Figure skaters make final stop en route to Beijing 2022 at Canadian Championships – Team Canada

Skate Canada/Danielle Earl

Friday was short program day at the Canadian Tire National Skating Championships in Ottawa.

The national championships are the last competition to be considered in the selection of the Canadian Olympic figure skating team, which will be announced on Sunday, following Saturday’s free skates. Results at national championships are not the only determining factor in Olympic team selection, as the Skate Canada High Performance Committee will also consider results at international competitions over the past year.

Here’s a quick recap of what happened in the short programs:

rhythm dance

Reigning world bronze medalists Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier scored 86.98 points to take the lead in the rhythm dance. The only issue in their tech rating was a level three on the required Midnight Blues model. Otherwise, they achieved level four top on all of their other elements and received strong component ratings, including two individual perfect 10s.

Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier dance side by side
Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier compete in the rhythm dance at the 2021 Canadian Tire National Skating Championships Photo: Skate Canada/Danielle Earl

Gilles and Poirier are looking to win their second straight national title before heading to their second Olympics together. They won two Grand Prix medals this fall and qualified for the Grand Prix Final, which was unfortunately canceled in December due to the most recent wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“First and foremost, we see this competition as a training opportunity for the Olympic Games. This is where we really want to peak,” Poirier said in the virtual mixed zone. “We’re just excited to be back on a competitive stage, presenting these programs and I think we’re really trying to be present in the performances.”

Laurence Fournier Beaudry and Nikolaj Soerensen are second with 81.04 points. Eighth at the 2021 World Championships, the duo are looking to compete in their first Olympics after missing out on the opportunity in 2018. At that time, they represented Soerensen’s native Denmark on the international stage, but Fournier Beaudry didn’t been able to obtain the Danish citizenship necessary to be eligible for the Olympics. . In 2018 they decided to compete for Canada and Soerensen – who has lived in Montreal for a decade – received his Canadian citizenship late last summer.

Laurence Fournier Beaudry and Nikolaj Sorensen perform a dance pirouette
Laurence Fournier Beaudry and Nikolaj Soerensen compete in the rhythm dance at the 2021 Canadian Tire National Skating Championships Photo: Skate Canada/Danielle Earl

In third place are fellow Montreal Ice Academy trainers Marjorie Lajoie and Zachary Lagha, who scored 76.67 points. The 2019 World Junior Champions made their world championship debut last March.

Canada has three ice dance spots available for Beijing 2022.

Men’s short program

Keegan Messing overcame a travel odyssey and lost baggage to take first place after the men’s short program. It wasn’t his best performance, as he turned his planned triple Axel into a single, but that night was enough.

Messing had spent 33 hours in transit from his home port in Alaska to Ottawa via three flights. Arriving later than expected and with his suitcase stuck in Toronto, he found himself without skates until Friday. On Thursday, he had gotten himself a new pair and tried to break them in quickly. But he did not have to participate after retrieving his luggage.

Keegan Messing performs a sit spin
Keegan Messing performs his routine during the senior men’s short program at the National Skating Championships on Friday January 7, 2022 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Messing opened with a beautiful quad toe-triple toe combo and also landed a triple Lutz to help him earn 84.38 points. That put him just under three points ahead of second-placed Wesley Chiu at 81.47 points. At just 16, Chiu competed on the Junior Grand Prix circuit last fall, winning a gold and a bronze, before competing in his first senior international event in November. His only mistake was a landing exit from his triple Axel.

Joseph Phan is in third place with 78.14, closely followed by Roman Sadovsky with 77.17 points.

Canada has two men’s spots for Beijing 2022. Messing’s sixth-place finish at the 2021 World Championships locked one and made Canada eligible for a second quota spot, which Sadovsky secured for the country at the Nebelhorn Trophy in September.

Short program in pairs

After a disappointing first half of the season, Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro showed exactly what they were capable of in the pairs short program. The two-time national champions looked solid in the execution of their technical elements as they totaled 73.02 points to take first place. They are more than six points ahead of current second-place team Evelyn Walsh and Trennt Michaud.

Moore-Towers and Marinaro received positive execution ratings on all elements except their opening triple twist. They landed their triple toes side by side as well as the thrown triple loop. They also received the highest component scores in the field. They are looking to compete in their second consecutive Olympic Games together.

Walsh and Michaud, who finished 12th at the last two world championships in 2019 and 2021, also had their best performance of the season with 66.88 points. They only had slight issues on one element, the side-to-side triple toes. They have been runners-up at the last two national championships and would like to make their Olympic debut in a few weeks.

Just over three points behind them are two teams separated by just two tenths of a point. Deanna Stellato and Maxime Deschamps (63.54) retain third place ahead of Vanessa James and Eric Radford (63.33).

James and Radford made headlines in April when they announced they were coming out of retirement to form a new partnership. They were the top Canadian couple in the Grand Prix Series this fall with two fourth place finishes, but they were still working through some of the struggles that come with being a new pair. They, along with Stellato and Deschamps, are competing at the Nationals on just four days of training after being out for two weeks following positive tests for COVID-19 in late December. In their short program at Nationals, James fell on her triple Salchow and they had trouble with their triple twist, an element that depends on the right timing.

Canada has two spots for Beijing 2022. Stellato and Deschamps will not be considered for the Olympic team as she was born in the United States and has not yet received Canadian citizenship.

Women’s short program

Madeline Schizas was the star of the women’s short program and will take a 12.70 point lead in Saturday’s free program.

Schizas’ clean performance included a triple Lutz-triple toe combo and a solo triple loop along with the requisite double Axel. The 18-year-old got level four on her three laps as well as her step streak scoring 72.05 points.

Madeline Schizas takes a leap in competition
Madeline Schizas skates during the senior women’s short program at the National Skating Championships, in Ottawa, Friday, Jan. 7, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Veronik Mallet is second with 59.35 points, just ahead of two-time Olympian Gabrielle Daleman with 58.48 points. Daleman, who was part of Canada’s team gold medalist at PyeongChang 2018, doubled the expected triple toe off the back of his combo and landed on the triple Lutz.

Schizas has been the most consistent Canadian skater in women’s singles in 2021. In her world championship debut in March – which was also her first major senior international competition – she finished ninth in the short program and 13th overall to earn the Canada a women’s quota spot for Beijing 2022. This fall, she competed in her first Grand Prix events, culminating in her sixth-place finish at the Rostelecom Cup, where she placed fourth in the short program.

“The Olympics weren’t even on my radar until the world championships last year,” said Schizas, who has had a great rise since winning bronze at the 2020 Canadian Championships. qualified Canada for a spot at the Games, that’s when I thought, ‘You know, I could do this. I could qualify.

Canada has only one women’s spot available for Beijing 2022.

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