So close to podium for Conrad Orzel at ISU Junior Grand Prix

LJUBLJANA, Slovenia – Conrad Orzel of Woodbridge, Ont., came within 0.01 points of reaching the podium on Friday in a fourth place finish in men’s competition at the sixth stop on the ISU Junior Grand Prix figure skating circuit.

Petr Gumennik of Russia won the gold medal with 219.25 points. Tomoki Hiwatashi of the U.S. was second at 215.16 and Koshiro Shimada of Japan was third at 212.95. Orzel, fifth after Thursday’s short program, followed at 212.94 with the fourth best free skate.

Both Orzel’s overall score and free skate score were personal international bests. He was fourth at his other Junior Grand Prix assignment in Austria last month. In his free skate to music from Romeo and Juliet, he landed the quad Salchow and quad toe as well as two triple Axels including one in combination.

In ice dancing after the short dance, Ellie Fisher and Simon-Pierre Malette-Paquette of Montreal are fifth less than three points out of third place. Alicia Fabbri of Terrebonne, Que., and Paul Ayer of Brossard, Que., are sixth less than seven points off a podium position.

In the women’s short program, Aurora Cotop of Thornhill, Ont., placed 11th.

Competition ends Saturday with the free dance and women’s free skate.

Full results ISU Junior Grand Prix:

Canadians in medal hunt in Finland

ESPOO, Finland – Action got underway Friday at the Finlandia Open in Espoo, Finland.

After the short programs, Kirsten Moore-Towers of St. Catharines, Ont., and Michael Marinaro of Sarnia, Ont., are third in pairs; Nicolas Nadeau of Blainville, Que., is fourth in men’s competition and Véronik Mallet of Sept-Iles, Que., is seventh after the women’s short.

Full results Filandia Open: CS Finlandia Trophy Espoo 2018

Canada’s Conrad Orzel completes big comeback for bronze

GDANSK, Poland – Conrad Orzel of Woodbridge, Ont., won the bronze medal in comeback style on Saturday to conclude the sixth stop on the ISU Junior Grand Prix circuit.

Alexey Erokhov of Russia took gold with 221.89 points, Camden Pulkinen of the U.S. was second at 209.35 and Orzel followed for third at 196.05. His 134.98 for his long program was a personal best.

Orzel, 17, was ninth after the short program on Thursday. It was his second career medal on the circuit.

While his free skate wasn’t perfect he launched his performance by landing a triple Axel- double toe combination followed by a quad toe loop-triple toe combo. He fell on a second quad attempt but recovered to finish strong.

Russia was 1-2 in ice dancing with Anastasia Skoptcova and Kirill Aleshin first at 150.78 followed by Elizaveta Khudaiberdieva and Nikita Nazarov in second at 133.85. Caroline Green and Gordon Green of the U.S. were third at 131.23.

Olivia McIsaac of Burlington, Ont., and Elliott Graham of Angus, Ont., moved from fifth to fourth at 122.40 while Seungyun Han of Waterloo, Ont., and Grayson Lockhead of Sweaburg, Ont., were seventh.

Full results: ISU JGP Baltic Cup 2017

Canada’s Conrad Orzel seventh at ISU Junior Grand Prix circuit

SALZBURG, Austria – Conrad Orzel of Woodbridge, Ont., placed seventh in men’s competition on Saturday to conclude the second stop on the ISU Junior Grand Prix figure skating circuit.

Camden Pulkinen of the U.S. won the gold with 203.80 points, Luc Economides of France took silver at 190.59 and Egor Murashov of Russia was third at 186.76.

Orzel, sixth after the short program, dropped one spot totalling 172.74.

On Friday, Ashlynne Stairs of Calgary and Lee Royer of St. Albert, Alta., and Irina Galiyanova of Ajax, Ont., and Tommy Tang of Toronto were fifth and ninth in ice dancing.

The third stop on the circuit is this Friday and Saturday in Riga, Latvia.

Full results: ISU JGP Cup of Austria 2017

Stairs and Royer take fifth spot on ISU Junior Grand Prix circuit

SALZBURG, Austria – World junior team members Ashlynne Stairs of Calgary and Lee Royer of St. Albert, Alta., were fifth in ice dancing on Friday at the second stop on the ISU Junior Grand Prix figure skating circuit.

Christina Carreirra and Anthony Ponomarenko of the U.S. won the gold medal with 145.39 points, Ksenia Konkina and Grigory Yakushev of Russia were second at 139.80 and Nathacha Lagouge and Corentin Rahier of France third at 129.90.

Stairs and Royer, also fifth after the short program, scored 121.71 to equal their best ever showing on the circuit in four career appearances.

‘’We know we could have done better,’’ said Stairs. ‘’Our technical showing wasn’t what we wanted in the short dance and our footwork was below par in the free dance.’’

The couple know they need to eliminate mistakes at the international level.

‘’When we get back home we are going to make sure we work really hard on the key points,’’ said Royer. ‘’Making sure we are hitting every single one.’’

Irina Galiyanova of Ajax, Ont., and Tommy Tang of Toronto were ninth.

‘’We need to review all our elements in the free dance,’’ said Galiyanova. ‘’Look at all the levels, exits and entries and all the little features we have and see what we’ve missed.’’

In men’s competition, Conrad Orzel of Woodbridge, Ont., singled his triple Lutz at the end of an otherwise strong short program to stand sixth. The free skate is on Saturday.

Full results: ISU JGP Cup of Austria 2017

Canadian skaters sweep men’s medals at Bavarian Open

OBERTSDORF, Germany –Nicolas Nadeau of Boisbriand, Que., led a Canadian medal sweep in junior men’s competition Saturday at the Bavarian Open figure skating competition.

Nadeau was first in both the short and long programs for 213.58 points. Conrad Orzel of Woodbridge, Ont., was second at 197.45 and Joseph Phan of Laval, Que., third at 197.28.

Next month, Nadeau is hoping to climb a step at the world junior championships after earning silver last season. The Canadian world junior team is using this event as a tune-up.

‘’It was an OK performance, not my best,’’ said Nadeau. ‘’There were a bit too many errors overall. Still it’s a preparation for the world juniors so I accomplished my goals for this point. I’m working on improving my quad toe in the long and I’ll probably not make changes to my short program.’’

Orzel landed a quad and two triple Axels.

‘’I kept focused at the beginning of my program and did all the hard elements,’’ he said. ‘’It was great to accomplish the big jumps in an international setting. I’m really comfortable now with my programs and I just want to boost some elements for the world juniors and get more points.’’

The 15-year-old Phan is the first sub for the world junior squad. He is keeping sharp with third men’s member Roman Sadovsky of Vaughan, Ont., currently injured.

‘’I was really happy about landing my quad toe in the long,’’ said Phan. ‘’It hadn’t been going well at all in practice so I was pretty stressed about it. To get it in the competition was a big moment. Right now I’m on standby for the world juniors but I’m preparing like I would be going.’’

Canadian 12-year-old lands quad and two triple Axels
In novice competition, 12-year-old Stephen Gogolev of Toronto landed two triple Axels and a quad toe Salchow to win the gold in the men’s event with 140.52 points. Corey Circelli of Vaughan, Ont., missed the podium by just over five points for fourth.

‘’I just wanted to do well in the programs,’’ said Gogolev at his second career international event. ‘’The first half of the long stood out for me. Both triple Axels were really good and it was the second time I ever landed a quad Salchow. It had been pretty consistent all week in practice so it felt great when I landed it.’’

Catherine Carle of Georgetown, Ont., was fourth in the women’s event as were ice dancers Natalie d’Alessandro and Bruce Waddell of Toronto.

Competition ends Sunday.

Full results: Bavarian Open 2017

Conrad Orzel wins the silver medal at ISU Junior Grand Prix

DRESDEN, Germany – Conrad Orzel of Woodbridge, Ont., climbed from fifth spot after the short program to win the silver medal on Friday at the seventh and final stop on the ISU Junior Grand Prix figure skating circuit.

Jun Hwan Cha of South Korea took the gold with 220.54 points, Orzel followed with a personal best 196.30 and Mitsuki Sumoto of Japan was third at 195.74. It was only Orzel’s second career international assignment.

‘’This was a breakthrough for my long program,’’ said Orzel. ‘’I’ve never really put all my elements together as I did today and I think I finally learned how too compete with all these elements in competition.’’

The 16-year-old Orzel produced a clean free skate which included a quad jump and two triple Axels in combination.

‘’The big difference to today compared to my last competition is I didn’t stress so much about my placement,’’ he said. ‘’I don’t think anyone expected me to earn a medal here but it happened because I finally showed what I’m capable of.’’

Thirteen-year-old Iliya Kovler of Richmond Hill, Ont., gained seven placings after his short program for 19th overall.

‘’It’s quite exciting to come back strong after a disappointing short program,’’ said Kovler. ‘’I was able to shake off my nervousness for the free. I’m positive I’ll bring a lot more to the rink next time and be much better.’’


Lajoie / Lagha

Ice dancers Marjorie Lajoie of Boucherville, Que., and Zachary Lagha of Greenfield Park, Que., finished less than point from a medal position placing fourth.

Rachel Parsons and Michael Parsons of the U.S. won the gold medal with 157.63 points. Anastasia Shpilevaya and Grigory Smirnov of Russia were second at 148.02 and their compatriots Arina Ushakova and Maxim Nekrasov were third at 140.21.

Lajoie and Lagha were third after the Thursday’s short program but couldn’t hang on finishing with a personal best 139.67 for their second fourth this season on the circuit. Alicia Fabbri of Terrebonne, Que., and Claudio Pietrantonio of Laval, Que., were sixth.
‘’It went exceptionally well for us, it’s unfortunate we couldn’t have placed higher,’’ said Lajoie, 15. ‘’It’s been a good season for us so far but there’s still a lot of work to do in order to increase our scores even more.’’

In women’s competition, Sarah Tamura of Burnaby, B.C. is sixth after the short program.

In pairs after the short program, Evelyn Walsh of London, Ont., and Trennt Michaud of Strathroy, Ont., are eighth and Justine Brasseur of Brossard, Que., and Mathieu Ostiguy of Ste-Angèle-de-Monnoir, Que., are ninth.

Competition ends Saturday with the free skates for women’s and pairs.

Full results: ISU JGP Pokal der Blauen Schwerter 2016

Canadian juniors travel to Dresden for final event of ISU Junior Grand Prix

OTTAWA, ON: Skate Canada will send seven entries, for a total of eleven skaters to Dresden, Germany, for the final event of the 2016-2017 ISU Junior Grand Prix circuit. Canada will send two entries per discipline in men’s, pair and ice dance, and one entry in ladies to the competition taking place from October 5-9, 2016.

Conrad Orzel, 16, Woodbridge, Ont., finished fourth in St. Gervais, France at the first event of the 2016 season, which also marked his debut on the junior circuit. Orzel also placed fourth at the 2016 Canadian Tire National Skating Championships in the junior category, and third in the junior category of the 2016 Coupe de Printemps. He is coached by Eva Najarro and trains in Richmond Hill, Ont.

Iliya Kovler, 13, Richmond Hill, Ont., is the second Canadian entry in men’s. Kovler earned his first international medal, a bronze, at the 2016 Autumn Classic International. Last season, he placed fourth in the novice category at the 2016 Canadian Tire National Skating Championships. He is coached by Andrei Berezintsev in Richmond Hill, Ont.

Sarah Tamura, 15, Burnaby, B.C., will represent Canada as the lone female entry. Tamura will be competing in her second ISU Junior Grand Prix event of the season after finishing eighth in Slovenia. After capturing the 2016 Canadian junior title, Tamura earned a berth at the 2016 ISU World Junior Figure Skating Championships in Debrecen, Hungary, where she placed 13th. She is coached by Joanne McLeod in Burnaby, B.C.

Justine Brasseur, 15, Brossard, Que., and Mathieu Ostiguy, 19, Sainte-Angèle-de-Monnoir, Que, are one of two pairs representing Canada at the event. The pair finished eleventh at their first assignment of the season in Ostrava, Czech Republic. Last season on the ISU Junior Grand Prix circuit, Brasseur and Ostiguy finished sixth in Latvia and fourth in Austria. The duo from Quebec also finished fourth in junior at the 2016 Canadian Tire National Skating Championships and placed seventh at the 2016 ISU World Junior Figure Skating Championships. Brasseur and Ostiguy train in Saint-Leonard, Que., and are coached by Richard Gauthier and Bruno Marcotte.

Evelyn Walsh, 15, London, Ont., and Trennt Michaud, 20, Strathroy, Ont., are the second Canadian pair competing in Germany. Earlier this season, the pair competed in their first Junior Grand Prix event together in Estonia and placed 11th. Walsh and Michaud are coached by Alison Purkiss and Margaret Purdy, and train in London, Ont.

Marjorie Lajoie, 15, Boucherville, Que., and Zachary Lagha, 17, Greenfield Park, Que., are the first of two Canadian ice dance entries. They will be competing at their second ISU Junior Grand Prix event of the season, after finishing fourth at the event in Japan. Last season, Lajoie and Lagha claimed the silver medal in junior at the 2016 national championships and placed 13th at the 2016 ISU World Junior Figure Skating Championships. The ice dancers train in Montreal, Que., with coaches Marie-France Dubreuil, Patrice Lauzon, Romain Haguenauer and Pascal Denis.

Alicia Fabbri, 13, Terrebonne, Que., and Claudio Pietrantonio, 19, Laval, Que., are the second Canadian entry in ice dance. This will be their second ISU Junior Grand Prix assignment, having placed fourth in Russia earlier this season. Last season, they won silver in the novice category at the 2016 Canadian Tire National Skating Championships. Fabbri and Pietrantonio are coached by Julien Lalonde, Mylène Girard and Lynn McKay.

André Bourgeois, Skate Canada NextGen Director, and Nathalie Martin of Montreal, Que., will be the Canadian team leaders at the event. Dr. Erika Persson of Edmonton, Alta., and Karen Seymour of Toronto, Ont. will be the Canadian team medical staff on site. Susan Morriss of Victoria, B.C., and Sylvain Guibord of Brossard, Que., will be 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 Conrad Orzel 16 Woodbridge, Ont. York Region Skating Academy Eva Najarro
Mens Iliya Kovler 13 Richmond Hill, Ont. Richmond Hill FSC Andrei Berezintsev
Ladies Sarah Tamura 15 Burnaby, B.C. Champs International SC Joanne McLeod
Pairs Justine Brasseur / Mathieu Ostiguy 15/19 Brossard, Que. / Sainte-Angèle-de-Monnoir, Que. CPA Brossard / CPA Saint-Césaire Richard Gauthier / Bruno Marcotte
Paris Evelyn Walsh / Trennt Michaud 15/20 London, Ont. / Strathroy, Ont. London SC / Prince Edward SC Alison Purkiss / Margaret Purdy
Ice Dance Marjorie Lajoie / Zachary Lagha 15/17 Boucherville, Que. / Greenfield Park, Que. CPA De Boucherville / CPA St. Lambert Marie-France Dubreuil / Patrice Lauzon / Romain Haguenauer / Pascal Denis
Ice Dance Alicia Fabbri / Claudio Pietrantonio 13/19 Terrebonne, Que. / Laval, Que. CPA Terrebonne / CPA Laval Julien Lalonde / Mylène Girard / Lynn McKay

Canada’s Conrad Orzel in medal hunt at season opening ISU Junior Grand Prix

ST-GERVAIS, France – Conrad Orzel of Woodbridge, Ont., will go for a medal in men’s singles at his first career ISU Junior Grand Prix figure skating competition as he stands fourth after the short program in the season opening event.

Yaroslav Paniot of Ukraine leads at 68.58, Roman Savosin of Russia is second at 67.44 and Kevin Aymoz of France third at 64.74. Orzel, a 16-year-old who was fifth at the junior nationals last season, follows at 61.65.
Eric Liu of Edmonton is 17th.

There was one final on Friday as Alina Zagitova of Russia took the gold medal in women’s singles. Kaori Sakamoto and Rin Nitaya, both of Japan, were second and third.

Olivia Gran, a 13-year-old from Kelowna, B.C., made a strong climb in the standing jumping from 13th after the short program to ninth overall. She had the eighth best free skate.

In ice dancing after the short dance, Ashlynne Stairs of Calgary and Lee Royer of St. Albert, Alta., are in eighth place.

Competition ends Saturday with the men’s free skate and the free dance.

Complete results: ISU JGP St. Gervais 2016

Canadian ice dancers Stairs and Royer climb standings at ISU Junior Grand Prix

ST-GERVAIS, France – Ashlynne Stairs of Calgary and Lee Royer of St. Albert, Alta., produced the sixth best free skate to finish seventh overall in ice dancing Saturday to conclude the first stop on the ISU Junior Grand Prix figure skating circuit.

Angelique Abachkina and Louis Thauron of France won the gold medal with 152.17 points. Christina Carreira and Anthony Ponomarenko of the U.S. took the silver at 148.38 and Sofia Polischuk and Alexander Vakhnov of Russia were third at 137.77.

The Canadians produced a strong free skate to The Beatles hits Here Comes the Sun and Something and to finish with the best ISU Junior Grand Prix result of their career. They were eighth at their two Junior Grand Prix assignments last season.

“It felt a lot stronger than the short program,” said Stairs, 16. “We were more in tune together and skated really well. We kept our positive attitude after a rough short program and that really helped. We wanted to do our absolute best.”

It was a 1-2 Russian finish in men’s singles with Roman Savosin taking the gold and Ilia Skirda the silver. Koshiro Shamada of Japan was third.

Conrad Orzel of Woodbridge, Ont., was 11th and Eric Liu of Edmonton gained two spots for 15th. Liu landed his first career triple Axel in competition in Friday’s short program.

“It was a great experience,” said Liu about his international debut. “I got way more nervous than before and it was good to learn it now. I felt my jumping is where it should be at this point but I definitely messed up my spins.”

On Friday, 13-year-old Olivia Gran of Kelowna, B.C., made a strong climb in the standing jumping from 13th after the short program to ninth overall. She had the eighth best free skate.

“It didn’t go the way I plan but there is some learning experience taken out of it,” said Gran about her international debut. “The level of competition was really good and I was impressed by the high scores.”

The second stop on the circuit is this Thursday to Friday in Ostrava, Czech Republic.

Complete results: ISU JGP St. Gervais 2016

Conrad Orzel overcomes injury, ready to face a new season of challenges

Conrad Orzel, wrapped in a sheepskin vest, took his opening pose at the novice contest of the Canadian Tire National Skating Championships and quickly began to rumble.

The program? “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly,” a 1966 spaghetti western in which a trio of gunslingers go on the prowl to find buried gold.

Orzel didn’t find the gold that January day in Kingston, Ont., (he won the bronze medal), but his effort was a triumph nonetheless. It was a testament to his grit that he was there at all. For a skater so young, he learned a big life lesson last season.

Orzel, of Woodbridge, ON, was as ready as he could be heading to Challenge the previous month but just before the event, suffered a torn ligament in his left leg and also an avulsion fracture, in which a piece of bone chips away from the main part of the bone as a result of a fall, or a muscular contraction that is stronger than the forces holding the bone together.

The young skater had no idea just what was wrong at the time. He just knew it was very painful. Coach Eva Najarro found out about it the day before they were to leave for Challenge. Then during a morning practice, Orzel approached her, close to tears, and said he just could not spin on his left foot.

This was just not like Orzel. He wouldn’t jump at those practices, either. And he loves to jump, more than anything. “It was like he wasn’t there,” Najarro said. “I know that he loves practices, because he likes to show off. He wants to show what he can do. I knew there was really something wrong with him. He was just skating around.”  Massage didn’t help. She gave him the option of withdrawing.

Spins were not always Orzel’s forte, but they were improving. But he took on an extra challenge by having Najarro recreate all of his spins to take the pressure off the left leg. “He was not able to do the spiral on the left foot, so we had to change it totally to a backwards entry to the spin,” she said. “We revamped, basically on the practice at Challenge.”

In other words, Najarro had to change his spins from forward to backward entries.  Najarro’s skating daughter, Alexandra, who knows all about dealing with injury, had a chat with Orzel, and bucked him up psychologically.

When Orzel got off the ice, he had qualified for nationals. The tears came, Najarro, too. “It was just so emotional,” she said. “We were both pretty stressed about it, because it was really hard to watch him.’

“I just wanted to try my best,” he said. “That was my goal for nationals, nothing more.”

He took four weeks off after that event. Immediately upon returning home, a doctor told him that he didn’t know how he had skated at all. He was still not fully healed when he went to nationals in Kingston.

Another problem surfaced too. Orzel was sprouting like a weed, and he outgrew his boots. He had to also try to break in a new pair before Kingston. “I just wanted to try my best,” he said. “That was my goal for nationals, nothing more.”

His good, bad and ugly was all that and more. He landed seven triples. “I was very proud of what I did,” he said.

Currently, Orzel is fine. He has healed. There is no more pain. And now he’s trying to create the next chapter of his career. He did win a gold medal for novice men at the Canada Winter Games. But now he’s pushing on.

He knows what he wants. When he was three, he started in CanSkate at a local club and Najarro spotted him. What was most remarkable about the young boy in front of her was that he wanted to skate. “The thing that caught my attention was that here was a 5-year-old boy who already knows what he wants to do,” she said. “That’s rare.”

Conrad OrzelOrzel said he became interested in skating because that’s what Canadians do. “I think I was thinking of growing up to be a hockey player,” he said. “ But then once I saw the high-end skaters jumping and that really got me into it.”

His heroes are Elvis Stojko and Evgeny Plushenko.

“He always liked to turn,” Najarro said about Orzel. “He has very quick twitch. Rotation is easy for him.”

Because Orzel has always focused so much on jumps, Najarro has been trying to turn his attention to the other side of skating: edges, details, flexibility, that second mark. And he gets it. (After all, he trains every day alongside the exquisite Roman Sadovsky at the York Region Skating Academy.) Orzel has improved already and his goals for the coming season are getting level-four spins, and level three or four footwork. “When I started, I wasn’t really a big fan because my core wasn’t strong,” Orzel said. “But now I’m getting deep into the edges and I realize that it is fun.” He also wants to get a triple Axel into his programs.

For the past year, Orzel has been training the triple Axel – and both the quadruple toe loop and quadruple Salchow jumps. The triple Axel isn’t consistent yet. “I’ve landed a few but it’s not there yet,” he said. He says he tries the quads without harness.

“I’m not a fan of the harness,” he said. “I feel like it’s an artificial feeling and I don’t feel in control of my jumps.” Soon, he’s heading off to Vancouver to work with Joanne McLeod on his quads.

Another remarkable thing about Orzel. He’s only 14.

While Grzegorz Filipowski has designed many of Orzel’s programs – Najarro likes his work very much – she is taking her young charge to Allison Purkiss this year to give him the experience of working with another choreographer.

“I think he has potential,” Najarro said. “I think his jumping abilities are amazing. I think he has a bright future.”