Sports Olympics will be the final farewell tour for Canadian figure skating elite

18:54  15 january  2018
18:54  15 january  2018 Source:   Toronto Star

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Canada 's veteran skaters are ready to write their own endings in Pyeongchang, Rosie DiManno writes.

At the other end of the room, Moir — he and Virtue have been named co-captains of the Olympic figure skating squad — is waxing eloquent about Chan. They are , the collective 11, writing their final chapter together.


VANCOUVER—Their “best-before” date hasn’t quite arrived yet, fingers crossed.

That hopefully won’t happen until the Pyeongchang Games are won and done, at least for the 11 of 17 figure skaters formally named to Team Canada on Sunday who have been there before and aren’t expected to pass the Olympic way again.

But for the moment, for these Winter Games, Canada is sending the largest, most experienced figure skating complement ever to South Korea, currently ranked No. 1 globally, as determined by world medals collected and results over the past Grand Prix season, ahead of Russia and the United States.

The returnees: Patrick Chan, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, Gabrielle Daleman, Kaetlyn Osmond, Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford, Kirsten Moore-Towers, Paul Poirier, Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje.

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Figure Skating video lessons from the world’s best coaches. The year also marked another landmark for Brian – his farewell to touring . The tour was Brian’s final tour , though not a full-out retirement – he’ll still perform in the occassional show, but the life on the road of endless suitcases

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The debutants: Keegan Messing, Larkyn Austman, Julianne Seguin and Charlie Bilodeau, Michael Marinaro and Piper Gilles.

In Sochi, there were only three returning Olympians: Chan, Virtue and Moir.

At the risk of looking too far ahead — what comes afterwards — the country has just dipped a toe into its skating transformation as one generation segues to the next.

“What makes us strong is that we’re well-balanced in all four disciplines, which we’ve never had before,” says Mike Slipchuk, high performance director for Skate Canada. “We’ve had world medals, world championships, in almost every category, which puts us in a good position.’’

For now. And of course the immediate now is what matters most, although the sport’s brain trust is always looking forward, projecting, weighing the potential of youngsters working their way up the food chain. “It’s a real changing of the guard,” Slipchuck continues. “We haven’t had such a wholesale change like this that I can remember.”

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After her skating farewell tour in 2008 (at age 43!), she appeared as a judge on TV skating show, and most recently starred in a German TV movie. Pingback: Mid- Olympics Round Up: Bring Out The Tissues | cookies + sangria. Pingback: Live Blog: Ladies’ Figure Skating Final – Sochi 2014

A decade after winning their first national titles, figure skating icons Patrick Chan and Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir look to go out on top and build momentum for the Olympics and what will likely be their final Canadian championships.

Again, that’s a post-Pyeongchang issue, when the likes of Chan, Virtue and Moir, two-time world pairs champions Duhamel and Radford, perhaps ice dancers Weaver and Poje, pivot away from competition, making their full-time bones on the show tour circuit or pursuing a Second Chapter career outside the world of figure skating.

“We’re at the point where it’s time for the other men to step up,” notes Slipchuk, referring in particular to a clutch of teenage jump-adepts who acquitted themselves quite well over the weekend at the national championships, like 19-year-old Nam Nguyen, who was quad-cool but missed the Olympic invitation by less than two points. Unfortunately, this is one of the few Olympics where Canada can send only two men, Chan and silver medallist Messing. Canada has three spots each for women’s, pairs and dance.

In pairs, the silver and bronze duos are still relatively young but with international competition miles on them. Ditto for ice dance. And never before has Canada had such a strong female contingent, led by Daleman and Osmond, silver and bronze medallists at the 2017 world championships. Both are in for another Olympiad quadrennial.

Virtue, Moir capture 8th Canadian title in last national appearance

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A comprehensive look at Canadian figure skating brought to you by the official site of the Canadian Olympic team. The sum of the TSS for the short program and free skate determines the final results.

A decade after winning their first national titles, figure skating icons Patrick Chan and Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir look to go out on top and build momentum for the Olympics and what will likely be their final Canadian championships.

The main difference between outward-bound vets and those following in their footsteps is that many of the latter — Nguyen and pairs team Seguin and Bilodeau notable exceptions — have not racked up title pedigree in their junior careers. “But we have two years to build,” adds Slipchuk, optimistically. That’s two years before the worlds are hosted by Montreal.

For the rest, those who will wave goodbye to the Olympics after one final fling, these are both anxious and poignant days. So many of them matriculated through the Skate Canada system together, have been constant companions through the competitive grind through so many years.

“To look back at when we grew up, being at our first senior nationals, to now, our last, I couldn’t have asked for a better group of friends,” says Chan, 27, who just lassoed his 10th Canadian title. He was seventh at the Vancouver Olympics, second at Sochi, and a bit of a Hamlet over the past season, weaving together the threads of a comeback which, at times, seemed to be unravelling fast.

“We’ve all been there for each other at different times and if we needed something from somebody, someone was always there. It’s such an inclusive group of people. If you look at all the other countries, there hasn’t been a consistent group of skaters for this many years. That creates a very strong bond.”

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Final group in each event will be broadcast on ctv. Some of the most legendary skaters in Canadian figure skating history will be on hand to shake hands, sign autographs and maybe even offer a tip or two. 14:30 Adult Skating / Special Olympics Demonstration.

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At the other end of the room, Moir — he and Virtue have been named co-captains of the Olympic figure skating squad — is waxing eloquent about Chan.

“He’s been such a joy to watch. And you have to see him live. If you see him on TV, you can’t feel your hair blow back when you’re close to the ice. So much speed — and the command! That’s Patrick Chan, we’ve been blessed to have him. And we’re going to have a whole bunch of kids coming up with that same set of skills because they’ve watched Patrick their whole lives.”

Oh, the stories Moir could tell about Chan from the last decade, from the competitive assignments and their Stars on Ice gigs. But he won’t. “If I tell you Patrick Chan stories, then he can tell you Scott Moir stories. So we’ve got to keep that truce.”

It’s been an emotional week for Moir and Virtue, who collected their eighth Canadian title, knowing it would be their last, wishing fervently to go out on a double-program blast with their two new programs, the Latin-themed short (with music by The Rolling Stones, The Eagles and Santana) and their edgy Moulin Rouge long.

“It’s incredibly special, having grown up with so many of these skaters,” says Virtue. “We’ve all travelled together and toured together and experienced so many firsts — first nationals, first world championships, first Grand Prix, first Olympics. There are just so many bonding experiences, memories we’ll cherish for a long time. And also a certain understanding — they know exactly what we’re going through. At a time like this especially, that’s reassuring, when it feels like you have the weight of the world on your shoulders.”

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For Duhamel and Radford, it was national title No. 7. Each had previous partners: Duhamel with Craig Bunton through 2010 when he retired after a litany of injuries; Radford with Anne-Marie Giroux

Duhamel almost hung ’em up with Bunton, until agreeing to a try-out with Radford, who was likewise conflicted after parting from Giroux.

“As much as Meagan was about to retire in after 2010, I was in the same boat,” Radford recalls. “I didn’t know if it was worth it to keep going. I always believed I had the talent to go far in the sport but I wasn’t going to do it on my own.”

Ice dancers Tessa Virtue, left, and Scott Moir have been named co-captains of Canada's Olympic figure skating team.© JONATHAN HAYWARD Ice dancers Tessa Virtue, left, and Scott Moir have been named co-captains of Canada's Olympic figure skating team.

Then Meagan glided out of the mist.

“A changing and defining moment is when we won our first national title,” says Radford. “It sparked something inside of us. We had been trying to prove to ourselves for so long that we were worthy. In that moment, it was, ‘Ahhh, there it is.’ That’s where it all kind of magically happened. From there, that momentum kept building and building and building.”

They are, the collective 11, writing their final chapter together. And then they’ll close the book.

  • Mea culpa: In the paper version of the Sunday Star, I stupidly reversed the silver and bronze ice dance medallists at the Canadian championships over the weekend. Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier finished second, Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje were third.

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