Now, that's dancing

ROB BRODIE -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 11:20 AM ET

LONDON, ONT. -- Joshua McGrath looked down at that familiar yellow and red symbol on his blue fleece pullover. And he couldn't have smiled more widely. "Yeah, I feel like Superman," said the 19-year-old from Greely.

Consider the ghost of Edmonton officially buried.

Finally, McGrath and his effervescent partner, Siobhan Karam, are Canadian junior ice dance champions.

"We're just so excited right now," said Karam, 18, of Ottawa, after they outskated Allie Hann-McCurdy and Michael Coreno of the Gloucester Skating Club to claim their first national title yesterday at the John Labatt Centre. "We're kind of speechless. We still are a bit."

Said McGrath: "Excitement, just thrilled, relieved I guess. It's a whole bunch of emotions that hits you all at once ... It's hard to put it into words right now."

They are expected to be named tomorrow to Canada's team for the world junior championships Feb. 28-March 6 in Kitchener.

Karam and McGrath came into these Canadian figure skating championships favoured to strike gold after two straight bronze-medal finishes. The second one -- last year in Edmonton -- stung the most. A fall in the final 45 seconds of their free dance likely cost them a national crown.

"We couldn't talk, we were so upset," Karam said of that day a year ago at Rexall Place. "We had to wait a whole year to do it. We're just so happy we could finally perform well after last year.

"We had the same pressure (this year). But we've been through all the bad stuff. We couldn't be through any worse. All we could do was go up from there."

The Minto Skating Club duo, who train in the Detroit area with coaches Marina Zoueva and Igor Shpilband, had to wait yesterday while Hann-McCurdy and Coreno skated. The Gloucester pair posted a score of 72.59 and finished with an overall total of 152.64 points.

Then it was Karam and McGrath's turn. Feeding off the support of friends and family in the audience, they turned in a mesmerizing skate, with not so much as a stumble along the way.

Up went the final marks: 75.85 for the Mexican-themed free dance, and a 160.56 total. The gold was theirs.

The timing of yesterday's triumph couldn't be better -- Karam isn't age eligible for junior next year.

"We're so happy that, just in time, we did what we wanted in junior," she said. "It took a couple of tries, but we finally got here."

Maybe Hann-McCurdy and Coreno can follow the same path. Seventh a year ago in Edmonton, they shot up to the silver-medal position this time around, and qualified for the Junior Grand Prix final along the way.

"This year's been a great year for us," said Coreno, 20, of Delhi. "We've gone to some pretty incredible places ... I'm happy."

Is there a Canadian junior title in their future next year in Ottawa? They're age-eligible to give it a shot, though they haven't decided yet.

"We'll sit down, think about everything and weigh our options," said Hann-McCurdy, 17, of Orleans.

"That would be amazing. We'd love to fight for that."

rob.brodie@ott.sunpub.com 


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