Team Canada secures Olympic figure skating entries for Beijing 2022
Team Canada earned Olympic spots in all four figure skating disciplines for Beijing 2022 during the recent ISU World Championships in Stockholm, which served as the primary qualification event.
Although the majority of the Canadian figure skaters had not participated in a live competition for over a year, they showed their determination and delivered some spectacular performances.
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Here is a breakdown of what you might have missed and what’s ahead:
Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier had the highlight moment of the week for Team Canada, winning bronze for their first ever podium appearance at the world championships.
They got off to a great start with a very clean performance of their always entertaining rhythm dance to “Mack and Mabel”, which earned them fourth place and set them up well for the free dance which has long been their strength.
They certainly seized the moment, delivering a spectacular free dance full of emotion and intricate choreography to fellow Canadian Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now”. They earned a personal best in the free dance, placing second in that portion of the competition, to rise to third place overall with another personal best for total score.
The performances that led to the podium solidified their status as one of the best ice dance teams in the world heading into the Olympic season.
After having not competed internationally since November 2019, Laurence Fournier Beaudry and Nikolaj Sørensen made a grand return. The duo skated a strong and powerful rhythm dance inspired by the musical “Bonnie and Clyde”, landing them in seventh place. Their innovative and athletic free dance was a stand out among the field, earning them a very respectable eighth place finish overall, which is their first time among the top 10 in the world.
Making their senior world championship debut, Marjorie Lajoie and Zachary Lagha skated a very energetic rhythm dance to sit 14th at the midway mark in a very deep field. Bringing even more pizzazz and showmanship to the free dance with their “Rio” program, they held on to 14th place, proving that the next generation of Canadian ice dancers will uphold the long tradition of excellence.
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With the results from Canada’s top two teams totaling 11 points and all three duos advancing to the free dance, Canada has qualified three ice dance teams for Beijing 2022.
After a shaky start, which landed them in 10th place after the short program, Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro came back with a strong and confident free program. They showed off their emotional side to the music of “Blower’s Daughter” by Damian Rice and placed fifth in the free to move up sixth overall, matching their career best at the world championships.
Evelyn Walsh and Trennt Michaud had a solid event, placing 12th in both the short and free programs, matching their world championship result in 2019. They debuted a brand new free program, which was well-received by the judges, earning them a personal best score.
The combined placements by Canada’s pairs ensures the country will also be able to send two pairs to Beijing 2022.
Keegan Messing, the lone Canadian entry in the men’s event, had the weight of the nation on his shoulders. His first mission was to qualify for the free program to ensure that Canada would have an entry in the men’s event at Beijing 2022. He accomplished that and more, delivering a clean and emotional tribute to his wife with the help of Ed Sheeran’s “Perfect” for his short program, which landed him in fifth place, easily qualifying for the free program in which he would be in the final flight.
Under immense pressure, Messing delivered a thrilling free program with two quadruple jumps and two triple axels. Usually a crowd favourite, Messing (like all competitors) had to perform his free program to “November Rain” by Guns N’ Roses in an arena without an audience, but rose to the occasion. He earned a personal best total score and wound up in sixth place overall in a very deep field.
By being in the top 10, Messing made Canada eligible to send two men to Beijing 2022, but only one of those spots is locked in at the moment. The second spot will need to be confirmed during the final Olympic qualification event in September. More on that below.
Newcomer Madeline Schizas had a breakthrough showing in the short program, upsetting some top international skaters when she ended up in ninth following her exceptionally clean performance. In the free skate, some jumping errors knocked her down to 13th overall, a very respectable world championship debut after the most unconventional of seasons. With a bright future ahead, the experience gained should serve her well.
Reigning national champion Emily Bausback earned a personal best score in the short program, but with a few minor errors, she came up a couple points shy of qualifying for the free program.
Based on those results, Canada will have one entry in the women’s event for Beijing 2022.
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As noted above, Canada will have to wait until the fall to confirm its final number of Olympic quota spots.
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The Nebelhorn Trophy in Oberstdorf, Germany, which will take place September 22-25, will be the final Olympic qualifying event — for countries that either did not earn any quota spots in a particular event or had the placements to earn two or three spots but did not have that same number of skaters compete in the free program at the worlds.
Canada can send one man — who is not Messing — with the goal of earning the second entry in the men’s event that Messing’s sixth-place finish at the worlds made Canada eligible to have. With 23 of the 30 men’s Olympic spots allocated via the world championships, the Canadian man will have to be among the top seven at Nebelhorn who are there to vie for Olympic qualification. The United States, Russia, France and South Korea will also be looking to confirm additional spots in the men’s event.
Team Canada’s figure skating squad for Beijing 2022 will be selected following the Canadian Tire National Skating Championships in Ottawa, taking place January 6-13, 2022. Before that, they’ll be looking forward to a fall and winter season with hopefully more competitive opportunities in order to gain more experience and build momentum.
Results from ISU Grand Prix events this fall will count towards determining the 10 countries that will qualify for the Olympic team event. Of course, we all remember that Team Canada won that team gold medal at PyeongChang 2018.