Having a Learning Disability, ADHD and Anxiety has been a challenge but through my freedom on the ice I get the relief I need to get away from my struggles and soar. So many people have their own struggles and we need to be kind to each other. We never know what someone is going through.

Skate Canada supports Safe Sport and we can all be a part of that by being understanding, tolerant and inclusive. I am proud to be a champion for Safe Sport and would love to see more being done in arenas around Canada to show kids that every effort is important, whether we are skating for fun or at a competitive level. Bullying, harassment and abuse should not be tolerated. We must appreciate each other for who we are and understand people have limitations. No one should ever be made to feel bad simply for who they are. We need to teach kids at the grassroots level about these important messages. This will help them to build the skills in life needed to get through the good but especially the bad times.

Take the time today to tell someone in your life that what they do is important and to never give up on what they love. Work hard, follow your dreams and don’t ever let anyone tell you you’re not good enough because you are!!!

Behind The Blades with Kaitlyn Weaver

*Crunch, crunch, crunch*

weaver3The unmistakable sound of fresh packed snow underneath my boots is like music to my ears. “Aaah, winter…” I think to myself. “It’s back.” But much has changed since Andrew and I have been blanketed by November’s powder.

This year, winter found us in Moscow, Russia, our part-time training base for the 2016/2017 figure skating season. After a disappointing finish to last season, my partner and I took the time to go back to the drawing board in the Spring, shut the world out, and understand what it was that WE needed. And as the pre-Olympic season was looming, THAT was the time to make any drastic changes. And drastic changes we made. We enlisted living-choreographic-legend Nikolai Morozov to our coaching team, and relocated to New Jersey, with the knowledge that much of our training would also take place in the other Great White North: Russia. To outsiders, it seemed scary. And a piece of me was definitely scared too, to tell the truth. But with change comes growth, and with necessity, fear becomes obsolete. Andrew and I were positive that we needed to challenge ourselves with something new. “Big risk, big reward” we thought, and we’re working hard to make it so.

weaver-1Relocating to Jersey from our previous long-time training location of Detroit, Michigan wasn’t too difficult. Being within a stone’s throw of New York City is nothing short of inspiring, and we feed off the energy and possibility that the area has to offer. But when it came to Russia, we weren’t sure what to expect.

Armed with warm layers, protein bars, and Google translate, we traveled to Moscow eager to embrace this new aspect of our skating. And so far, it has been a success. The training centre is beautiful, the rink attendants and other coaches treat us fairly and with kindness, and having friends in the city has made an immeasurable impact. Although I had a basic understanding of the Russian language and cyrillic, Andrew and I have learned so much together, and that helps make this city feel like a second home. We can get around, order at restaurants, and hold a polite conversation. Don’t get me wrong, there are (lots of) times that I just want to walk into a Timmy’s and order a coffee and a pack of Timbits without thinking twice, but all-in-all, we are doing well.

weaver2Soon it was time for our first competition, also to be held in Moscow: Rostelecom Cup in the beginning of November. And conveniently, the official hotel was just minutes down the road from our training centre dorms. I have to admit, I felt a little defensive when I overheard other competitors complaining about Russia’s snowy weather .. I felt, like in Canada, winter has to be understood and embraced and loved rather than loathed! But no matter, the competition was quite a success. Two great outings of our new programs— representations of a new life in the dance team of Weaver/Poje and the seedlings of a fresh energy and momentum due to find its peak at the Olympics in Pyeongchang, 2018. The Russian audience, never short of passion and enthusiasm, welcomed us with warmth and energy. We left happy, invigorated, and motivated to continue our growth in the birthplace of ice dance, and also back in our new home of New Jersey with our glowing hearts never letting go of their Canadian roots.

While we can’t wait to return home to our beloved Canada, this season is the definition of adventure and growth, and as an athlete, it’s what I live for. We are always striving to make our country proud and we hope you enjoy joining our journey.

See you on the ice!

Behind The Blades With Lubov Ilyushechkina

Welcome to my second blog!

The Grand Prix season has started and the second stop is already over. Amazing how quickly the time is passing by. It feels like the summer was just yesterday but you see people wearing their topcoats. Very useful at the rink though!

Well, enough of the small talk – let’s get to the main topic.

lubov2It was my third Skate Canada Grand Prix, and second at the Hershey Centre in Mississauga. We are quite familiar with this arena as every year the High Performance Camp is held there in the smaller community rinks. The camp this is also where we film our fun videos and take our team photographs. You will see many of the videos on the Jumbotron at Skate Canada International and the Canadian Tire National Skating Championships.

Actually, it was fun to watch myself do something else rather than skating.

There was a clip played where Meagan was hosting our game “How Well Do You Know Your Partner?”

“Who is more tired after your long program run through?”

I said “The coach!”

These videos give the fans a little insight into our lives beyond our skating. It brings out more of an open view of what our personalities are like off the ice. And they keep you entertained during the flood or breaks in between the events.

I really hope that you enjoyed watching the competition. It is still the beginning of the season, and not all the athletes are at their peak yet. When you come out to compete, you want to bring all your focus, strength, passsion and love of figure skating to the highest level and show a beautiful performance.

But falls and failures still happen. Of cource, it is always disappointing, but the errors show the areas you need to strenghthen. Competing at the highest level requires us to have a certain set of elements. Most of the athletes are usually very capable to perform at a high quality, and some athletes even do more elements than they need in their programs.. It always comes down to delivering, under pressure, at the right moment.

lubov1During the competition you always have a chance to see all the skaters and all your skating friends that you don’t see during the training year. I was happy to meet my old teammates, spend some time with them and tell about my life in Canada.

I was glad to compete at home in front of the Canadian fans, seeing a lot of Maple Leafs in the arena. This event was successful for Canada, with our athletes on the podium in all disciplines. Dylan and I got our first Grand Prix medal together – and my first Grand Prix medal for Canada !!!

Last year, we had three trips to Asia, each  flight lasting 12 hours or more. Now we only had a 30-minute car ride from home. It’s a noticeable difference!

We still have one assignment coming up, and my next blog will be after Cup of China!

I hope this colorful autumn will bring you a lot of joy and peace.

Always yours,
Lubov Ilyushechkina

Behind The Blades With Michelle Long: Skate Canada International

long4Flashback to 2003, Hershey’s Center Mississauga, Skate Canada International: As an eager eleven-year-old and lover of figure skating, I was so excited when I found out there was a big skating competition coming to town. Without knowing much about the competitive side of the sport, I went with my mom, sister and a friend to attend the official practices at Skate Canada International 2003. I remember sitting in the stands, watching, in amazement. My favourite part was when the practice was over. We would rush down, over to the boards, to ask the skaters for their autograph. I was so new into the sport that I only knew a few of the skaters (mostly Canadians) but I didn’t care. I still wanted their autograph because, in my eyes, they were famous!

Skate Canada International has always had a special place in my heart. I believe that having the opportunity to watch such a high level competition, at such a young age, really inspired me to be a competitive skater! Now, attending events like this later in my skating career have definitely not hindered their magic. I still get excited to watch some of the best skaters in the world compete, but now instead of asking for their autographs, I am able to converse and learn from them.

long3One of the highlights of my weekend was actually being able to be a fan, sit back, relax and enjoy the skating! Usually, I am most interested in the ladies event, since that’s what I compete in. I have to give a shout out to both of our Canadian ladies, Kaetlyn and Alaine, for both skating fierce short and free programs. Once their event had finished, I was able to sit with Kaetlyn, chat, and watch some world class skating!

I was so impressed with the level of athleticism and performances from the Canadian team. Some of my favourite moments were Kevin’s quad-filled free program, Megan and Eric’s throw triple axel and Piper and Paul’s post free dance celebration!

long5A friend of mine made a donation to the Skate Canada Athlete Fund, and bid on an opportunity at Skate Canada International for a backstage ‘behind the scenes’ tour with Elvis Stojko. I was fortunate enough to be brought along for this amazing experience. I was shown around the dressing rooms, warm up area, data rooms and media centre. I got to see some of the skaters warm up and getting ready for the Gala on Sunday. The coolest part was seeing the press conference area. It is so much larger than what you see on television. There was a large head table for the athletes, and surrounding that were smaller tables and chairs, filled with photographers, video cameras and microphones, something I had never scene before, nor was prepared for. Elvis also had some great advice for me as someone aspiring to be at an event of this calibre one day. He spoke with me about his experiences with the media, how to prepare for interviews and how to overcome obstacles. These were all very valuable lessons that I hope to be able to put into action one day! long2

Over the course of my weekend, I was able to get out and talk to some of the fans. I also ran into some familiar faces. Many skaters from my training centre were in attendance, as well as many of the regular skating fans and veteran competition goers. It was great to hear the positive comments from the fans and to see their enthusiasm. I was also given some advice on what to bring to a competition:

1. Wear your team colours: Red and White, Go Canada Go!
2. Bring a flag: from your home town, country, or favourite skater’s country!
3. Something to keep track of the scores. A program, or good old-fashioned pen and paper work well!
4. Bundle up: sometimes those rinks can get chilly, bring along your Skate Canada sweaters, scarves and mittens!
5. Your skating stories: everyone in the audience has one, listen to someone’s story and share yours!

All-in-all, the fans were super supportive and cheered the skaters one whether they were having the performance of a lifetime, or needed some help to continue. The number of times the audience started clapping in time to the music during footwork was amazing! Everyone, young and old, found themselves immersed in the experience and were able to get involved! It was also incredible to witness the younger skaters carry the same joy as I did when I was a youngster.

The greatest feeling was being able to see the sparkle in their eyes. It’s amazing to see the next generation inspired and as excited like I was.


Behind The Blades with Meagan Duhamel: Skate Canada International

Another Skate Canada International has come and gone and as we say good-bye to Mississauga and the Hershey Centre, we are left with some amazing memories. Mississauga did a great job playing host to the 2016 Skate Canada International and everyone I talked to enjoyed the events at the Hershey Centre. And how could you not? There were numerous personal best performances, sold out crowds and enthusiastic media coverage of the event.

International skaters love to come to Canada for events because the crowd always welcomes them as their own. It doesn’t matter where you are from, you will receive support and love from the Canadian audience.

SCI Gala Practice (Meagan Duhamel)It was fun to reconnect with some of my old skating friends this week as well. Hao Zhang, Yuko Kavaguti, Alexander Smirnov, Eric, Dylan and I have all been competing together for a very, very long time. It was fun to all be at the same competition together, us “old” pair skaters, still fighting and still pushing the sport forward.

And how can a Canadian not be completely inspired by last week’s skating? Katelyn and Alaine managed to throw down two amazing programs each, and they showed the World that Canadian Ladies are a force to be reckoned with. Liam Firus achieved a new personal best long program score, and that’s only a shade of what he is truly capable of achieving. That score will only continue to go up from here. Kevin Reynolds came back to Grand Prix competition after a few years away and made a huge statement with his short and long program that earned him a bronze medal. I love watching Kevin seize opportunities like he did in Mississauga, it always makes me so excited and it’s something that I have come to expect from Kevin.

Patrick showed us what he does best: beautiful, effortless, seamless skating combined with musicality and complex choreography. He always leaves all the other skaters in awe of his basic skating ability. This week, Patrick also showed that he wants to be back on top of the skating World, by attempting a new quad jump for the first time, the quad sal. We saw him land it in practice and it won’t be long before he’s nailing a 3-quad long program, which will be more then enough for him to contend with the crazy quad faze that is going on in men’s skating.

The dance teams were also all beautiful. Alex and Mitch shone as they showcased gorgeous programs and costumes at the Hershey Centre. They have beautiful attention to detail, something I always admire with them. Piper and Paul put their stamp on the ice dance world this week in a big way! They have worked hard and it showed. Their programs are mature, intricate and powerful. I’m just making a guess here, but I think they will surprise a lot of people this season. Their 110-point free dance proved that.

It seemed like most people at the Hershey Centre came to watch the return of Tessa and Scott, and they lived up to the buzz. I thought they created two uniquely beautiful programs this year, and they have managed to step back into competition so no one would not be able to guess that they’ve been away from the sport for a few years. So respectable.

And my favourite, the pairs event! It was a strong event, with many teams battling for a spot on the podium, and potentially a spot in the Grand Prix Final. Britany and Josh skated very well and they will use this event as a stepping stone to future international competitions, as well as the Canadian Championships. Lubov and Dylan also had a good event, winning their first Grand Prix medal with bronze. Although they had some errors, they still pulled big scores, showing nicely choreographed programs and strong pair elements. And then there was us ….

Eric and I showed up at SCI 2016 with a mission in our short program: The Throw Triple Axel. We worked hard tweaking our short program after Finlandia Trophy to ensure the triple axel would be assessable and the program would be preformed with high energy and sharp movements. In practice, our throw triple axel has gained consistency. I’d say it’s at an 85% success rate at home, and during the practice sessions at SCI, so we felt like our odds were good. I had a good feeling all day leading into the short program. I felt calm, confident and sure of myself and our ability to hit a great short program. I had to remind myself, and Eric, before we skated that “When we land that triple axel, let’s try to stay calm so we don’t make any silly mistakes afterwards”. Well, I did land the triple axel, but I didn’t quite stay so calm after, there was some stumbles and a lack of complete “Smoothness” but I’ll take it for October.

The energy that builds in our short program, set to music from Seal, is crazy and the crowd knew what we were planning on doing, which along with a triple axel throw, also included a side-by-side triple lutz, another high-risk manoeuvre. In addition to having a blast during our short program, we were so pleased to see that we set a new personal best score of 78.3. We are already thinking about how we can reach 80 points for our next Grand Prix, NHK Trophy.

Resetting after such a big moment is very, very difficult. We focused a lot on the short program coming into this event, and with that being a huge success, I did have a thought going into the long of “What are my goals?” We just hadn’t thought about it too much, because our focus was on the short program coming in. I feel like we zoned in well and focused to deliver a strong long program. Sadly, I took an uncharacteristic, terrible fall on the quad throw at the beginning of the long program, but we reset well and still managed a strong, emotional performance. We know we can develop more nuances in our long program, and deliver better quality side-by-side jumps (each of them received minus 1s for the most part). This will be a big focus as we prepare for the NHK Trophy.

It was announced that next year Skate Canada International will go back west, to Regina, Saskatchewan. I have no doubt that Regina will do an incredible job organizing this event, and that the hard-core skating fans (I’m one of them!!!), and local individuals from Regina, will come support all the skaters.

Thanks for joining me, and everyone else from Skate Canada in Mississauga this week. Can’t wait to see you all in the near future!

Behind The Blades with Kaetlyn Osmond: Skate Canada International

My bags were packed, I was ready, and I was off to the airport to begin my short journey to Mississauga for Skate Canada International! Only my short journey became a little bit longer than expected. Two hours delayed leaving Edmonton, a short flight, a quick trip to the hotel, and the registration process complete: I had the perfect amount of time to collapse onto my bed and sleep for my early morning trek to the rink.

Practice Day. This day involves getting the lay of the rink and know where everything is. I scout out where I want to do my warmups, where the dressing rooms are, and where we get on/off the ice. Knowing all these things allows me to feel more relaxed when I am doing what I have to do. It lets me focus on what my job is. The practice day includes two practices. It also includes a few media interviews, and the opening press conference, and of course, the draw for the short program.

kaetlyn1Competition days! To be completely honest, I am the most boring person on competition day. My alarm clock goes off at 5:30am. I had to be super quiet not to wake my roommate who was competing later that night. I did my hair. I put my makeup on. Grabbed my skates and my dresses, then left my room to eat and catch the early bus to the rink. At the rink, it is always the same process. Warmup, skate, cool down, and catch the bus back to the hotel. Then it is a much-needed rest up before I compete. There is a nice nap involved, card games, colouring, a little walk outside to freshen up, and then some food to fuel up. The time between practice and competition is really finding ways to distract myself, while still staying relaxed and ready.

About an hour before it is time to head back to the rink, it is time to get ready. Time to redo my hair and makeup, while watching my tv show choice of the competition: this time, it was Supergirl!

kaetlyn3When it is all over, I enjoyed the rest of the event as much as I could. I was beyond happy with how well I had done. I was amongst so many other amazing skaters that I love to watch. There were so many friends and fans in the stands that I wanted to be a part of. So, that is exactly what I did. I became a part of the crowd. I watched the remaining events with Elvis Stojko, his wife, Gladys, and my national team member and friend, Michelle Long. The next morning, I got to hang out with the other skaters for the gala and just have fun, enjoying celebrating the event we just finished. The gala is always my favourite part of the event. It is a time to celebrate, skate, and thank every single fan for coming to the competition and continuously supporting the sport.

Then it was just time to head home.

It is amazing how fast the competition week goes. So much anticipation to get there. Then all of a sudden it is time to go home and train for the next event. Though, I will always celebrate with my friends when I get home. This time, it was with a giant bowl of delicious coffee.


Behind the Blades with Kevin Reynolds: Ondrej Nepela 2016

We were a small but lively team of four Canadian athletes competing at the 24th Ondrej Nepela Memorial in Bratislava for the 5th stop in the ISU Challenger Series. It was an exciting week, and marked a nice way to start off my season with invaluable overseas competition experience.

After landing in Vienna and just a short shuttle across the Austria-Slovakia border, we arrived in downtown Bratislava. We stayed at the Hotel Lindner – a comfortable, modern hotel connected to an upscale shopping mall – which was a convenient 10-minute walk from the Ondrej Nepela Stadium and Arena. The venue itself was beautiful, with numerous small historical photographs decorating the halls and pillars, including the iconic home-ice victory of Ondrej Nepela at the 1973 World Figure Skating Championships.

kevin-pic-1Despite our focus and spending majority of our time on competition preparations, the time we did have exploring what we could of Bratislava was quite enjoyable, with the last days of summer seemingly lingering around for us until we departed (it was a balmy 26˚C on our days there).

After the free programs had finished and the competition had come to a close, we had some time to head to the historic Old Town at night via tram. Having a chance to walk around and see the beautiful aged buildings amongst bustling Saturday night crowds was definitely a highlight of the trip. We concluded with an idyllic team dinner overlooking the cobblestoned city avenues, where we tasted some local Slovak dishes. Bryndzové Halušky (small potato dumplings with goat cheese and smoked bacon bits) was a popular choice, and we tried a dessert that we had thought would be apple-filled by the photographs, but ended up being Makovník (a sweet pastry/roll made with ground poppy seeds and milk). It was interesting – mainly because we couldn’t for the life of us guess what the filling was – but still delightful.

At the suggestion of Joanne, our team leader for the week, we decided to commemorate our final night by taking a few team pictures before we left –Mackenzie and Dmitre tried their hand at some dance lifts, drawing considerable attention and a group of female photo bombers at one point. It was a fun way and a great note to end our trip on.

Had a great team dinner with some awesome new friends! ????

A photo posted by Dmitre Razgulajevs (@dmitre_r) on

So now, after nearly 24 hours of travel (and many irregular sleep intervals later), I am back home in Vancouver and ready to resume training. I can’t wait to see what the season holds ahead!

Until next time,


Behind the Blades with Michelle Long: Autumn Classic International 2016

On any given day, I am a pretty emotional person. But when I stood out on the ice, took off my team Canada jacket, and heard the announcer call “from Canada, Michelle Long”, I couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed with emotions: pride, anticipation, and pure joy. With only 30 seconds to hit my beginning pose, I had to focus on the short program, at my first international event, representing Canada.

This experience is one I have been waiting and working for, my entire career as a senior level skater. Before making it onto the ice as a National Team member, I was a skating fan, attending as many events in the area as possible, to watch the best skaters in the world. Now, I was sharing the ice with some of those skaters I have been watching for years. That was pretty cool!

michelle-pic-2Although my competition week consisted mainly of early mornings, healthy meals, naps and a little bit of skating, some very interesting things happened. After my very first official practice, as all of us skaters were exiting the ice I went to grab my team jacket – and noticed there was a spider on it. Now it doesn’t sound scary, but to someone like me who is terrified of spiders, it was! I shrieked in front of an arena full of spectators and my fellow competitors. I felt my heart racing but it was a good way to break the ice, and we all had a good laugh about it after.

Once the competition was underway, the nerves started to set in.  I am generally not a skater who gets nervous for competitions, but with the new experience in front of me, I started to feel some pressure to perform well.  Knowing that I had nothing to lose and everything to gain, I went for it and gave it my best performance.  Although these programs were not my best technically, I can take so many positives from this event, and can honestly say that I am so excited to get back to training for whatever comes next.

The highlight of my weekend came after my competition had finally ended. Since the Ladies event was the first to finish, I was able to sit back and watch, and cheer on the rest of my team! I was amazed and overwhelmed by the amount of support from the audience, my competitors, and my fellow Canadian teammates.  Since Montreal is a popular training location, many of the skaters that train in the area also came to watch and cheer on the team. So many of them took the time to talk to me about my performance, the experience, and to give me advice for the future. Those are words that I will never forget! That and, “from Canada, Michelle Long!”


Behind the Blades with Paul Poirier: Nebelhorn Trophy 2016

My dearest Oberstdorf, where to begin?

It was my first week back to the charming alpine town in nearly 10 years (last time was for Junior Worlds in 2007); I was not disappointed. After many hours on the plane, a few in a van, there she was, as quaint as I remembered. We were lodged at the Hotel Mohren, across from the church. Oberstdorf can easily be navigated via landmarks: “turn right at the ice cream shop,” or perhaps “walk towards the ski jump and eventually you’ll end up at the rink.”

poirier-pic1In all we were a Canadian team of six ready to trek up the cow-dung-laden streets to the Eissportzentrum where we began our international season. Everyone was provided with two practices on Wednesday, and an ample time to get oriented. Our coach Carol, Piper and I completed our day by meeting the ISU committee to clarify details on our pattern dance (which is slowly coming along, name still TBD).

Competition days are rather boring. Besides the odd bit of skating we spend most of our time couped up in a room being nervous, napping, or going for a walk to avoid cabin fever.

The competition was a success for both Piper and I, and the Canadian team as a whole; we brought home the Nebelhorn Trophy for best overall team. Luckily, as we were the first to finish, Piper and I had the opportunity to enjoy the performances of our teammates stress-free.

poirier-pic2In way of celebration on Friday night, Carol and our dear friend Ingeborg brought us to a restaurant above the rink for some Bavarian käsespätzle (egg noodles with sharp cheese and fried onions). Piper and I also managed to hike the Nebelhorn (foghorn) mountain via cable car on Saturday to enjoy the view before hustling back down to skate in the gala.

After a full week of rich memories, it was already time to go home. To end I’ll share with you a few things I learned about Oberstdorf during my stay:

  1. There are approximately 19 cows in Oberstdorf. On Wednesday there was a big celebration as the cows were brought back into town from the mountains – alas, I was sleeping in!
  2. The cable car crosses into Austria and then crosses back into Germany.
  3. Oberstdorf continues its reign for having the #1 breakfast (because I must write about food).
  4. Oberstdorf is the only place I’ve been to where I can wear lederhosen in public and not get stared at – yes, I tried!

More to come!


Behind the Blades with Lubov Ilyushechkina: Nebelhorn Trophy 2016

Hi everyone!

I’m excited to announce my first blog. Here I’d like to share with you some inside information about being a figure skater, sharing moments from our routine, memorable events and so forth.

Germany was the only country left, on the places I wanted to visit. Either a big city or a small town I was looking forward to complete my wish-to-visit-countries list.

Dylan and I stayed in a sophisticated european style hotel in the centre of Obersdorf. The impression of the town was positive, from the old-fashioned architectural buildings, friendly windows sprinkled by flowers to the winding streets paved by massive rocks. Men of all ages dressed up as cowboys as they followed the herd of cows from the mountain across the town. The enviroment was breathing by a charm and an antiquity brought through the time.

The weather was very nice. You know that feeling when you wake up, open the window, slowly breath in the fresh morning air, raise your hands up and your lips start stretching in the joyful smile? That’s how four of my mornings had started except the last one, when we left before the sunrise. That definitely set the mood to enjoy every single day.

I’m already missing you, Obersdorf! @NebelhornTrophy2016 @lindamoscovitch thanks for the picture!

A photo posted by Lubov Ilyushechkina (@lubov_ilyushechkina) on

With all of this positive and relaxing enviroment, I did not feel nervous or worried. The practices went well – we were consistent with our elements, trusted our training and all our hard work. Our coach Lee Barkell, said: “Nothing more, nothing less. You dont need an extra effort.” Isn’t that great advice?

We went to do the run through with the feeling of lightness and enjoyment from the beginning to the end of each program. The goal was to make all the elements look like one action with the choreography, transitions and emotions. Training does not compare to the experience you’ll get from competition, considering the adrenaline rush and unexpected change of plans.  So we wanted to see how all the patterns, tricks and skating worked under the pressure. Here is a good thing, it didn’t change much. Each program felt like one motion with it’s own character. We were happy about our performance and received a lot of positive feedback about the elements, programs and outfits. Of course there is always more to improve. But this is the beginning of the season, and I’m sure that the next time you will see a better version of ourselves.

One more thing I want to mention that is very important to me is our award. We had our award ceremony after the long program and then we had a team award. In total with the overall score, #TeamCanada came first in this competition. I’m so proud to know I was  part of this great success! The country I love, won!

I was honored to go to the team award ceremony and to hold the Trophy. I was glowing of triumph while listening to “O, Canada.” And this is only the beginning.

I hope my little story lasted some tender emotions in your hearts like Obersdorf left in mine. Wish you only the best and positive emotions, just like Germany gave me.

Take care!
Always yours,

Lubov Ilyushechkina