Top dance team heads for exit

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 7:23 AM ET

LONDON, Ont. -- Canada's top dance team announced their retirement here yesterday, effective March 2006 in Calgary.

"Getting close to the podium this year would be nice. In 2006 it would be nice to retire in Calgary with a medal," said Marie-France Dubreuil of the post-Olympic World Figure Skating Championships in the Cowtown.

"We're planning on Calgary being our last competition," said partner Patrice Lauzon.

Off last year's eighth-place finish at Worlds, they're five retirements away from the podium. Last year's bronze-medal winners from Germany retired. That's one. A couple more from the Olympics and the new judging system might get them there in the competition where teams take their turns climbing the ladder.

"I think now it's possible to move up," said Dubreuil, indicating finishing fifth in the Grand Prix Final this year could be considered an indication of that. "I don't think the new judging system is perfect but it's a lot better than it used to be," said Lauzon of the team which scored 217.54 here to win their third Canadian championship after years of being understudies to Shae-Lynn Bourne and Victor Kraatz.

They've finished 10th three times at Worlds, eighth once and 11th once.

The Vancouver team of Megan Wing & Aaron Lowe finished with a total of 194.59 points to claim the second spot on Canada's team for the March Worlds in Moscow.

Joannie Rochette, Cynthia Phaneuf, Jeffery Buttle, Emanuel Sandhu and the pairs teams of Valerie Marcoux & Craig Buntin and Utako Wakamatsu & Jean Sebastien Fecteau are the other Canadians taking the trip. Skate Canada CEO Pam Coburn announced several other assignments as Canadians concluded before a sellout crowd of 7,222. They did not announce the Four Continents team for Korea due to the fact there will be 17 hours of time differences between Korea and Russia in a 17-day span.

Coburn said Skate Canada will not force any member of the world team to do the double dip and will largely leave it optional.

She did, however, announce the Canadian team for the Junior Worlds scheduled for Feb. 28-March 6 in Kitchener, Ont.

They include senior bronze medallist, 15-year-old Mira Leung of Vancouver and fourth-place-finishing Amanda Billings of Calgary.

In pairs, 17-year-old Jessica Dube and 18-year-old partner Bryce Davison, and 17-year-old Michelle Cronin and 19-year-old Brian Shales are making the short trips from Cambridge and Mississauga, respectively.

Louis Stong and Dr. Charles Snelling were inducted to the Canadian Figure Skating Hall of Fame prior to the medal presentations.


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