Special by Guest Blogger Stephanie V.
On January 14, the Canadian Championships will start in London (Ontario). For the 2010 Olympics, Canada has two spots in each category. Who will be the skaters to watch?
Joannie Rochette - Back in the city where she got her first national title, the 2009 World silver medalist is on her way to get her 6th title in a row. The last skater who won six national titles is Jennifer Robinson (1996, 1999-2003). Joannie had a somewhat drab Grand Prix season compared to last year : a disastrous short program at the Cup of China, a not-so-great free skate at Skate Canada, and a Grand Prix Final to forget...nevertheless, she is the sure value of the ladies competition.
Cynthia Phaneuf - The 2004 national champion had her share of ups and (mostly) downs in the years that followed her national title. Her Grand Prix seasons were not so great. This season, she was 6th at the NHK Trophy, then Skate Canada was a disaster where Cynthia fell four times and finished 7th. At Nationals last year, she surprised everyone by finishing first in the short program. Despite her averge performances at the Grand Prix, she could be the one to take the second spot on the Canadian Olympic team.
Amélie Lacoste - Amélie won her first national medal (a bronze) in the seniors ranks, four years after she won the junior national title. In 2008, she did some try-outs to skate in pairs, but it didn't work out. This season was her first appareance in the senior Grand Prix circuit. She finished 7th at the Rostelecom Cup and 6th at Skate Canada just in front of Cynthia Phaneuf.
Diane Szmiett, the 2006 junior national champion, has finished a suprising 4th place at the 2009 Nationals, when she was 10th in 2008 and 13th in 2007. This season, she participed in her first senior Grand Prix competition, Cup of China, where she placed 8th.
Mira Leung is still in the race, despite her absence from international competition in 2009. National silver medalist from 2006 to 2008, she had a disastrous performance last year and finished in 6th place and was overtaken by two skaters who were still skating in the junior ranks on the international scene. So the question is: Will Leung fight back or just sink to the bottom?
Myriane Samson, the 2004 junior national champion, was 5th in 2007 and 2008. Last year, she had a very disappointing 11th place finish, which prevented her from getting Grand Prix assignements. She finished 4th at 2009 Finlandia Trophy behind Kiira Korpi, Laura Lepisto, and Alena Leonova.
Patrick Chan - The 2009 World silver medalist is on his way to his 3rd national title in a row. Chan had a difficult start this season. An injury prevented him from skating at Rostelecom Cup. At Skate Canada, he finished 6th place after a free skate where he fell three times. On January 8, Chan announced that he and his coach since 2007, Don Laws, ended their association. His choreographer, Lori Nichol and coach Christy Krall will now help Chan till the end of the seaon.
Shawn Sawyer - Sawyer finished 5th at the 2009 Nationals, after being the bronze medalist from 2005 to 2008. He went to the Torino Olympic Games, where he placed 12th. This season, after an 8th place finish at Rostelecom Cup, he won a surprising silver medal at Skate America... his first medal on the Grand Prix circuit.
Vaughn Chipeur - National silver medalist last year, Chipeur hasn't had a great season so far. His 12th (last) place finish at Trophée Éric-Bompard and his 11th place finish at NHK Trophy don't look great on his record. He will need to skate his absolute best at these championships.
Jeremy Ten - The 2007 junior national champion got a surprising bronze medal last year at the Canadian Championships. Like Chipeur, Jeremy hasn't had a great season so far: 10th at NHK Trophy and 12th at Skate Canada.
Kevin Reynolds - Reynolds almost had his place on the Canadian World team, last year but Jeremy Ten slipped past him. He's not the most exciting skater of the circuit, but he's had some relatively good results on the Grand Prix: 8th at Cup of China and 6th at Skate America.
Joey Russell, the 2006 junior national champion finished 6th at the 2009 Nationals. He received his first assignment on the senior Grand Prix this season. He placed 10th at Skate Canada, ahead of Jeremy Ten and... Kevin Van Der Perren!
Marc-André Craig returns on the national scene, after being absent last year. His last appearance on the Grand Prix was in 2006 where he finished 8th and 11th.
Ian Martinez was 7th last year. His single appearance on the Grand Prix was in 2008 at Skate America, where he placed 10th.
Pairs Contenders (Pairs are probably the most open division where anything can happen...):
Meagan Duhamel / Craig Buntin - Skating together since summer 2007, Meagan Duhamel and Craig Buntin have achieved good placements quickly. Buntin already went to the Torino Olympics with former partner, Valerie Marcoux. The pair finished 11th. Duhamel/Buntin placed 3rd at the 2008 Nationals and 2nd last year. This season, they had a good start, finishing 4th at Cup of China. They had to withdraw at Skate America, following Duhamel's nasty fall during the free skate. Now the question is: Has Duhamel returned to top form?
Jessica Dubé / Bryce Davison - The national champions in 2007 and 2009 went to the Torino Olympic Games where they finished 10th. Dubé/Davison had very good placements on the Grand Prix : 2nd at Trophée Eric-Bompard and 3rd at Skate Canada. They narrowly missed the Finale, finishing 7th in the Grand Prix standings. They will face fierce competition with the return of the 2008 national champions, Anabelle Langlois/Cody Hay, and also the presence of Meagan Duhamel/Craig Buntin.
Anabelle Langlois / Cody Hay - The 2008 national champions return after missing the whole 2008/2009 season, because of Anabelle's injury. Anabelle went once at the Olympics in 2002 with former partner, Patrice Archetto. They placed 12th. Langlois/Hay nearly missed the 2006 Olympic team by finishing 3rd when Canada had only 2 spots. This season, Langlois/Hay had one Grand Prix, Skate Canada, where they placed 4th. They also did the 2009 Nebelhorn Trophy, where they won the bronze medal behind Savchenko/Szolkowy and Volosozhar/Morozov.
Mylène Brodeur / John Mattatall - National bronze medalists last year, Brodeur/Mattatall went to the Four Continents and Worlds for the first time where they placed 8th and 10th. They had good results this season on the Grand Prix : 6th at Rostelecom Cup and 5th at NHK Trophy.
Paige Lawrence / Rudi Sweigers finished a suprising 4th place last year. They did only one Grand Prix competition, NHK Trophy, where they placed 7th.
Kirsten Moore-Towers / Dylan Moscovitch are a new team since spring 2009. Previously, Dylan was skating with his younger sister, Kyra. The new pair had Skate Canada as their first international competition and they placed 6th.
Monica Pisotta / Michael Stewart didn't do any Grand Prix competitions this season. They are a team to watch as they finished 5th at their first senior Canadians championships last year.
Anne-Marie Giroux / Eric Radford are a new pair since summer 2009. Previously, Radford teamed with Rachel Kirkland. They probably won't have a shot at the Olympics but it will be interesting to see what kind of promise this new team has.
Ice Dance Contenders:
Tessa Virtue / Scott Moir - The 2009 World bronze medalists will be seeking their 3rd national title in a row. They missed the entire 2008/2009 Grand Prix season, after Virtue had surgery on her legs. In 2006, they narrowly missed the Olympic selection as Meagan Wing/Aaron Lowe placed ahead of them. They had an excellent season on the Grand Prix this year: 1st at Trophée Eric-Bompard and Skate Canada and 2nd at the Finale behind their training teammates, Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White.
Kailyn Weaver / Andrew Poje - Weaver/Poje were bronze medalists last year, behind Vanessa Crone/Paul Poirier. They didn't go to Worlds, after making the world team in 2007 and 2008. They had a somewhat good Grand Prix, this season: 6th at Cup of China and 3rd at Skate Canada... their first medal on the Grand Prix circuit. Weaver got her Canadian citizenship in July 2009, which makes this team eligible for the Olympics.
Vanessa Crone / Paul Poirier - At their second showing at the senior Canadian championships, Crone/Poirier won the silver medal. The 2007 junior national champions and the 2008 Junior World silver medalists had a great Grand Prix season with a 4th place at Rostelecom Cup and 3rd place at NHK Trophy... and a surprise qualification at the Grand Prix Final after the withdrawal of Belbin/Agosto and Khokhlova/Novitski. They placed 6th at this competition.
Andrea Chong / Guillaume Gfeller are a team since 2007. They finished 4th, last year. They did one Grand Prix this season, Skate Canada, where they finished 8th.
Allie Hann-McCurdy / Michael Coreno, the 2006 junior national champions finished a disappointing 6th place last year. In 2008, they won the bronze medal. They switched coachs at the end of the 2008/2009 season, leaving Victor Kraatz for the team of Marina Zoueva/Igor Shpilband. They participed in one Grand Prix, NHK Trophy, where they placed 8th.
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