Deanna Stellato-Dudek and Maxime Deschamps, of Canada, perform their pairs free program during the Skate Canada International figure skating competition, in Vancouver, on Saturday, October 28, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl DyckTHE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Canadian pairs and ice dance team win gold at Skate Canada International

Deanna Stellato-Dudek and Maxime Deschamps performed a commanding free skate to secure the gold medal in the pairs competition at Skate Canada International in Vancouver. Competing in their first event this season, Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier delivered a flawless free dance to bring home ice dance gold for the fourth year in a row.

Stellato-Dudek and Deschamps scored a personal best of 142.34 in their free skate to the theme from “Interview with a Vampire” to win gold. This is their second gold medal from the ISU Grand Prix Series, but their first at Skate Canada.

Their total score of 214.64 secured gold by 26.86 points over the Hungarian team of Maria Pavlova and Alexei Sviatchenko who took silver (187.78). The Italian team of Lucrezia Beccari and Matteo Guarise captured bronze (181.42).

The Canadian pair were hungry for the podium after finishing fourth in their worlds debut last year. 

“I’m very happy with today’s performance which is a rarity for me,” laughed Stellato-Dudek following their performance. “It’s still early in the season, but we’ve been waiting for a performance like this for years. We were sick of it last year and never skating even close to a clean long program, so we worked really hard to be able to put this out today.”

Kelly Ann Laurin and Loucas Éthier improved on their short program performance where they were sitting in seventh, to finish the competition in fifth position overall and a total score of 168.12. Brooke McIntosh and Benjamin Mimar finished sixth overall with a total score of 166.00.

On Friday, Stellato-Dudek and Deschamps finished first in the short program after posting a score of 72.25. It was the first time the pair have competed in five weeks. They opened their season with a big victory at the Autumn Classic in mid-September as they defeated the reigning world champions, Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara of Japan, rather handily at the ISU Challenger Series event. 

Gilles and Poirier performed a moving free dance to music from “Wuthering Heights” to win their first gold of the season with an overall score of 219.01. Great Britain’s Lilah Fear and Lewis Gibson and Lithuania’s Saulius Ambrulevicius and Allison Reed retained their positions from the rhythm dance to capture silver (209.55) and bronze (192.01) respectively.

“This has been such a successful competition for us,” said Poirier. “We’ve been able to debut both of our new programs which has been really exciting just to put them out there in the world. We’re proud of how we skated and contained our nerves, and we’re both really looking forward to improving on both of these skates as we go through the season.”

To date, the Canadians have medalled seven times at Skate Canada International.

Alicia Fabbri and Paul Ayer finished seventh with a score of 173.34, while Molly Lanaghan and Dmitre Razgulajevs placed ninth.

On Friday, the Canadians recorded the best rhythm dance score so far this season, posting 87.55 points. The rhythm program was Piper’s first time competing since sharing her ovarian cancer diagnosis. 

“I don’t think there was ever a thought of me not continuing,” said Gilles. “If anything, it pushed me more to do it. Skating has become a part of my life and become a great distraction from all the health issues I’ve gone through.”

Gilles said that last year’s Skate Canada International was the event where she started feeling ill, which added to the desire to return and compete this weekend.

In the women’s competition, 2023 Canadian Champion Madeline Schizas bounced back from her short program on Friday with a flawless free skate. Her performance earned her the second-highest score of the day, which saw her move from eighth to fourth overall with a total score of 189.91. Her free skate score of 132.47 is a new personal best and season’s best score.

“I’m feeling really good. I was very disappointed after my short yesterday, but I was able to pull it together in the free to put up a really big score which is what I was really looking for. I know I can skate a good short, but sometimes the free gets away from me so I was really happy,” said Schizas.

Kaiya Ruiter and Sara-Maude Dupuis, who are both making their senior grand prix debuts, finished 10th (155.44) and 11th (151.95) overall.

The men’s competition closed out the event on Saturday night. Wesley Chiu led the Canadian men’s efforts with a total score of 221.54 for seventh position. 2023 Canadian Championships silver medallist Conrad Orzel finished 10th after posting 213.12 overall and Aleksa Rakic finished 12th with a total score of 189.38.

Skate Canada International is the second competition in the annual International Skating Union Grand Prix of Figure Skating Series. Next up, Canadian skaters will travel to Angers for the Grand Prix de France taking place from November 3 – 5, 2023.