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Canadians shine on ice at Grand Prix

Canadians shine on ice at Grand Prix
Ben Stevenson

By Ben Stevenson

A new star was born on the ice this weekend at the Skate Canada International while Olympic and world champions reconfirmed their dominance, putting Canadian skaters in fine position as the 2012-13 season kicks into gear.

Sixteen-year-old Kaetlyn Osmond raised her routine to new heights and won gold in Windsor, ON while Scott Moir and Tessa Virtue did the same in their first appearance of the season.

Osmond, a native of Newfoundland topped the podium with a personal  best score of 176.45 in her first Grand Prix event of her career, beating Japan’s Akiko Suzuki (175.16) and Kanako Murakami (168.04) respectively.

A newcomer to the senior circuit, Osmond is on a nice trajectory, having won her first career title just last month at the 2012 Nebelhorn Trophy in Germany.

“My components have improved so much since my last competition,” said the gold medallist.

“It’s exciting. It’s definitely been a wonderful experience being in my home country and having everyone here cheer me on.”

The first Figure Skating Grand Prix of the season was good for  Canadian skaters, who earned at least one medal in each category.

The Olympic and World Champions in ice dancing, Scott Moir and Tessa Virtue put on a show and captured gold in their first appearance of the season after recovering from a recent neck injury to Moir.

“It was our first time performing that dance in its entirety and it was an exciting time for us,” said Moir after the medal ceremony.

“We got to perform a very good free dance with a lot of energy. There were a couple mistakes, but we’re still happy. It was a good competition and we’re looking to build from it.”

Moir and Virtue overcame some late lift difficulties in their short program to enter the final day of competition .01 points ahead of Italians Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte. The long program went a lot smoother for the four-time national champions who finished with an overall score of 169.41. Cappellini and Lanotte would finish in second place (160.06) and Russians Ekaterina Riazanova and Ilia Tkachenko won bronze with 143.39.

Patrick Chan entered the weekend as the two-time reigning world champion and the defending Skate Canada International champion. In 2011, the Torontonian finished in first place with Spain’s Javier Fernandez finishing in second place.

This year the roles were reversed with Fernandez capturing gold with a two day performance that saw him earn 253.94 point and Chan finishing behind him with 243.43. Nobunari Oda of Japan won the bronze with a score of 238.34.

This season is about changes for Chan who has a whole new team of coaches, choreographers and a new program to match.

“I learned a lot from this competition whether I had a gold medal or a silver medal. It didn’t really matter,” said Chan post-competition.

“I really checked off my list the things I’ve been worrying about with the program and about the jumps and patterns. I was able to put it behind so that the season can be about having fun and performing.”

Reigning Canadian national champions, Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford skated to silver in the pair event after an overall score of 190.49.

The two residents of Montreal entered the long program in second placed and finished behind four-time World Champions Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy of Germany (201.36), but held off a surge from the Italian duo of Stefania Berton and Ondrej Hotarek (172.03) to seal silver.

The Canadian duo arrived just on time to WFCU Centre in Windsor to see Osmond get crowned as champion and felt inspired by her performance and gave credit to the young Canadian for pushing them harder.

“We felt really inspired,” said Duhamel. “We watched the medal ceremony, and we were so proud of her and proud of Canadian skating so I think that gave us a little boost.”

Canadians will now shift a lot of their focus toward the 2013 Canadian Figure Skating Championships in Mississauga, Ont., from January 13-20, 2013 at the Hershey Centre.

Information and tickets can be purchased via Skate Canada at skatecanada.ca.

- George Fadel

Ben Stevenson

By Ben Stevenson

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