Taking it all in strideNewcomers Langlois & Archetto following footsteps of Olympic champs Sale & Pelletier
By TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun
Happy new year!
In the case of Jamie Sale and David Pelletier three years ago, that was not a wish, it was a prediction. And the same thing goes with Anabelle Langlois and Patrice Archetto this year. Except it's not Langlois & Archetto making the prediction, it's Sale making it for them.
If you remember, Sale & Pelletier welcomed 2001 in as the headliners at Sherwood Park's New Year's Eve festival.
Fast forward three years. If it was good enough for Sale & Pelletier, it's good enough for Langlois & Archetto. It was the same scene at the same event for the new two on the Canadian skating scene last night.
Langlois & Archetto were encouraged by the Olympic gold medal winners to appear at the same New Year's Eve gala in Sherwood Park to launch what they hope will be their breakthrough year in the sport.
"They have the goods now," said Sale before they took the ice.
"They're a polished package.
"Personally, I believe they got cheated a bit at the Grand Prix final. But I believe they can go to Worlds and walk out of there with a medal," she said of this year's event in Dortmund, Germany.
"It depends on those ... well, you know. I don't have to say anything," she said of the dirty judges who have so soiled and spoiled the sport.
"These two show us improvement every time we come home and see them," said Sale, who along with Pelletier always work with them when they come home.
'I HAVE FAITH IN THEM'
"I have faith in them. They have good heads on their shoulders," said Sale, home for the holidays and a break in her pro show schedule.
Sale & Pelletier, when they played the Sherwood Park event to ring in 2001, were coming off finishing fourth at Worlds the year before in Nice, France. As a rule, a fourth-in-the-world pair isn't going to play a rink that seats just over a thousand.
Langlois & Archetto finished fifth at Worlds last year in Washington, D.C., and fourth at the Grand Prix finals in Colorado Springs in mid-December. But they couldn't think of a better way to bring in the new year for their key year either.
Langlois & Archetto came to Edmonton to follow in Sale & Pelletier's footsteps with coach Jan Ullmark at the Royal Glenora. And if it means skating a few small shows like this in Newfoundland and then doing the New Year's Eve thing in Sherwood Park, they're going to trace the same skate marks. The two took the same trip to Newfoundland as Sale & Pelletier earlier this season, which had as much to do with taking themselves to the country as the token appearance fees involved.
Sale says she believes the two Quebec skaters have what it takes to make this their breakthrough year, just like they did three years ago.
She's not predicting that Langlois & Archetto can win the world championships like she and Pelletier did that year, to set up their Olympic gold the following spring at the Salt Lake City Olympics. But she is predicting podium, which is what Canada wants to keep alive -- a 22-year streak of placing skaters in the medals at Worlds.
Langlois hasn't had any judge from France fix an Olympic gold-medal-winning skate against her yet.
"If we skate well, I think all the doors are open for us," she said.
"This could be the year for us to make it to the podium. We're getting better and better. We've put another triple in our program for Canadians, which brings our technical level up. It's only our third international year and I think we're a lot stronger than we were last year, especially mentally."
For Langlois & Archetto last night's event felt so nice, they did it twice. Their appearance was so popular, they were held over to play a second show.
It's the feel they're hoping to experience on a large scale at Rexall Place at the Canadian Figure Skating Championships next week.
While a lot of people are suddenly projecting them to the podium at Worlds, they have a bit of business to do first.
They may have been fifth at Worlds and fourth at the Grand Prix, but they are not and never have been Canadian champions.
The two made a major mess of it at Canadians in Saskatoon last year. And they intend to get it right next week.
"This year we've shown we've learned a lot from experience," said Archetto.
"We intend to go out there and prove to people we won't make the same mistakes and that we've fixed any of our problems.
"And we can't wait to skate for the fans at a Canadians in Edmonton.
"We've met so many people since we moved here. This city has been so good about welcoming us and making us feel like we're part of everything here. People have really started to notice us since we came here and we can't wait to see how people react to us."
They had a taste test last night.
"It's going to be great," said Langlois.