Debbi Wilkes, speaks with Saskatchewan’s Doug Steele, whose career in skating spans decades from learn-to-skate toddler to Skate Canada President. Along the way, Doug was tasked with developing the national and international competitive framework for what was to become Synchronized Skating.
“Worlds 2019 … From the Stands”
By Eric Radford, World Pair Champion
Landing in Japan to attend the 2019 World Figure Skating Championships felt surprisingly foreign to me this past March. Sitting on the plane for 14 hours and not thinking about my triple Lutz or a Throw quad and just being able to lose myself in a movie felt very different than what I had been feeling just over a year prior.
For the 2019 Worlds, I was still competing but this time off the ice in order to campaign for the ISU Athletes Commission. The position is voted on by the Athletes at the competition and this year there were two candidates.
Arriving to the hotel and registering was strange. Normally, before arriving to the competition, Meagan and I would have seen the schedule and decided which practices we would do along with which bus we would need to take and which programs we would do on each practice. Not having the typical schedule left me feeling strangely lost.
But arriving at the arena and seeing so many familiar faces was wonderful and made me feel right at home. At the end of each competition you never know if you will see your friends again and seeing them in that moment … I felt very fortunate. Watching practices, recognizing the improvements made since last season and seeing the athletes in their peak condition reminded me of how incredible figure skaters really are.
When the competition started, any feelings I had of missing competing swiftly gave way to relief that I didn’t have to step on that ice in that moment. Getting to sit back and just enjoy the competition was so nice.
After the voting closed and the final counts were tallied, I got the message that I had been voted on to the Athletes Commission. It felt like skating a clean program at Worlds!
All in all, getting to go back to the World Championships again and experience it from a different angle and with a different perspective is something I will always remember and cherish. Now, I look forward to gathering with the other Commission members in June to bring ideas forward to the ISU and give the Athletes a strong voice as our sport continues to grow and evolve.
2019 Skate Canada Synchronized Skating Championships – “The True Meaning of Teamwork!”
(This story was written before the 2019 World Synchronized Skating Championships)
NEXXICE Senior, World Champion 2009, Canadian Champion 2009 – 2013
If I were to describe the senior event at Nationals in one word, it would be “inspiring”. Spectators of all ages filled the venue, most sitting, but some forced to stand because the best seats were already taken. The young faces watched in admiration, cheering on their favourite team and skaters, their wide eyes dreaming of skating at that level and moving with as much speed and passion. The older faces remembered the years when they fell in love with synchronized skating, inspired by the grand steps the discipline has taken and by those skaters they’ve watched move up through the ranks.
Being at Nationals, felt like we were a part of something more, and we were! We were a part of skating history! We witnessed a new Canadian Champion in Nova, an artistic free program from NEXXICE, and a fight to the very end just as you’d expect from Les Suprêmes.
NEXXICE Senior, World Champion 2009, Canadian Champion 2009
I continue to be amazed at the quality and creativity in the Novice category. Synchro in Canada has a bright future!
The senior event was especially amazing. We’ve entered a new era for Synchro… seeing a relatively new senior team crowned champion speaks volumes for the sport. I’m so encouraged by how synchronized skating in Canada continues to develop by leaps and bounds every year.
I love when Synchro Nationals are near a major city within reach of lots of Synchro fans. Waterloo was such a fantastic location for Nationals, as it allowed people to travel from across the GTA to cheer on all the teams.
The energy in the building was electric. I always tell people, “If you haven’t seen a synchro competition live, you’re missing out!”
NEXXICE Senior, Manager – 15 years
Synchro Nationals this year was very different for me on all levels. Before the event I was notified that I was entitled to two complimentary tickets and would be sitting in the stands for the very first time and not working behind the scenes.
My daughter came with me and our seats were beside the judges’ stand. It didn’t take long for me to realize that for the spectators it becomes a very social time. So many old friends came who have been involved in the synchro world for a very long time. It made me feel proud about my involvement and dedication to the sport and especially to all the skaters who I have met and ‘mothered’ over the years.
So enjoyable to sit back and watch the different levels perform such beautiful programs. BUT you could start to feel the excitement in the building for the Senior Short program. Frankly, I was a nervous wreck! Les Suprêmes, NEXXICE and NOVA all skated extremely well and with marks which were very close.
On Saturday, the Waterloo Complex filled up early. The noise level was incredible with everyone chatting and trying to predict the outcome of the senior event. Again, the teams performed their best and NOVA came out on top with a flawless program which brought a standing ovation from everyone in the arena. It was so breathtaking, I wanted to hit the rewind button to watch it again.
It was a wonderful Nationals and I did enjoy being a spectator. That weekend was a turning point for me, feeling that I have come full circle from that first day as a mom.
NEXXICE Senior, World Champion 2009 & 2015, Canadian Champion 2009 – 2013, 2015
The senior event this year at the 2019 National Synchronized Skating Championships was one to be remembered. The anticipation for this event all began at the beginning of the season when the teams were first starting to show their programs. Everyone in the synchro community knew that this year would be a fight for the top 2 senior spots to go to the World Synchronized Skating Championships in Helsinki, Finland.
All eyes turned to Nova Senior when they won their international competition at the Mozart Cup in Austria. This team blew everyone away with their amazing skating and beautiful/powerful programs.
At Nationals on the day of the senior free event, the excitement in the arena was electric. You could feel the tension, stress and nerves swirling around in the building.
I thought all the teams gave it their all and truly skated in the moment. All three teams were more than deserving of the top 2 spots. As a spectator, I think I had more nerves than some of the skaters!
It was sad to see Les Suprêmes get bumped to third and out of the world spot. They have been such a force at Worlds for many years and their programs this year were absolutely beautiful. Even though they are not going to Worlds they showed everyone that they are a force to be reckoned with and will be back strong and ready to fight again next year.
NEXXICE had two stunning performances which earned them the 2nd They were so clean and precise in both their programs. Their free program especially tells such a strong story, you are pulled in from the moment they take their first step right until their ending position … gorgeous. It will be very exciting to see their programs on the World stage.
Nova had an absolutely stunning skate which landed them in the top spot. Their performance brought many to their feet for a standing ovation. I think many in the audience wanted to see them make it. Since they are a newer team that has not yet been to the World Championships, it was nice to see them have such a moment in the kiss and cry after their performance once they found out their marks. I cannot wait to see their performances at Worlds!
Overall, the 2019 National Synchronized Skating Championships was another one for the books. Regarding the senior event, there was some history made with Nova Senior winning and making it to the World Championships this year. What an awesome competition to witness as a spectator. Thanks Waterloo Recreational Centre for another unforgettable Nationals!
Best of Luck to NEXXICE and NOVA Senior at the World Synchronized Skating Championships!!
NEXXICE Senior, World Champion 2009
For the first time since 2010, I was a spectator at a National Championship. Sure, there was one year in between when I did not compete at Nationals and watched on a live stream on my laptop, but this was the first time in as long as I can remember when I got to experience it live as a spectator. Even though I was not on the ice competing, the energy and passion that live inside me were more intense than ever.
The week leading up to the Nationals, I was extremely excited. I counted down the days. I was excited to relax and watch some great skating, not having to worry about competing myself.
It was not as relaxing as I thought. I was nervous. I was anxious. I just wanted every single skater on the ice to have the best skate possible. I felt myself truly enjoying the sport and reliving these emotions with the skaters. When I see a team elated after they skate, I get emotional. No matter the level. I love the highs that this sport gives you.
The senior event was the most exciting one I’ve seen in a long time. You did not know who would come out on top. It challenged the teams. It brought me back to when I was on Novice and Junior and the top four teams (Black Ice, Fusion, NEXXICE, Les Suprêmes) really fought against each other, to be the best they could be. You never knew who would win back then either. I shed a tear of joy for Nova & a tear of sadness for Les Suprêmes. I’ve been on both ends of that spectrum in my synchro journey, and I know exactly what those moments feel like.
The arena was full. Full of supporters of the sport. Full of family, friends. Full of people who know what this sport means to so many people. The synchro community is one like no other. Right now, it seems like the world, the Olympics, don’t recognize the sport like they should, but in those moments, it doesn’t matter to me.
This year my parents could not come to watch the Nationals, but I texted them to tell them “go watch the live stream. You need to see these teams!” They still get excited for it too.
One of the best parts of the Nationals weekend was looking to my left and to my right in the stands. My best friends sitting beside me. My best friends who I met because of the sport. My best friends, who later that night, I would ask to be my bridesmaids. This sport connects people like no other. You experience emotions you’d never experience without having a team sport in your life.
It’s crazy to think it’s been 10 years since I won my last senior title. I’m glad I love the sport as much now as I did back then.
NEXXICE Senior, World Champion 2009 & 2015, Canadian Champion 2008 – 09, 2014 – 15
Synchronized skating made me who I am today.
It gave me strength and grace,
Edge and flow,
It brings you full circle when you start seeing former teammates with children.
After a couple of years, you start to miss slicking your hair back.
Love how the Novice level has progressed.
See you at the next event!
Olympian Paige Lawrence ties the knot!
Paige Lawrence and pair partner Rudi Swiegers competed in the 2014 Sochi Olympics and are four time national medalists from 2011-2014.
Last weekend on May 25, Paige married Richmond Champion, who is a professional bareback rider (rodeo). They got married at Paige’s parents ranch in Kennedy, Saskatchewan, which is her childhood home.
Paige and Richmond have been living in Texas but just made the move to a little town in Montana!
We wish Paige and Richmond a lifetime of happiness and adventure!
Skate Canada mourns the passing of Hall of Famer Bruce Hyland
Skate Canada is saddened by the passing of Hall of Famer Bruce Hyland. He passed away peacefully at age 92 on May 22, 2019 surrounded by his family. Hyland was a successful ice dancer with his wife Margaret and together the went onto create the Metropolitan Ice Skating Schools.
Together they would teach thousands of Canadians in figure skating, hockey and power skating. As a coach, Hyland taught at the elite level. For eighteen consecutive years he would coach at world and Olympic events. His motivational and optimistic approach to coaching lead many of his skaters to success. Included among his students were 1962 World Pair Champions Maria and Otto Jelinek and 1964 Olympic silver medalists Debbi Wilkes and Guy Revell.
A celebration of life for Hyland will take place at a later date, please click here for more information.
Skate Canada offers its sincere sympathies to Hyland’s family and friends.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Heart and Stroke Foundation or the Skate Canada Athlete Fund at https://skatecanada.ca/donate/ways-to-give/
Skate Canada celebrates Marie-France Dubreuil and Patrice Lauzon’s induction into the Skate Canada Hall of Fame
In 2015, Skate Canada inducted Marie-France Dubreuil and Patrice Lauzon. Both from Montreal, they were a force on the international ice dance scene for nearly a decade; they enter the Hall in the athlete category. One of Canada’s most loved dance teams, they paired up in 1995. They went on to win the Canadian Championships five times (2000, 2004-2007) and won world silver medals in 2006 and 2007. They competed at the Olympic Winter Games in 2002 and 2006. Dubreuil and Lauzon retired in 2008 and began a successful career in Montreal coaching athletes to Olympic and World podiums.
This past weekend, Skate Canada recognized their induction through a special ceremony during Skate Canada’s annual Awards Banquet at the 2019 Ice Summit held in Ottawa, Ont.
Marie-France Dubreuil also received Skate Canada Competitive Coach/Choreographer Award of Excellence.
We are proud of Marie-France Dubreuil and Patrice Lauzon’s contributions to the skating world. We wish them continued success!
Video of their special celebration at the Awards Banquet at the 2019 Ice Summit
World & Olympic Champion Kaetlyn Osmond Retires from Competitive Skating
2018 world champion, Kaetlyn Osmond, 23, Marystown, N.L./Edmonton, Alta., announced her retirement from competitive figure skating today. Osmond is Canada’s most decorated female singles skater with three Olympic medals, two world championships medals and three national titles.
“Competition has been such a rewarding part of my life. Having a purpose and accomplishing goals beyond my wildest dreams has been incredibly fulfilling. No words will ever describe the emotions competitions carry,” said Osmond. “I would like to thank my coaches, family, friends, and Skate Canada for all the support they have given me over the years. Leaving competition is terrifying, but I am excited to see what else life has to offer.”
Osmond won her first Canadian title in 2013 and would go on to win two more in 2014 and 2017. Over the course of her decorated career, Osmond would compete at two Olympic Games in 2014 and 2018. At the 2014 Olympics she won the silver medal for the team event. In 2018 she added two more Olympic medals to her collection, a bronze in the individual women’s event and gold in the team event.
“It was truly a pleasure to have had a skater like Kaetlyn represent Canada. Kaetlyn brought energy to our Canadian team and inspired many young women around the world with her talent,” said Debra Armstrong, CEO, Skate Canada. “Kaetlyn’s accomplishments on the ice are only matched by her outgoing and kind personality and Skate Canada wishes Kaetlyn the very best in the next chapter of her life.”
During her senior career, Osmond won two world championship medals, winning gold in 2018 and a silver in 2017. In 2018 she became the first Canadian woman to win the world championship title in 45 years. On the ISU Grand Prix circuit, she picked up four medals and would go on to qualify for the ISU Grand Prix Final in 2016 and 2017, earning a bronze medal in 2017.
“It has been a pleasure to be a part of Kaetlyn’s amazing journey. She has done so much for skating in Canada and her dedication to the sport led her to three Olympic medals and a world championship title. Skate Canada is incredibly proud and grateful for Kaetlyn’s contribution to our national team and we wish her the best in her future endeavours,” said Mike Slipchuk, High Performance Director, Skate Canada.s
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