Osmond wins bronze in PyeongChang as Canada breaks Olympic medal record

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea – Kaetlyn Osmond put an exclamation point on a memorable run for Canadian figure skaters with a stunning bronze medal performance Friday at the Olympic Winter Games.

She also helped make a little history at the same time.

The three-time Canadian champion and reigning world silver medallist claimed her first individual Olympic medal, scoring 152.15   in an exquisite free skate for a 231.02 combined total. Alina Zagitova, representing the Olympic Athlete from Russia team, took gold with 239.57 points, while teammate Evgenia Medvedeva claimed silver.

It was Osmond’s second medal of these Games after helping Canada to gold in the team event.  The medal was also Canada’s 27th at these Winter Olympics to set a new Canadian record, eclipsing the 26 won in Vancouver eight years ago.

“These Olympics have been incredible, starting with the team event,” said Osmond. “When I hit my ending position, I didn’t want it to end. I wanted to enjoy every minute of it.

Osmond now has three medals – one of each colour – in two Olympic Winter Games (2014, 2018).  She is the sixth Canadian women’s skater to win an individual medal in figure skating, and the first since Joannie Rochette’s memorable bronze in Vancouver in 2010.

“To make it to the podium is something I never thought I would do,” said Osmond. “I remember watching Joannie Rochette back in 2010 when she made the podium, and I said that was incredible, that’s something I am never going to be able to do. It’s exciting.”

Just seven months after the 2014 Sochi Games, Osmond broke the fibula in her right leg in two places and underwent two surgeries.  Osmond almost called it a career but slowly, with the support of coach Ravi Walia, she began the slow, often painful, journey back.

On Friday, that journey culminated on the women’s Olympic podium.

“To think I almost hung up my skates then and called it quits, it’s amazing,” said Osmond. “But I don’t think I would have been able to perform the way I did today without the injury. I regrouped and almost became a new person afterwards.”

PHOTO: Greg Kolz

It was an remarkable showing for Canadian figure skaters in PyeongChang, with four medals. In addition to Osmond’s bronze and the gold in the team event, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir took gold in ice dance while Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford won bronze in pairs.

Two-time Canadian women’s champion Gabrielle Daleman struggled in her free program and finished 15th. Like Osmond, the reigning world bronze medallist was also part of the gold medal-winning Canadian team.

A tearful Daleman tried to keep things in perspective after a difficult skate.

“On warmup I felt fine, and it was about two minutes before my program started that I started to feel the nerves,” said Daleman. “I tried to get in my zone, tried to get in my bubble. Unfortunately, it’s sport; we all have good days, we have bad days. Today wasn’t my day.”

After her free program, Daleman received a consoling text, followed by a phone call, from her idol Rochette.

“She just said ‘You’re strong,’” said Daleman, choking up. “She can’t even explain what happened and that it’s happened to her, but she said that I was really strong at nationals and the team event. That’s what I’m going to remember about these Olympics.”

PyeongChang 2018 Figure Skating Schedule & Results

Virtue, Moir golden once again in unforgettable Olympic swan song

Three Canadian teams finish inside top eight

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea – For four minutes Monday night, back home in Canada, a nation was holding its breath.

And then, just like that, it was over. But not before Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir likely bid farewell to competitive skating in an emotional swan song that seemed to have its script ripped from the pages of a storybook.

Twenty-four hours after a stirring world record short dance – and just minutes after rivals and training partners Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France broke their own free dance world record – Canada’s ice dance sweethearts laid down one of the defining performances of their illustrious career to claim gold in PyeongChang.

Heading into the free dance leading Papadakis and Cizeron by 1.74 points, Virtue and Moir performed a mesmerizing program, scoring 122.40 for a world record combined score of 206.07. Papadakis and Cizeron took silver with 205.28, while siblings Maia and Alex Shibutani of the U.S. earned bronze with 192.59.

All three Canadian teams finished in the top eight. Two-time world medallists Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje were seventh, one spot in front of reigning Canadian silver medallists Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier.

The gold brings Virtue and Moir’s Olympic medal haul to five – three gold and two silver – making them the most decorated Olympic figure skaters ever.

“That was a fantastic performance, we gave it all we had out there,” said Moir. “We skated with our hearts.   We knew we were happy with our performance. We didn’t know if we won, that’s for sure.”

Taking to the ice as the final competitors of the day, Virtue and Moir admitted they had no idea of the world record number the French team, skating two teams in front of them, had put up.

“It wouldn’t have mattered,” admitted Virtue. “We needed to have our moment with the program we love so much.”

Following Olympic gold in 2010 and silver four years later in Sochi, Virtue and Moir – who have skated together, at every level, for two decades – took two years off before deciding to make one more run at the Olympics.  They returned in the fall of 2016, taking off on an undefeated season that ended with their third world title a year ago.  The only event they did not win over the past two seasons was a second-place finish to Papadakis and Cizeron at the Grand Prix Final in December.

After helping Canada win gold in the team event a week ago, Virtue and Moir stepped on competitive ice for what was likely the final time.

“It was an overwhelming feeling,” admitted Virtue of the emotion of the moment.  “That moment has replayed in my mind over and over again. You just never know what will go through your head. I couldn’t help but think about the 20 years we’ve spent working for this moment, and the incredible team of people behind us.”

The other Canadian teams were also pleased with their Olympic results.

“We created a moment for ourselves,” said Gilles. “I think both of us were really nervous going into the free knowing we did a really nice short dance yesterday. We took our time and embraced this Olympic energy, because it’s infectious.”

“Our goal was to bring our hearts and souls to this event, and we did that,” said Weaver. “We’re leaving here happy and look on to our next challenge.”

As their media scrum ended, Virtue and Moir were asked if they had any idea of the groundswell of support forming for them back home in Canada in recent days.

“In Ilderton, everybody knows my name, for sure,” laughed Moir.

“We really are in this insular little bubble, and it’s a very safe and protected place, so I’m not sure we have the scope of that,” added Virtue, referring to their surroundings at these Games.

“But at the same I really do feel that sense of support, and it lifted us here. Here I felt that unconditional love, and that helped us immensely. We do feel like this is for Canada, and we’re so excited to share this with everyone.”

The women’s event will wrap up figure skating competition in PyeongChang, with the short program slated to get underway Tuesday night at 8:00 pm ET. Gabrielle Daleman, Kaetlyn Osmond and Larkyn Austman will represent Canada in the event.

Photo Credit: David Jackson, COC

PyeongChang 2018 Figure Skating Schedule & Results

Patrick Chan finishes ninth in Olympic finale

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea – It was the end of one era of Canadian skating and maybe, just maybe, the start of another.

Patrick Chan’s storybook career, punctuated with three consecutive world championships and a record ten Canadian titles, likely saw the final chapter written Saturday in PyeongChang with a ninth- place showing at the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games.

When the dust had cleared on the quad-filled air show that was the men’s free program, Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu, who held off Chan for gold four years ago in Sochi, successfully defended his Olympic crown with 317.85 points. Hanyu’s countryman Shoma Uno finished 11 points back to win silver while Spain’s Javier Fernandez earned bronze.

Keegan Messing, making his Olympic debut just weeks after finishing second to Chan at the Canadian Tire National Skating Championships, was 12th.

American quad king Nathan Chen, who was lodged in 17th spot after a disastrous short program, nearly stole the show in the free, scoring 215.08 to vault into fifth with a 297.35 total.

After dominating the sport for most of his career, Chan, who went into the free skate 21 points behind Hanyu and 14 points off the podium, seemed at peace with himself heading into this season, and these Olympics. He has maintained all season that this final year was about enjoying this swan song, this moment, and not the medals and results.

“We’re seeing the transition now, the scale has tipped,” said Chan of the passing of the torch in men’s figure skating. “I’m so proud I was able to stick in it this long.

“I’m happy that I can leave these Games with a gold medal in the team event. Now I’m looking for gold medals in other things in my life.”

Last weekend, Chan earned his first Olympic gold as a member of Canada’s winning squad in the team event, bringing his career Olympic medal haul to a gold and two silvers.

There’s not much left for him to prove.

“Everything was very positive,” he said of the feeling going into the free program.

“I felt light. I had a little skip in my step. I wanted to be here, I wanted to step on that ice and do my long program. There was just a sense of excitement. Maybe that was knowing this is it.”

For Messing, who realized a lifelong dream of his own by making it to the Olympics, these Games were more of a learning experience.

“I am very pleased with my performance,” said Messing. “I was so excited to go out there and do what I’ve been training to do. I put down a solid performance, and I can leave the Olympics happy.”

Messing described his Olympic experience in a word.

“Wow,” he said.

As he was getting set to leave the interview area for the last time, Chan was asked what he thinks his legacy on the sport will be.

“I hope one day people will look back at my skating and what I’ve brought to the table and be like ‘Remember when Patrick skated like this or remember when skating was like this,” he said.

“That would be a cool legacy to leave behind.”

The ice dance competition now takes centre stage, with the short dance Sunday night at 8:00 pm ET. Canada will have three entries in the event, led by 2010 Olympic gold medallists and reigning world champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir.

PyeongChang 2018 Figure Skating Schedule & Results

Duhamel, Radford win Olympic pairs bronze in dramatic fashion

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea – In what may have been the swan song to a illustrious career, waiting turned out to be the hardest part for Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford.

Just a few days after helping Canada win gold in the figure skating team event, the two-time world and seven-time Canadian champions claimed pairs bronze Thursday in a drama-filled final hour of the pairs free program. Duhamel and Radford scored 153.33 in their free program, which included the first clean throw quad Salchow in Olympic history. The Canadians ended with a 230.15 total to win Canada’s first Olympic pairs medal since Jamie Salé and David Pelletier won gold in 2002.

Duhamel and Radford entered the free program in bronze medal position, just in front of Germany’s Aliona Savchenko and Bruno Massot. The German pair laid down the performance of their lives, setting a world record free program score of 159.31 to finish at 235.90, edging out reigning world champions Sui Wenjing and Han Cong of China (235.47) for gold.

It was the first Olympic gold medal for the legendary Savchenko, a five-time world champion.

The final flight was not for the faint of heart. Savchenko and Massot were flawless in their free program, throwing down the gauntlet to the three teams left to skate. Duhamel and Radford laid down a strong program of their own to stay in medal contention before Weijing and Cong scored 153.08 to slip into second spot, just behind the Germans.

All the three podium hopefuls could do was hurry up and wait as the final pair of the evening, Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov from the Olympic Athlete from Russia team, took to the ice.  Tarasova and Morozov had their struggles and fell to fourth.

“I think that was more intense that being backstage getting ready to skate,” said Radford of having to wait and see if they would stay on the podium. “I think we’re both really proud and a little surprised at how good we felt as the Germans were receiving their marks. It didn’t excite us or make us any more nervous. We were just like ‘all right, happy for them, they had a great skate, they got a great score, and now we’re going to do the same.’”

“While we were waiting and watching the Russian team skate, after they finished skating I was holding Eric’s hand and I said, ‘I think we did enough,’” said Duhamel.

“And Eric’s like, ‘No, I’m not going to believe it until the marks come up.’ And I was like ‘Eric, I need hope, I need to feel hopeful,’” she added with a laugh.

“We came to the Olympics and we just delivered four amazing performances – four out of four.”

The other two Canadian entries also had strong showings in their first Olympics together.

Julianne Séguin and Charlie Bilodeau scored 136.50 in their free program to finish ninth while Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro managed 132.43 to wind up 11th.

“Today was a little bit more of what we are capable of,” said Moore-Towers. “We had nothing to lose. There’s not an Olympic medal on the line for us. It was about bettering yesterday and bettering our performances this season.”

“Today was strictly about Kirsten and I, a learning experience and leaving it all out there on the ice,” added Marinaro.

“It was a great feeling,” said Séguin of their free program. “We were able to take the energy from the crowd, get in the zone and create a moment.”

With the pairs event now completed, the men take the ice for their short program Thursday night at 8:00 PM ET. Three-time world and ten-time Canadian champion Patrick Chan and first-time Olympian Keegan Messing represent Canada.

Medal Photo Credit: David Jackson/COC

PyeongChang 2018 Figure Skating Schedule & Results

GOOD AS GOLD: Team Canada finishes atop the podium at Olympic figure skating team event

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea  –   From the moment they first came together last summer at their high performance camp, this Canadian figure skating team has been on a mission.

Consider it mission accomplished.

Four years after placing second to Russia in the inaugural Olympic figure skating team event in Sochi, the Canadians finished what they set out to do early Monday, clinching the first gold medal for Canada at the PyeongChang Olympic Winter Games.

Canada finished the event with a staggering 73 points, seven more than the Olympic Athlete from Russia team. The U.S. took bronze with 62 points.

The Canadian squad arrived in PyeongChang with a quiet confidence and a collective focus on doing what needed to be done to take that one step higher on the podium.

Somehow, it only seemed fitting that Patrick Chan, the three-time world and ten-time Canadian champion, would play an integral part on the final day as he finally laid claim to that elusive gold medal, about the only piece of hardware missing from his crowded trophy case.

“In a big way, we want to do this for Chiddy,” said Scott Moir before the final day of competition, referring to Chan by his nickname.

“I think that’s what makes it so special.”

Thanks in part to Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford’s sterling performance in the pairs free program a day earlier, where they finished first and collected a vital 10 points for Canada, the Canadians held a comfortable six-point lead on the OAR squad heading into the final day.  Canada marched out Chan, Gabrielle Daleman, and Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir – the reigning Canadian champions in their respective disciplines – to try to close the deal and win Canada’s first gold medal of these Games.

Any hopes the OAR had of a final-day comeback were essentially put out of reach when Chan led off by scoring 179.75 to win the men’s free program. Daleman, who recently captured her second national title in Vancouver, followed up with a third-place showing in the women’s free.

By then, it was just a formality, and Virtue and Moir laid down a mesmerizing free dance to put an exclamation mark on a dominating performance by the Canadian team.

“It was nerve-wracking heading into this long program,” said Chan. “I haven’t been that nervous in a while.

“At the end of the day, a medal’s a medal,” added Chan.  “I’m going to hold this medal tight to me, and it’s going to be as good as the individual event. That’s how I’m going to see it, that’s how I’m going to enjoy it and that’s for me to decide.”

“We are a tight-knit group here in Canada. We can now embrace each other and know that collectively we did something amazing.”

“That was a great skate,” added Daleman. “I just skated with all my heart. We have such an incredibly strong team. I’m so glad we were able to make Canada proud this week.”

The Canadians will now turn their attention to the figure skating individual events, which get underway with the pairs short program Tuesday at 8:00 PM ET.

But before then, there will be a little time for this team to realize what they’ve just accomplished.  Not only is the gold the first for this country at these Games, it is the first Olympic figure skating gold since Virtue and Moir stood atop the podium eight years ago.

Virtue and Moir will now add a second Olympic gold medal to their resume. For Chan, Duhamel and Radford, Daleman and Kaetlyn Osmond, it is their first.

Although the rest of the 17-athlete Canadian team won’t step up the podium with their teammates, they stood as one, waving the Maple Leaf and cheering their teammates through the entire competition.

“We’ve all known each other for so long that it’s just this incredible story that we’ve all been through and it’s coming to its conclusion,” said Radford.

“We want to make it the best possible.”

That’s why this gold is so special.

It’s for their themselves. For their teammates. For Canada.

And, yes,  for Chiddy.

PyeongChang 2018 Figure Skating Schedule & Results

Canada in top spot after opening day of PyeongChang 2018 team event

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea – With the dust now settled on an eventful opening day of the figure skating team event at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympic Winter Games, Team Canada is right where they want to be.

With two of the four short programs kicking off the team event on the first day, Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford finished second in pairs and Patrick Chan placed third in men’s, vaulting Canada into top spot in the ten-team showdown.

Canada gained 17 of a possible 20 points on the opening day, putting them three points ahead of the United States. The Olympic Athletes from Russia (OAR) have 13 points and share third spot with Japan.

Coming off their seventh straight Canadian title, two-time world champions Duhamel and Radford scored 76.57 in an almost-flawless short program to earn nine points for Canada. Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov (OAR) finished in top spot with 80.92 points.

“That was the plan,” laughed Duhamel when told their performance had put the Canadians atop the standings.

“It was a good skate. That’s one of our higher scores, so we’re happy with that.”

A boisterous Team Canada sat in the kiss and cry at rinkside, cheering their teammates on loudly throughout the two programs.

“We’re a very strongly connected team,” said Radford. “There’s a great energy that’s building around the entire team.”

Earlier in the day, three-time world and ten-time Canadian champion Chan had a shaky short program but scored 81.66 to finish third and secure eight points for the Canadian squad.  Shoma Uno of Japan won the men’s short program with 103.25, while Israel’s Alexei Bychenko finished second.

“I think it’s just the early jitters at being at the Olympics again,” admitted Chan, who fell on both his quad toe loop and triple Axel.  “I’m glad I got this out of the way. I’m looking forward to the rest of the performances.”

Chan, wasn’t the only skater in the final group to struggle. Mikhail Kolyada, competing for Olympics Athletes from Russia, was a surprising eighth while Nathan Chen of the United States finished fourth.

The team event is a unique competition at the Olympics, with the top ten skating nations skating short programs in all four disciplines.  Points are awarded in descending order, with the first-place finisher earning ten points and the competitor placing 10th receiving one point. Only the top five teams will advance to the free program.

Canada placed second to Russia in the inaugural team event at the 2014 Sochi Olympic Winter Games.

The team event continues Saturday at 8:00 pm ET (Sunday morning in PyeongChang) with the short dance, women’s short program and pairs free program.

Photo: Greg Kolz

PyeongChang 2018 Figure Skating Schedule & Results

Olympic Spotlight : Larkyn Austman

Coming off her first season as a member of the national team, Larkyn Austman captured bronze at the Canadian Tire National Skating Championships to earn a spot on the Canadian figure skating team for PyeongChang 2018.

The 2013 junior women’s champion has followed in the footsteps of her mother, a competitive skater and former national novice champion herself.

The 19-year-old from Coquitlam, B.C. finished fourth at the 2017 Canadian Tire National Skating Championships to earn a spot on the national team and followed that up with a bronze at the Challenge Cup in the Netherlands, her first senior international competition.

Austman was also a flower retriever at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver and had an up close and personal view of Joannie Rochette’s unforgettable bronze medal performance.  She names Rochette and three-time Canadian champion Kaetlyn Osmond as her role models.

Olympic Spotlight : Kaitlyn Weaver / Andrew Poje

Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje head to PyeongChang for their second Olympic appearance after winning bronze at the Canadian Tire National Skating Championships.

The duo started skating together in 2006 and have been consistent medallists on the domestic and international stage. The two-time Canadian champions (2015, 2016) are also two-time world championship medallists, taking silver in 2014 and following up with bronze the next season. They also claimed back-to-back Grand Prix Final gold in 2014 and 2015.

Leading up to the 2013 ISU World Figure Skating Championships in London, Ont., Weaver and Poje had an eye on the podium before Weaver broke her fibula just before the Canadian championships and needed surgery. Despite the setback, Weaver and Poje competed at those 2013 world championships and finished an impressive fifth.

Olympic Spotlight : Kirsten Moore-Towers / Michael Marinaro

For the second consecutive year, Moore-Towers and Marinaro finished third at the Canadian Tire National Skating Championships, earning a spot on the Canadian team for the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games.

After teaming up in 2014, Moore-Towers and Marinaro notched their first ISU Grand Prix medal by winning bronze at 2015 Skate Canada International. In the summer of 2016, Moore-Towers suffered a concussion in training, keeping them out of action until they returned for the 2017 Canadian Tire National Skating Championships, finishing on the podium for the first time.

This past season, Moore-Towers and Marinaro won the U.S. International Classic, a Challenger Series event, and placed third at the Cup of China for their second Grand Prix medal. The pair finished sixth at Skate America in their other Grand Prix assignment.

Moore-Towers and former partner Dylan Moscovitch competed at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, where a photo of Moore-Towers and NHLer Zdeno Chara went viral.  They were also part of Canada’s silver medal-winning team in the inaugural team event at those Games.

Olympic Spotlight : Keegan Messing

The charismatic Keegan Messing will make his Olympic debut in PyeongChang after placing second at the Canadian Tire National Skating Championships in Vancouver.

Messing has competed at the Canadian national championships four times, finishing inside the top five on three occasions.

On the ISU Grand Prix circuit this season, Messing placed fifth at NHK Trophy and eighth at Skate Canada International. In short time, he has evolved into a crowd favourite with his infectious energy and high-flying skating style.

Growing up, Messing looked to Elvis Stojko and Kurt Browning as his skating role models.

Olympic Spotlight : Piper Gilles / Paul Poirier

Known for their exquisite artistry and crowd-pleasing choreography, Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier finished second at the 2018 Canadian Tire National Skating Championships to punch their ticket to the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games.

Their silver medal at the national championship was the sixth time they have reached the Canadians podium since coming together in 2011. On the ISU Grand Prix circuit this season, Gilles and Poirier placed fourth at both the Rostelecom Cup and Skate America.

Their Olympic berth comes four years after a heartbreaking setback on the road to the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi.  In the spring of 2013, Poirier suffered a fracture dislocation in his right ankle and underwent surgery. Gilles and Poirier were able to compete at the 2014 Canadian championships, but missed an Olympic berth by just one spot.

In 2014-15, Gilles and Poirier would win two silver medals on the ISU Grand Prix circuit before managing a career-best sixth place showing at the World Championships.

Gilles and Poirier have finished inside the top eight at the world championships for four consecutive years.

Olympic Spotlight : Julianne Séguin / Charlie Bilodeau

Julianne Séguin and Charlie Bilodeau are off to the Olympic Winter Games for the first time.

One year after missing the Canadian championships as Séguin recovered from a concussion, the rising stars from Montreal made a successful return to nationals with a silver medal at the 2018 Canadian Tire National Skating Championships, punching their ticket to PyeongChang 2018 as one of three Canadian pair entries.

On the ISU Grand Prix circuit this past season, Séguin and Bilodeau placed fifth at the Rostelecom Cup and fourth at NHK Trophy.

After a brilliant junior career which included a silver medal at the 2015 ISU World Junior Figure Skating Championships, Séguin and Bilodeau notched their first Grand Prix win at 2016 Skate America. They went on to place fifth at the ISU Grand Prix Final, their second consecutive top five finish at that event.

As juniors, Séguin and Bilodeau won both ISU Junior Grand Prix events they competed in in 2014 before winning the ISU Junior Grand Prix Final in just their second season together.

Séguin has skated in both pairs and singles, and won the junior women’s bronze medal at the 2012 Canadian championships.