Coming out of the national championships this weekend in Ottawa, we now know which Canadian figure skaters will compete at the ISU World Championships, where the size of the next Olympic team will be decided.
But before they fly to Helsinki at the end of March, most of those skaters will also be among the first to compete at the Gangneung Ice Arena, the figure skating venue for PyeongChang 2018, which will host the ISU Four Continents Championship as its Olympic test event in mid-February.
With his record-tying ninth men’s national title in hand, Patrick Chan will be joined at the worlds by quad master Kevin Reynolds. Chan successfully landed his quad Salchow for just the second time ever during Saturday night’s free skate, one of his better performances this season that also included a quad toe loop and two beautiful triple Axels. With two quads planned in his short program and four in his free skate, Reynolds is keeping pace with the go-for-broke programs many men are now attempting. Nam Nguyen will also compete at the Four Continents but will have to settle for watching the world championships from home after Canada qualified just two men’s spots last year in Boston.
Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford claimed a record sixth national title in the pairs event and can now turn their attention towards winning a third straight world title. They’ll be joined in Finland and Korea by runners-up Lubov Ilyushechkina and Dylan Moscovitch. Canada’s third world championship berth was awarded to Julianne Seguin and Charlie Bilodeau, who were forced to withdraw from the nationals as Seguin recovers from a concussion she suffered in late December. But based on their success this season, which included a Grand Prix gold medal at Skate America, they were given the nod ahead of national bronze medallists Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro, who will get to compete at the Olympic test event.
Canada will send its stellar trio of ice dance couples to both the worlds and Four Continents. After a two-year absence, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir were victorious once again, winning their seventh national title with two awe-inspiring performances. Attempting to reinvent themselves this season with a new coach and training location, Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje looked very impressive in finishing second ahead of Piper Gilles (who had been battling a stomach virus) and Paul Poirier, who help make Canada a true powerhouse in the discipline.
Kaetlyn Osmond reclaimed the women’s national title, taking top spot for the third time after missing one year with a broken leg and then spending another familiarizing herself with competition again. Having established herself as an international podium contender this season, she and Gabrielle Daleman will need to be at their best with their huge triple-triple combinations in Helsinki to earn Canada three Olympic berths. That would be welcome news for Alaine Chartrand, who will only get to compete at the Four Continents after fighting through a sprained ankle to bronze.
Olympic qualification in figure skating will be based almost entirely on results at the upcoming world championships. In each discipline, the final placement for Canada’s top two skaters are added together. If they total 13 or less (whether that’s 1st and 12th or 6th and 7th or any other combination), Canada will qualify three spots in that event for PyeongChang. Any total from 14 to 28 will result in only two Olympic spots being earned.