Liam Firus, Julianne Séguin and Charlie Bilodeau withdraw from 2016 ISU World Figure Skating Championships

OTTAWA, ON: Canadian skaters Liam Firus, Julianne Séguin and Charlie Bilodeau have withdrawn from the 2016 ISU World Figure Skating Championships. The event is scheduled to take place form March 28 – April 3, 2016 in Boston, MA, USA.

In the men’s category Liam Firus, 23, North Vancouver, B.C., has withdrawn. “Making this decision was extremely difficult. However, I feel that withdrawing from the World Championships is vital for our team,” said Firus.

Nam Nguyen, 17, Toronto, Ont., will replace Firus on the Canadian Team. “My teammates Patrick Chan and Nam Nguyen are among the top men in the world. I have full faith in their abilities. This decision is about performance and giving our country the best opportunity to obtain three spots for the World Championships next year,” explained Firus. “I am extremely proud of the strides I’ve made this year; skating truly is a passion of mine. I look forward to coming back even stronger next season to help Canada obtain the three spots needed for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games.”

Skate Canada’s High Performance Director Mike Slipchuk added, “I have a lot of respect for Liam and his decision on Worlds.  We have confidence in Liam being a strong part of our team leading to 2018.”

In pairs Julianne Séguin, 19, Longueuil, Que., sustained a minor injury in training earlier this year causing the withdrawl of her and partner Charlie Bilodeau, 22, Trois-Pistoles, Que. “Due to injury last month, which is not fully healed, Charlie and I had to make a heartbreaking decision to not participate at Worlds. We missed a lot of practices and during competition we want to give our best for our satisfaction and for the people around us. We are unfortunately not ready for this event. We will take the time to heal and work to come back stronger for the future. We want to thank everyone for their support,” explained Séguin.

Séguin and Bilodeau will be replaced by Kirsten Moore-Towers, 23, St. Catharines, Ont., and Michael Marinaro, 24, Sarnia, Ont.

“Julianne and Charlie have had a great season this year and it is unfortunate they won’t be able to compete at Worlds. Full recovery for Julianne is the priority and they will return stronger for next season,” said Slipchuk.

Meet the Senior Men


Long before stealing the show at the 2011 Canadian junior championships in Victoria, B.C. – where a podium shot gained international attention–

Nam Nguyen

2011 Canadian junior championships

Nam Nguyen was on a fast-track to stardom. During the figure skating gala at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, men’s gold medallist Evan Lysacek introduced the then-11-year-old, who went on to dazzle the capacity crowd at Pacific Coliseum.

Nam Nguyen

2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver

Nam stormed on to the international stage in 2014, winning the world junior crown in Sofia, Bulgaria, before claiming his first senior national title at the Canadian Tire National Skating Championships in Kingston, Ont. last January.

In Japan, Nam and reigning Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu – who both train under Brian Orser at Toronto’s Cricket Club – are known as the “Cricket Brothers.”

FUN FACT: Nam claims to be able to put 21 marshmallows in his mouth at once.


Guess who’s back? The three-time world champion (2011, 2012, 2013) returned to the competitive scene after a one year hiatus, winning gold at Skate Canada Challenge in October. In the summer of 2015, Patrick launched his own ice wine named, not surprisingly, “On Ice.” Looking to the future, the seven-time Canadian champion – who is fluent in English, French and Cantonese – plans to pursue a B.A. in Economics, Business and International Language.

FUN FACT: Chan is a car aficionado, and can often be found under the hood during the off-season.


Liam, an exquisite skater with powerful, fluid strides, represented Canada at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games. Always a crowd favourite, Liam transitioned to figure skating after playing competitive hockey at a young age. Liam says he subscribes to GQ Magazine, and the dapper two-time Canadian senior men’s bronze medallist is always keeping up with fashion trends. Skating is in his family – Liam’s brother, Shane, is a national-level ice dancer.

FUN FACT: Liam says he is “obsessed with the stock market”, and looks forward to working in the investment world once his skating career is over.


Widely regarded as one of Canada’s brightest young skating prospects, Roman originally took up skating in the hopes of playing hockey, before coaches suggested he give figure skating a go. Not a bad decision. Sadovsky, who trains under two-time Canadian women’s champion Tracey Wainman, captured his second ISU Junior Grand Prix gold medal earlier this year in Bratislava, Slovakia. The youngster also earned his way on to the national team this season, thanks to a fourth-place showing at the 2015 Canadian Tire National Skating Championships and looks poised to make his mark when he makes the jump to the senior level.

FUN FACT: Roman is terrified of bugs.


A first-year member of the national team, Keegan, who holds dual U.S and Canadian citizenship, competed for the U.S. previously. An energetic, crowd-pleasing showman and avid outdoorsman, Keegan can usually be found sporting his trademark boonie hat when away from the rink.

FUN FACT: Among his many talents, Keegan walks on stilts in local carnivals during the off-season.

Canada’s Top Figure Skaters Descend on Halifax for the 2016 Canadian Tire National Skating Championships

HALIFAX, NS – From January 18 to 24, the 2016 Canadian Tire National Skating Championships will bring together Canada’s top 250 figure skaters for a week of on-ice competition in Halifax. The all-Canadian championships take place at the Scotiabank Centre and will feature competition in the men’s, women’s, pair and ice dance disciplines at the senior, junior and novice levels.

“From our reigning champions to the novice skaters attending the event for the first time, the Canadian Tire National Skating Championship is the pinnacle of Canadian skating season,” explains Dan Thompson, Skate Canada CEO. “Skate Canada, together with our title partner, Canadian Tire are thrilled to be in Halifax to celebrate the 102nd instalment of this historic event.”

“At Canadian Tire, we believe in the power of sport to change lives, bring communities together and inspire greatness,” says Allan MacDonald, Chief Operating Officer, Canadian Tire. “Nova Scotia is my home province and I’m so proud to welcome and cheer on Canada’s top skaters, as well as their coaches, families and friends as they advance the sport of figure skating in Canada.”

The week long competition will begin with the novice ice dance on Monday, January 18 and the senior events will begin on Friday, January 22. Athletes will vie for spots on the Skate Canada National Team and the Canadian teams that will compete at the 2016 ISU World Figure Skating Championships, 2016 ISU Four Continents Figure Skating Championships, and 2016 ISU World Junior Figure Skating Championships.

Leading the senior events are 2015 World Pair Champions Meagan Duhamel, 30, from Lively, ON, and Eric Radford, 30, from Balmertown, ON. The four-time Canadian champions will look to win their fifth consecutive title, taking on Canada’s best.

In ice dance, two-time world medallists Kaitlyn Weaver, 26, from Waterloo, ON, and Andrew Poje, 28, from Waterloo, ON, plan to capture their second Canadian title. They will be challenged by a rising field of ice dance talent.

Current Canadian champion Nam Nguyen, 17, from Toronto, ON, will go head-to-head with three-time world champion Patrick Chan, 25, from Toronto, ON, as he returns to the Canadian Tire National Skating Championships after a year off.

In women’s Gabrielle Daleman, 17, from Newmarket, ON, will defend her 2015 Canadian title against two-time Canadian champion Kaetlyn Osmond, 20, from Marystown, NL, and Sherwood Park, AB, who will return to competition after missing last season due to injury.

For full entries and the event start orders please click here.

Skate Canada is adding some extra sheen to the event with the addition of three-time World Champion, Elvis Stojko. He will be returning to the competitive sphere, but this time as the 2016 Canadian Tire National Skating Championships Athlete Ambassador. Representing his fellow athletes, Stojko will lend his engaging personality and time to public appearances, media interviews and in-venue fan activities.

Kids will add to the glow of the week through the Skate Canada School Program. As part of Skate Canada’s vision to help youth develop a love for skating, over 1,000 kids from grades three to five will have the opportunity to participate in a free session to watch and learn about the sport during the senior practices on Thursday, January 21.

The spotlight will also shine on 2008 world champion Jeffrey Buttle who will be officially inducted into the Skate Canada Hall of Fame on Sunday, January 24. There will be a special ceremony to honour his tremendous career in skating during the Gala. In addition, Buttle will skate a solo in the Gala and choreograph the closing group number.


Tickets can be purchased online at, by phone at 902-451-1221 or toll free 1-877-451-1221 or in person at the Ticket Atlantic box office located on the Scotiabank Centre Promenade.

Senior competition prices range from $30-$55 per session, plus surcharges. Promotional four-packs are available for $100-$175, for senior events only.

Tickets for the junior and novice competition are $15-$20 per day. Seating for the junior and novice competition days is general admission. Children 12 and under are free for the junior and novice events only.

In addition, all-event ticket packages are still available for purchase. All-event ticket packages range from $125-$175, plus applicable surcharges.


Skate Canada is the nation’s governing body for skating and dedicated to creating a nation of skaters both recreationally and competitively. At over 125 years old, it is the world’s oldest skating organization and Canada’s preeminent leader in skate training and education, providing high performance coaching and skating development education. Over 130,000 Canadians participate in Skate Canada educational programs each year.

Canada’s most successful governing sport body, Skate Canada athletes have won 25 Olympic medals and 32 world championships. Today’s Canadian world and Olympic medalists all began at one of our 1,200 local Skate Canada clubs or skating schools. Through our programs, more than 5,200 certified professional coaches encourage Canadians of all ages to skate together as a family, pursue competitive ice sports and enjoy an active lifestyle.

Skate Canada has a National Service Centre in Ottawa, marketing headquarters in Toronto and High Performance facilities in Toronto and Calgary.


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Canada’s Nam Nguyen roars to top-five finish at worlds

SHANGHAI – Nam Nguyen of Toronto surged to a fifth place finish in men’s competition on Saturday at the ISU World Figure Skating Championships.

Javier Fernandez of Spain earned the gold, Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan was second and Denis Ten of Kazakhstan third.

Nguyen, 16, was ninth after the short program.

“In the long program I needed to be more aggressive,” said Nguyen.  “I achieved that today and I’m really happy with myself.”

Jeremy Ten of Vancouver was 22nd.

In women’s competition, Elizaveta Tuktamysheva of Russia won the gold medal, Satoko Miyahara of Japan was second and Elena Radionova of Russia third.

Alaine  Chartrand of Prescott, Ont., was 11th and Gabrielle Daleman of Newmarket, Ont., 21st.

“Pretty much every performance I do I feel I could do better,” said Chartrand, who turned 19 this week.  “But today was not the performance I wanted.  It didn’t flow as well as in the short and that caused some mistakes.”

Canada ends the competition with two medals.  Meagan Duhamel of Lively, Ont., and Eric Radford of Balmertown, Ont., took gold in pairs while Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje of Waterloo, Ont., won bronze in ice dancing.

Full results:

Teenagers Daleman and Nguyen leads in women’s and men’s after the short programs

KINGSTON, ONTARIO – Nam Nguyen began to felt the pressure this year, the chatter that he could win this national title.

Last week, while training, he had a bit of a meltdown. Coach Brian Orser took him aside, and told him he he’d been there in 1981, when Brian Pockar had been three-time Canadian champion and Orser was a young upstart who had such a good year, people were talking about him, too.

Both Orser (back then) and Nguyen (now) swept the pressure aside. On Friday, Nguyen won the short program with a nice little cushion with a lofty score of 81.78, his best score in a short.

Jeremy Ten, who said earlier that this is his final year – a farewell and a challenge to himself, is in second place with 77.80 points. “It’s pretty cool,” Ten said. “I just left my heart out on the ice.” Roman Sadovsky, only 15 and in his second year of senior, is third with 73.46, a personal best by about three points. Sadovsky had hoped to finish in the top five, to make the national team. “What’s not to be happy about?” he grinned.  He didn’t do a triple Axel: it’s still an inconsistent element for him.

The story of the short program was as much about rough goes as triumphs.

Kevin Reynolds, hobbled by boot problems for the past couple of seasons, got a new pair that enabled him to train for the past four or five weeks. But it wasn’t enough. He fell on all of his jumps elements – both quads and a triple Axel – and dropped to 12th place.

“I gave it everything I had,” Reynolds said sadly. “It was too much for me to handle today…I just wasn’t underneath my feet.”

Elladj Baldé fell on a quad and popped the first jump of his combo, but he sprained a knee a few weeks ago and then caught a virus that swept the Detroit Skating Club last week. Baldé felt horrible for three days, and slowly worked his way back to doing his program only last Saturday. He got 64.79 points.

In the women’s event, Gabby Daleman had one big aim, coming to these Canadian Tire National Skating Championships: to win her first title.

For a moment, Daleman suffered a hiccup on that path, when she fell on a triple Lutz in the women’s short program on Friday, but she steamed ahead to win it with 62.91 points, narrowly ahead of Veronik Mallet, 20, of Sept-Iles, Que., who skated cleanly, putting an exclamation point on her season.

Alaine Chartrand, 18, of nearby Prescott, Ont., and one of the favourites to take the title, stumbled out of a triple loop. Chartrand had the most difficult combination of all, a triple Lutz – triple toe loop, but it appeared under-rotated. She is third with 60.25 points, her highest score in Canada. She got a 61 when she won the short program at Cup of Russia earlier this season, an effort that put her on the international map.

Daleman has had a season of setbacks but decided to follow the advice of choreographer Lori Nichol who told her: “the power of the will is more important than the skill.”

The 16-year-old skater from Newmarket, Ont., came down with her sixth episode of strep throat of the season last week and immediately found a way to frame it in a positive way.

“Skating without breathing is like extra cardio,” she said. “If I can do my program when I can’t breathe, imagine what I can do when I can.”

Daleman also hasn’t recovered from a stress reaction in her right foot that she suffered in Sochi. It’s better, but still hasn’t healed, and on top of that, she has developed plantar fasciitis in that right foot. And the ailment is also affecting her left foot somewhat.

“My right foot feels like a frozen water bottle,” she said.

The senior women and men conclude on Saturday at the Rogers K-Rock Centre in Kingston.

Nam Nguyen edged out of medals at Grand Prix

SHANGHAI – Toronto’s Nam Nguyen took fourth spot in men’s competition on Saturday in a memorable night at the Cup of China, the third stop on the ISU Grand Prix circuit in figure skating.

Maxim Kovtun of Russia won the gold medal with 243.34 points, Olympic and world champion Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan, who fell five times in his free skate, took the silver at 237.55 and Richard Dornbush of the U.S., was third at 226.73.

Nguyen totalled 221.85 to climb from sixth after Friday’s short program to fourth. Nguyen opened with a brilliant quad Salchow followed by a perfect triple Axel.  He singled his follow up triple Axel in combination but came back to land it perfectly a few seconds later. He completed his skate to a series of clean triple jumps including two in combination.

‘’I was happy I was able to come back and pull it off,’’ said the 16-year-old Nam about his triple Axel combo.  ‘’For me there was no question about whether I would attempt it again in the program. It’s a jump I have a lot of confidence with.’’

The men’s competition was marred by a nasty collision between Hanyu and China’s Han Yan  in the warm-up just prior to the last flight of skaters.  Hanyu suffered scrapes to his head and face and still competed with a bandage around his head.   Han also performed his free skate and finished sixth.

For Nguyen it was another impressive performance in his first season at the senior level.  Last winter’s world junior champion already has two medal performances including a bronze at Skate America last month.

In women’s competition, Russia was 1-2 with Elizaveta Tuktamysheva winning gold and Julia Lipnitskaia the silver. Gabrielle Daleman of Newmarket, Ont., was fifth in her senior Grand Prix debut.

‘’I wasn’t nervous, I felt confident,’’ said Daleman, 16, a 2014 Olympic team member.  ‘’I knew going in it was going to be a tough competition but I felt ready.  The big thing I learned this weekend is not to second guess myself and trust even more in my training.’’

In ice dancing Alexandra Paul of Midhurst, Ont., and Mitchell Islam of Barrie, Ont., were fifth and in pairs Natasha Purich of Sherwood Park, Alta., and Andrew Wolfe of Calgary were sixth.

‘’It’s pretty amazing for us just be here,’’ said Purich who joined forces with Wolfe only six months ago.  ‘’We’re just happy to see our career together starting to take off.  Today we made some little mistakes and left some points on the table but we are confident we will continue to improve.’’

The next stop in the circuit is next weekend in Moscow.

Full results:

Canada’s Nam Nguyen wins bronze medal at Skate America

Nam-Bronze-ChicagoCHICAGO – World junior champion Nam Nguyen of Toronto landed a quadruple Salchow and two triple Axels to post a personal best score and win the bronze medal in men’s competition on Saturday night at Skate America.

The competition is the opening stop on the ISU Grand Prix figure skating circuit.

Tatsuki Machida of Japan took the gold medal with 269.09 points, Jason Brown of the U.S. was second at 234.17 and Nguyen followed at 232.24 in his senior Grand Prix debut.

Nguyen, 16, roared into his program to music from La Strada packing in the quad and two triple Axels –including one in combination, in the first minute. He added five more triples including a beautiful Lutz to cap the program.

The medal was a bit of a surprise for Nguyen who was seventh after the short program on Friday.

‘’I didn’t have a great week of training so it’s nice to finish like this with a satisfying performance,’’ said Nguyen who is coached by Brian Orser. ‘’The start of my program is important but I know I still have the rest of the program to focus on.’’

Nguyen landed the quad Salchow for the first time last week in a silver medal performance at Skate Canada’s Autumn International in Barrie, Ont.

‘’I felt today’s jump had a lot more power in it and I’m looking forward to doing it again at my next competition.’’

The Americans were 1-2 in ice dancing. Madison Chock and Evan Bates won the gold medal with 171.03 points and Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani were second at 160.33. Russians Alexandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin were third at 143.87.

Élisabeth Paradis of Loretteville, Que., and François-Xavier Ouellette of Laval, Que., climbed from eighth after the short dance to fourth at 137.30 in their senior Grand Prix debut. Nicole Orford of Burnaby, B.C., and Thomas Williams of Okotoks, Alta., were eighth.

In pairs after the short program, Vanessa Grenier of Sherbrooke, Que., and Maxime Deschamps of Vaudreuil-Dorion, Que., are sixth.

Canada has no entries in women’s competition.

The pairs and women’s free skates are on Sunday.

Full results:

Nam Nguyen takes on the ISU Senior Grand Prix circuit for the first time

Not only has Nguyen benefited from training alongside an Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu and a European champion Javier Fernandez, with high style and quad jumps peppering the practice sessions in Toronto, but the 16-year-old found himself invited to a skating show in Japan in early summer with some of the best skaters in the world.

There was Nguyen, 2014 world junior champion, world championship competitor, on the same ice with Stephane Lambiel, Daisuke Takahashi, Nobunari Oda and his training mate Yuzuru Hanyu, the reigning Olympic champion. “It’s humbling, but it’s good for him,” said coach Brian Orser.

“It was amazing,” Nguyen said. “The rink was really small and that didn’t really stop any of them doing quad toes. It was crazy. And Yuzu was just on fire. ” With Nguyen watching, Hanyu did a quad Salchow, a quad toe loop, a quad loop. And he landed a quad Lutz right in front of Nguyen. “It was pretty cool,” Nguyen said.

It was the perfect launch to Nguyen’s first season on the senior Grand Prix circuit. He’ll be competing at Skate America and Cup of China, although not Skate Canada in Kelowna, B.C. Wherever he skates, he’ll be stepping up what he did last year.

Although Nguyen got off to a slow and frustrating start last season, no doubt because of his incredible growth spurt, he ended the season increasing his technical content with each competition: triple Axel, triple Axel-double toe loop, triple Axel-triple toe loop. This year, he’s not slowing down, and has been tackling a quad Salchow. He fell at his first attempt at the Thornhill Summer Skate.

The good news? Coach Brian Orser has told Nguyen that he’s getting this quad more quickly than the triple Axel, which took him two years to master. “This one is less than a year,” Nguyen said. The quad is his third jump, and it will be an interesting mental exercise to do it. It’s preceded by two triple Axels. The trick, Orser said, is to keep Nguyen calm during the two Axels – when he knows that quad is coming.

“He’s been training it well,” Orser said. “It’s a little under-rotated, but it looks like one, and you can see that it’s going to be one.”

Nguyen is also wrestling with two new programs and he’s breaking loose with a new musical concept for skating with his short program to “The Sinnerman.” At first, choreographer Jeff Buttle wanted him to skate to classical music, but Nguyen didn’t like the idea that it was music from the same choreographer as last year’s long program (Bach). “I asked him for something a little more upbeat and more fun that I can skate to,” Nguyen said.

Buttle emerged with “The Sinnerman” and for the first few days, Nguyen was against this one, too, thinking he couldn’t skate to it. His parents told him to have faith in Buttle. But when Nguyen heard the first music cut, he fell in love with it. “I was wrong,” Nguyen said. “It was amazing when I heard it. It’s pretty cool and I have had a great time skating to it.”

The Sinnerman is an African American traditional spiritual song, and Buttle used the soundtrack from the 1999 movie “The Thomas Crown Affair” (starring Pierce Brosnan) about the theft of a valuable piece of art from the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The routine is different for Nguyen because he’s never skated to vocals before. “Jeff took full advantage of that,” Nguyen said. “It was kind of weird doing it the first time, especially going into my first triple Axel. I’m not used to that, but it’s pretty cool and I’m sure I can quickly adjust to it.”

Choreographer David Wilson picked out “La Strada” for Nguyen’s long program. “I liked it because Daisuke Takahashi skated to it at the 2010 Olympics and also Jeff Buttle during the 2002 season,” Nguyen said. “I’ve watched their programs a lot and I wanted to not copy them, but get an idea of how they performed to the music so I can apply my own version to it. I like it a lot.”

What is his own version? Wilson and music maestro Hugo Chouinard were clever enough to pick some music cuts from the popular “La Strada” that other skaters haven’t used. To Nguyen, it’s like a new discovery. “So we have the more main stream music pieces, and we also have the more unknown pieces,” Nguyen said. “I think that will make my program interesting and very special.”

“La Strada is a nice segway into big boy skating,” Orser said. “We can’t do the cute. It doesn’t fly in senior. You need to have speed and power.” Nguyen has been working on increasing his speed going into his jumps, too.

When he performed the free at Thornhill, his score of 146.46 almost matched his personal best score set at the world championships last March. He’s off to a good start. “Usually my first competitions of the season are terrible,” Nguyen admitted. “And this year is the first time I’ve competed pretty late, and I think I did an excellent job, putting out my two new programs. They are not perfect yet, and I need to work much harder and improve every little detail in my program.”

He’s already had a taste of senior international championships last year, having finished 10th at the Four Continents and a very respectable 12th at the world championships in Japan, despite having grown at least a foot.

And he’s still growing – in every way. Since the world championships, he’s grown another two inches and now stands five feet, 8 ½ inches tall. “This time, I already know what it feels like and I wanted to face it head on and just continue my practice sessions normal, everyday,” Nguyen said. “And that worked. There are some days I have a lot of struggles, but I’m okay right now.”

At Thornhill Summer Skate, he sported a pair of size eight shoes. At home he has a pair that are size nine. Nguyen is prepared to grow into himself.

Sky is the limit for newly-crowned world junior champion Nam Nguyen

As far as fleeting moments go, Nam Nguyen’s first – and to date, only – encounter with three-time world champion Patrick Chan was about as brief as they come.

Two years have passed since Nguyen, then a pint-sized 13-year-old competing as a senior for the first time at the national championships in Moncton, N.B., had a chance encounter with Chan in a hallway following practice.

“He asked me where the clock was,” the newly-crowned world junior men’s champion told reporters this week.

Cue the laughter.

“It was around the corner.”

With a world junior title now in his back pocket, thanks to a pair of dazzling programs in Sofia, Bulgaria, the skating prodigy – also the youngest Canadian to win national titles at the juvenile, pre-novice, novice and junior levels – is creating headlines of his own these days. There are even some inevitable whispers, as premature as they may be, that Nguyen could one day be Chan’s heir apparent.

“Some people say I might be the next Patrick Chan, and I think that’s a huge honour,” he adds with a wide smile.

“He’s the three-time world champion and Olympic silver medallist. That’s amazing.”

“When I saw the score, it was unbelievable, that’s the highest score I’ve ever (had) internationally,” said Nam, referring to the 217.06 total score he posted last weekend.

“When I sat down, there were so many things going on in my head. I saw the score and thought, ‘Oh my god, I can’t believe it.’”

Less than a week after claiming the world junior title in Bulgaria, Nguyen will be back on a plane Saturday when he makes the trek across the Pacific for next week’s ISU World Figure Skating Championships in Tokyo. Making the trip with him will be Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu, the gold medallist from the Sochi Winter Olympics, and world bronze medallist Javier Fernandez of Spain. Nguyen trains with Hanyu and Fernandez at the Toronto Cricket Club under two-time Olympic silver medallist and 1987 world champion Brian Orser.

If recent history is any indication, Orser is becoming the coach with the Midas touch. Not only does he have Hanyu, Fernandez and Nam in his stable, but Orser also coached Yuna Kim to women’s gold at the Vancouver Winter Olympics in 2010.

Orser’s been around long enough to know with the Sochi Games now in the rear-view mirror, it will likely signal a changing of the guard in men’s skating.

“This is going to be the new guard,” said Orser, referring to the top finishers last weekend in Bulgaria. “The top four or five – these are the guys we’re going to see down the road.

“There is a change now happening and it’s happening sooner than anybody thought.”

In Sofia, Nguyen skated a near-flawless free program punctuated with a pair of double Axels, but when he makes the jump to seniors –whenever that may be – Orser and Nguyen know they will have to up the ante. In the coming months, they plan on working on the quad before rolling it out next season.

But Nguyen’s handlers insist he isn’t on any sort of fast track.

“Winning a junior world title is not the end – it’s the start,” reasons Skate Canada High Performance Director Mike Slipchuk.

“I think this is a big building block for Nam.”

Stealing the show seems to be in the kid’s DNA. Four years later, and people are still talking about Nguyen’s memorable cameo in the gala at the Vancouver Olympics. At recent national championships, Nguyen has won over the crowd with his ear-to-ear grin and infectious enthusiasm.

But Orser says that persona needed a makeover to introduce a big-boy image, and not only because Nguyen has grown almost a foot, give or take, in the past year and a half.

“I told him ‘OK, enough of the cute factor’,” reasons Orser.

“It was fun and it was cute, and everybody was like, ‘Oh my god, he’s so cute.’ But now you’ve got to be a big boy and you’ve got to skate like that. There has to be maturity.’”

Nguyen says Orser helps keep his feet planted firmly on the ground, and that isn’t going to change with the world junior title.

But 15-year-olds are allowed to dream, and this kid isn’t any different.

“I want to be the Olympic champion, 2018,” he says, eyes lighting up. “I want to be the first Canadian men’s champion for the Olympics.

“That would be cool.”
Marty Henwood

Canada’s Nam Nguyen wins world junior figure skating title

SOFIA, Bulgaria -Nam Nguyen of Toronto landed two triple Axels and won the gold medal Saturday in men’s competition at the ISU World Junior Figure Skating Championships.

Nguyen posted the top score in both the short and free programs to finish with 217.06 points.

“That was the best free skate I have ever had,” said Nguyen. “It was the first time I’ve ever done two triple axels in one program and I hope to continue to do that.”

Adian Pitkeev of Russia was second at 212.51 and Nathan Chen of the U.S., third at 212.03.

Performing to music by Bach, Nguyen produced a triple Axel-double toe, another triple Axel as well as six more triples including a triple Lutz-triple toeloop combination. The 15-year-old collected a level four for the footwork and the three spins and with 144.19 points improved his seasons best by almost eight points.

“I just told myself to take one element at a time,” said Nguyen about his approach to Saturday’s free skate. “Just before I went into my starting position I told myself just to have fun. This was my third junior worlds so I really didn’t have anything to lose. I enjoyed it very much.”

Nguyen is coached by two-time Canadian Olympic silver medallist Brian Orser.

“Nam really skated for it,” said Orser.  “Doing Four Continents (in January) was one of the best things for him. That was his first senior international competition and first time competing against the senior men. He stepped it up getting ready for that event. ”

Nguyen, 12th at last year’s world juniors, now heads to Japan for the senior worlds later this month.

Roman Sadovsky of Vaughan, Ont., was 13th.

Nguyen’s win was Canada’s second medal of the competition. On Friday Madeline Edwards of Port Moody, B.C., and ZhaoKai Pang of Burnaby, B.C., won the bronze in ice dancing.

Competition ends Sunday with the women’s free skate.

Full results at:

Canada’s Nam Nguyen first after short program at world juniors

SOFIA, Bulgaria – Nam Nguyen of Toronto is in first place in men’s competition after Thursday’s short program at the ISU World Junior Figure Skating Championships.

Nguyen, 15, earned 72.87 points with Jin Boyang of China second at 71.51 and Uno Shoma of Japan third at 70.67.

“The short program felt awesome,” said Nguyen, who is coached by Brian Orser.  “I was feeling very relaxed throughout the whole program. I took one element at a time and that really paid off.”

The highlight was landing the triple Axel.

“The triple Axel felt really big,” he said. “I think it was one of the best ones I’ve ever done, especially in competition. So it was really good that I was able to deliver it out here.”

Nguyen won’t change a thing for the free skate.

“I’m looking forward to delivering the same performance and to just keep doing what I do in practice,” he said.

Roman Sadovsky of Vaughan, Ont., had a personal best short program and sits 14th.

In pairs, Xiaoyu Yu and Yang Jin of China won the gold medal.

Mary Orr of Brantford, Ont., and Phelan Simpson of Lunenburg, Sask., were sixth and Tara Hancherow Tisdale, Sask., and Wesley Killing of Woodstock, Ont., seventh.

In Wednesday’s short dance, Madeline Edwards of Port Moody, B.C., and ZhaoKai Pang of Burnaby, B.C., are fifth less than a point from third.

Mackenzie Bent of Uxbridge, Ont., and Garrett MacKeen of Oshawa, Ont., are ninth.

Competition continues Friday with the free dance and the women’s short program.

Full results:


Impressive performance in Ottawa earns Nam Nguyen a ticket to Taipei City

This week, many of the top Olympic contenders are giving the Four Continents Figure Skating Championships a miss, coming so close to the Sochi Games. But for rising Canadian star, Nam Nguyen, the event in Taipei City is his Olympic Games.

Nguyen is only 15 years old, and the Four Continents event represents his first major senior international competition. It’s a heady beginning to a career full of promise.

Nguyen found his way to Taipei by virtue of his fifth-place finish at the Canadian Tire National Skating Championships (which puts him on the senior national team). He climbed to fifth by virtue of a fourth-place finish in the long program, ahead of such veterans as Elladj Balde, Jeremy Ten and Andrei Rogozine. When he finished, he exuded joy – and he got a standing ovation.

“I’ve had standing ovations before, but that was nothing compared to this, because I did a clean program,” he said. “The audience understood it and I was able to show it to them.”

Nguyen very quietly slipped into fourth place. Under the format used at this event, the final groups of skaters in each discipline skated late in the day at a “superfinal”-like setup, made for television. Nguyen, who skated in the next-to-last group, competed earlier in the day, quite under the radar. Incredibly, as his older peers skated after him, Nguyen’s score held up.

His big accomplishment was to land a triple Axel at the beginning of his program. He felt relief, he said. “Then I had to remember that I had seven more jumps and three spins.” Near the end of his routine, as he rocketed past the end boards, he could hear his coach, Brian Orser, telling him to keep pushing.

His previous best (international) free skate score had been 119.15, set at the 2013 ISU World Junior Figure Skating Championships, when he was 12th. At the national championship, he blasted it, finishing with 147.46 points, for a final score of 218.43. (His personal best total, set in Mexico, is 181.04). It made his trials of the early season all worth it.

His triple Axel hasn’t been consistent all season. He started landing them right from his first competition in Thornhill in August. But during his Junior Grand Prix events, the jump seemed to evaporate.

Earlier in the season at a Junior Grand Prix in Gdansk, Poland, he had finished only 16th. Ask him about it and his voice catches in his throat, still hurting from the memory. “I didn’t know what was happening,” he said. “The practices were all right, but practices don’t count. It’s what you do in the actual part of it. I was not able to show the judges what I was capable of doing. I learned a lot from Poland.”

His other Junior Grand Prix event in Mexico City resulted in a fourth-place finish, but he admitted he wasn’t fully prepared for that event. “People around me were saying that the altitude was bad, but I didn’t really listen to them,” he said. “So I didn’t train as hard as I needed to. I learned the hard way. My legs were dead.”

Afterward, he competed at Oktoberfest in Barrie and the triple Axel came back strong and became more consistent afterwards. And with it, his confidence grew too. At Skate Canada Challenge, his nerves got the better of him, so with a month to go before Canadians, he ramped up his training. He’s increasing his repetitions.

Last season, Orser said that Nguyen took himself a little too seriously and needed to dial things back somewhat. “He’s a really intense little character,” Orser said. “He skates well and he’s happy and he’s funny and he’s silly and all those things, but he’s extremely intense, almost to a fault. So needs to lighten up a little bit, I think.”

He needed to do what his training mates – two-time European champion Javier Fernandez and Grand Prix Final champ Yuzuru Hanyu – do. They step onto the ice, and get the job done in a relaxed way, Orser said. “We’re kind of working through that,” he said. “He actually over trains, so I need to scale that back a little bit and just work out how much he’s on the ice. He actually needs to do more off ice than on ice, just to get that balance.”

Nguyen said it himself last year at the national championships: “The criteria for myself this year is to have fun,” he said. “And most importantly, I need to bring the audience in with me. It would be really boring to skate by yourself. It’s much more fun to have them skate with you.”

Skating with the likes of Fernandez and Hanyu has pushed Nguyen into wanting to land quads, too. So a couple of weeks before Canadians, he started trying quad Salchow, because his Salchow jump is so strong. Next year, he may try a quad Salchow in a competition.

And he’s grown too. He doesn’t know by how much, but it’s visible. “I kind of feel it,” he said. “I’m fighting against it.” Obviously, he’s not losing his jumps. In Ottawa, Nguyen landed a triple Axel, triple Lutz – triple toe loop, triple flip, a triple loop, a triple Lutz with an edge call, a triple Salchow – double toe loop, a triple flip – double toe loop – double loop combo, and a double Axel. He also showed off one level four and two level three spins.

The competition at Four Continents will be stiffer than anything Nguyen has ever seen: He’ll be in against world silver medalist Denis Ten of Kazakhstan (season’s best of 224.80); Takahiko Kozuka of Japan (230.95), 2010 Four Continents Champion Adam Rippon (241.24), Richard Dornbush (218.57) and junior world champion Joshua Farris of the United States. It’s a big step. Against this crew, he finished 10th in the short program with a good skate. It’s the first step.

Beverley Smith