Karam, McGrath near victory dance

ROB BRODIE -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 8:24 AM ET

LONDON, Ont. -- Now comes the hard part for Siobhan Karam and Joshua McGrath.

For the second straight year, the Minto Skating Club duo holds the lead heading into the junior free dance final at the Canadian figure skating championships.

This time, they want to finish the job.

"It's our best dance. It's the one we feel the most comfortable with," said Karam of their Spanish-themed free dance, which they hope is their ticket to gold tomorrow.

A year ago in Edmonton, Karam and McGrath were less than a minute away from probable gold when a fall knocked them back to the bronze-medal position for the second straight year. That's nothing but a memory now.

"I'll sleep well (tonight)," Karam, 18, of Ottawa said with a smile. "We got that out of our head a long time ago. It would have been too hard to start this season if we hadn't."

HIGHEST SCORE

The Minto duo posted the highest score in yesterday's original dance (50.58) despite a fall by McGrath on a footwork sequence in the final 15 seconds.

"Just a fluke," said McGrath, 19, of Greely.

Their overall total (84.71) is 4.66 points better than fast-rising Allie Hann-McCurdy and Michael Coreno of the Gloucester Skating Club. The Barrie-based team was seventh in Edmonton last year, but turned a strong fall season into an appearance at the Junior Grand Prix final.

Now they're challenging for a Canadian title.

"It's still a surprise," said Orleans' Hann-Curdy, 17, of their opportunity. "We've worked really hard this year ... whatever happens here as a result of it will be amazing."

In the junior women's event, Mandy Valentine of the Nepean Skating Club is in the medal hunt after placing third in yesterday's short program. She totalled 38.53 points, putting her 4.90 behind leader Tanika Gibbons of Surrey, B.C.

An ailing Kim Caissy of Gatineau struggled with her short program and wound up 18th.


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