Emerging athletes have bright figure skating future: Skate Canada director

Emerging athletes have bright figure skating future: Skate Canada director

VANCOUVER — Several of the country’s marquee figure skaters have stepped away from competition, but Skate Canada’s high performance director says a talented crop of athletes has emerged in their absence.

“We had a very extraordinary group that was with us for a long time,” Mike Slipchuk said Friday at the Grand Prix Final in Vancouver, where just one Canadian (Keegan Messing) qualified for the senior competition.

“But we’re happy with what we see with our seniors and we have a lot of good juniors coming up. We know the future will be bright.”

Patrick Chan and the pairs team of Eric Radford and Meagan Duhamel all retired earlier this year after putting in strong performances with the Canadian squad that brought home two gold and two bronze medals from February’s Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Gold medal-winning ice dancers Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir have also stepped away from competition.

Others, including reigning world champion Kaetlyn Osmond, have opted to take time off following the Olympic success. It’s not uncommon for skaters to take some time away from competition in a season following a Winter Games.

The successful Canadian skaters have all played a crucial role in the nurturing of the up-and-coming group of athletes, Slipchuk said.

“What those skaters did is they allowed this group underneath them to develop and have the time to grow and develop and be ready to step forward,” he said.

The group’s success in South Korea is also a push for the next generation.

“It helped their legacy with Canadian skating, but it also helps motivate that group behind,” Slipchuk said.

Messing said earlier this week that working with and watching Chan has helped him grow as a skater.

The 26-year-old wasn’t originally in the lineup here, with his scores on this year’s Grand Prix circuit qualifying him instead for the first alternate position. He gained a spot when reigning Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan dropped out with an ankle injury.

Messing sat in sixth and last place after the men’s short program on Thursday.

Skate Canada was hoping to have skaters in the ice dance, pairs and men’s events this year, Slipchuk said.

“Sometimes the numbers just don’t add up,” he said, adding that ice dancers Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier and pairs skaters Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro have proven this year that they’re ready to take the next step in their competitive careers.

“We like what we see from the team this year and we know that as we move through to the (world) championships, we’re going to be in a good position.”

There’s also a lot of talent percolating in juniors and the development streams, Slipchuk said.

Thirteen-year-old Stephen Gogolev has burst on to the junior scene in his first year of eligibility for the Grand Prix circuit. He sat in second following the men’s short program on Thursday.

“He’s a young skater with just huge potential. And this is step one along the way,” Slipchuk said.

Junior ice dancers Marjorie Lajoie and Zachary Lagha were in fourth place and just 0.04 points out of the top three after their short program.

“They skate like seniors,” Slipchuk said of the young trip. “There’ll be ups and downs, but we’re looking forward to a bright future for all three.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Dwayne Buckle, 40 of Red Deer finished a 1,638-kilometre walk, in honour of his family. The 12-week, 82 day-journey wrapped up in Port Hardy, B.C. on Monday. Facebook photo
Red Deer man completes 1,638 km hike for cancer research

Dwayne Buckle, a Red Deer firefighter returned home Friday after his 12-week journey

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine deliveres to Canada are being delayed because of complications at their European distribution facility. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Delays of Pfizer vaccine delivery to impact Alberta’s vaccination plans

Alberta has administered 74,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine so far

Two inmates at Bowden Institution have tested positive for COVID-19. (Black Press File Photo)
2 Bowden inmates test positive for COVID-19

A pair of inmates at Bowden Institution have tested positive for COVID-19.… Continue reading

Salons and barbershops are able to open on Monday, the Government of Alberta announced this week. (Photo courtesy Pixabay)
Red Deer salon owner “relieved” business can re-open next week

The owner of a Red Deer salon says she’s “definitely relieved” her… Continue reading

Red Deer Valhalla Pure Outfitters owner Darren Schaedeli has seen a significant increase in those looking to tackle winter experiences. Some are trying their hand at "hot tent camping" as he did in the West Country several weeks ago.
Photo contributed
Central Albertans enjoying the great outdoors this winter

Stir crazy and beach-deprived central Albertans are embracing the great outdoors this… Continue reading

Lesser Slave Lake UCP MLA Pat Rehn. (Facebook)
Updated: Jason Kenney kicks Lesser Slave Lake MLA out of caucus

Pat Rehn will not be permitted to run for UCP nominations

Manchester United's Tobin Heath celebrates scoring against West Ham United during the FA Women's Super League match at Victoria Road Stadium, London, Sunday Oct. 18, 2020. (John Walton/PA via AP)
Double 1st: Man U men, women leading 2 leagues, play champs

Double 1st: Man U men, women leading 2 leagues, play champs

A group of Buffalo Bills fans from Toronto pose for a photo while tailgating in the parking lot of New Era Field before an NFL football game between the Bills and the New York Jets, Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018, in Orchard Park, N.Y. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Adrian Kraus
Being unable to attend Bills playoff games due to pandemic pains Canadian fans

Being unable to attend Bills playoff games due to pandemic pains Canadian fans

FILE - Chicago Cubs' Kris Bryant runs the bases after hitting a solo home run in the sixth inning during a baseball game against the Cleveland Indians in Cleveland, in this Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2020, file photo. Bryant is among roughly 125 players who entered Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, eligible to exchange salary arbitration figures with their teams. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak, File)
Lindor, Bryant, Bellinger, Seager get big-money deals

Lindor, Bryant, Bellinger, Seager get big-money deals

Brooklyn Nets coach Steve Nash points during the third quarter of the team's NBA basketball game against the New York Knicks on Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021, in New York. (Brad Penner/Pool Photo via AP)
More NBA games off, as league continues struggles with virus

More NBA games off, as league continues struggles with virus

Washington Capitals' Jakub Vrana (13) is congratulated for his goal during the second period of the team's NHL hockey game against the Buffalo Sabres, Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, in Buffalo, N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)
Vanecek makes 28 saves in NHL debut, Capitals sweep Sabres

Vanecek makes 28 saves in NHL debut, Capitals sweep Sabres

Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Collin Delia (60) makes a save after Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Ondrej Palat (18) fell down during the first period of an NHL hockey game Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Stamkos, Palat lift Lightning over Blackhawks again

Stamkos, Palat lift Lightning over Blackhawks again

Canadian women's soccer team member Rhian Wilkinson is seen during a training session in Vancouver, B.C. Wednesday, April 21, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Former Canadian international Rhian Wilkinson leaves Canada Soccer coaching job

Former Canadian international Rhian Wilkinson leaves Canada Soccer coaching job

Tkachuk, Senators down Maple Leafs 5-3 in 1st game in 10 months

Tkachuk, Senators down Maple Leafs 5-3 in 1st game in 10 months

Most Read