AP Photo/Ted S. Warren
AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

2018-19 Winter Preview: Skating

Winter is coming! The winter sport season is starting, so let’s take a look at some of the Canadian athletes that will be competing this season.

In this first installment, we glide onto the ice to take a look at who will be on the ice for figure skating along with both long and short track.

Figure Skating

Canada’s Keegan Messing salutes the crowd following his performance in the men’s figure skating free program at the Pyeonchang Winter Olympics Saturday, February 17, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. Messing said he’ll miss seeing Patrick Chan on the competitive ice, as he would study the three-time world champion in hopes to improve his skating. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

Who to Watch

The six-stop ISU Grand Prix season is underway this weekend with Skate America, followed by Skate Canada International hosted in Laval, Quebec next weekend.

Earlier this year, Olympic Champion Patrick Chan announced his retirement from competition, paving the way for Nam Nguyen and Keegan Messing. Last month Nguyen won the gold at the U.S. International Figure Skating Classic. Also in September, Messing had his first international victory at the Nebelhorn Trophy, beating out Sweden’s Alexander Majorov and Russian Artur Dmitriev.

On the women’s side, world champion Kaetlyn Osmond is taking the 2018-19 season off from competition. Last season, Osmond became the first Canadian woman to win the world championship title in 45 years.

In her absence, Alaine Chartrand has two assignment under her belt, starting with Skate Canada International next weekend. The 2016 national champion represented Canada at two Grand Prix events last season. Her best international finish was in 2016, at the Autumn Classic International, where she placed second on the podium behind Mira Nagasu.

Alaine Chartrand, of Prescott, Ont., performs her short program during the senior women’s competition at the Canadian Figure Skating Championships in Vancouver, B.C., on Friday January 12, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Gabrielle Daleman was also scheduled to compete next weekend, but withdrew last week to focus on her mental health. Daleman will be competing for the NHK Trophy in November.

Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro, of Canada, perform in the pairs free skate figure skating final in the Gangneung Ice Arena at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Thursday, Feb. 15, 2018. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

In pairs, Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford announced their retirement in April. Skating viewers should keep their eyes on the pair of Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro. The duo have competed in two ISU Challenger Series events so far this year, at the Autumn Classic International and the Finlandia Trophy, finishing second in both.

Over in ice dancing, Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje are skipping the Grand Prix season to join Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir on the Thank You Canada Tour. Canada has three pairs in competition, the most prominent being Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier. They were at the top of the podium recently at the Nebelhorn Trophy.

The pair has two Grand Prix assignments, Skate Canada International next weekend, followed by Internationaux de France in November.

Canada’s Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier perform in the ice dance figure skating free program at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics Tuesday, February 20, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

What to Watch

Skate Canada International – October 26-28, 2018 – Laval, Quebec

  • The second of six stops on the ISU Grand Prix series features three Canadian entries in each discipline

ISU Grand Prix Final – December 6-9, 2018 – Vancouver, British Columbia

  • After skaters compete in a maximum of two Grand Prix events, the top six in each discipline based on combined results qualify for the Final

Canadian Championships – January 14-20, 2019 – Saint John, New Brunswick

  • The results help decide which skaters will compete at the Four Continents and World Championships

Four Continents Championships – February 7-10, 2019 – Anaheim, California

  • Open to skaters from all countries outside of Europe

World Figure Skating Championships – March 18-24, 2019 – Saitama, Japan

  • Based on the results of the 2018 World Championships, Canada has three spots for the ice dancing and ladies competition, while the men and pairs will have two spots

Long Track Speed Skating

Ivanie Blondin of Canada, left, competes against Nathalia Voronina of Russia during the women’s 3,000 meters race at the finals of the World Cup speedskating at the Minsk-Arena Speed Skating Stadium, in Minsk, Belarus, Saturday, March 17, 2018. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

Who to Watch

The Canadian championships start this weekend (October 20-23) so the World Cup team will be known after that.

Olympic Champion Ted-Jan Bloemen will look to continue his success this season, after winning the 10000m gold and 5000m silver in Pyeonchang 2018. Bloemen also was crowned World Cup champion for the 5,000/10,000-metre classification following the Olympic Games.

Canada’s Ted-Jan Bloemen celebrates his gold medal victory in the 10,000-metre speed skating event at the Pyeonchang Winter Olympics Thursday, February 15, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. Bloemen joins the list of multi-medalists at this year’s Winter Games. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

Valerie Maltais joins the long-track side, who is turning a new corner in her career, moving from short-track speedskating to long-track. The speedskater announced the change in the summer.

Canada’s Valerie Maltais, of Saguenay, Que., competes in the women’s 1500-metre short-track speedskating heats at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games, in Gangneung, South Korea, Saturday, February 17, 2018. Decorated short-track speedskater Maltais is switching gears to long-track version of her sport. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

Notable names also in competition this weekend are Ivanie BlondinIsabelle Weidemann, Keri Morrison, and Jordan Belchos.

What to Watch

Canadian Single Distances Championships – October 20-23 – Calgary, Alberta

World Single Distances Championships – February 7-10, 2019 – Inzell, Germany

  • The world championship that mirrors the Olympic program

World Sprint Championships – February 23-24, 2019 – Heerenveen, Netherlands

  • The world championship that rewards consistency across the 500m and 1000m

World Allround Championships – March 2-3, 2019 – Calgary, Alberta

  • The world championship that rewards consistency across all distances

Short Track Speed Skating

Team Canada Kim Boutin PyeongChang 2018

Kim Boutin in action during the Short Track Speed Skating Women’s 1500m of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Gangneung Ice Arena on February 17, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea (Photo by Vincent Ethier/COC)

A total of 28 skaters will be representing Canada on the competition circuit. They will aim to exceed last year’s successful international campaign, where Canada won five Olympic medals, seven World Championship medals and 21 World Cup medals.

Leading the men are Olympic medalists Samuel Girard, Charles Hamelin, Charle Cournoyer and Pascal Dion. The group won bronze in PyeongChang in the men’s team relay.

The Canadian team of Samuel Girard, left to right, Charle Cournoyer, Charles Hamelin and Pascal Dion celebrate as they capture bronze in the men’s 5,000-metre relay final celebrates the 2018 Olympic Winter Games, in Gangneung, South Korea on Thursday, February 22, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

On the women’s side, Olympic medallist Kim Boutin and Jamie MacDonald lead the way.

The first two World Cups of the season will feature five female skaters making their ISU World Cup debut on home soil in Calgary. They are Alyson Charles, Camille De Serres-Rainville, Alison Desmarais, Claudia Gagnon and Courtney Sarault.

Last year, Sarault was named Speed Skating Canada’s Short Track Rising Star of the Year. She won three medals at the 2018 World Junior Championships, and will look to continue her success at the senior level.

What to Watch

ISU World Cup – November 2-4, 2018 – Calgary, Alberta

  • The first of six stops on the World Cup circuit

Canadian Winter Invitational – January 11-13, 2019 – Montreal, Quebec

  • Bringing together the best Canadian short track skaters and competitors from other countries, in a strategic effort to increase international competition for the athletes

World Short Track Speed Skating Championships – March 8-10, 2019 – Sofia, Bulgaria