Ottawa dancers finish up 7th

ROB BRODIE -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 12:01 PM ET

KITCHENER -- Siobhan Karam and Joshua McGrath savoured one final embrace in the season of their young lives. And soaked in a near-standing ovation at Kitchener Memorial Auditorium.

A clean free dance at their first and only world junior figure skating championships, a seventh-place finish wearing Canadian colours at home for the first time ... it couldn't have wound up any better for the young duo from the Minto Skating Club.

'GREAT WAY' TO END

"A great way to end the season," said McGrath, 19, of Ottawa.

What a season it was. Along the way came their first national crown, well-earned in the junior dance event at the Canadian championships in January in London, Ont.

Now this.

"It's over. We did it," Karam, 18, of Ottawa, said to her partner as the final notes of their Spanish-themed program played out.

"It's the hardest we could have possibly worked," she said afterward. "We trained the hardest anyone could have trained in any sport."

Karam and McGrath knew before they stepped on the ice last night that they were moving up one spot to seventh. That's because Italians Anna Cappellini and Matteo Zanni were forced to withdraw because of illness.

But this week wasn't just about placement. It was about moments like last night, when Karam and McGrath were greeted during the warmup by the kind of ovation usually reserved for champions.

"I was shocked," said Karam, who flashed a 100-watt smile every second she was on the ice.

It got louder by the time they were done.

"I loved it ... it was wonderful," said McGrath. "I've never heard that much applause for myself."

The boisterous crowd of 1,500 pumped it up even more for Londoners Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, hoping to help will them to Canada's first gold medal in 27 years at this competition.

But it wasn't to be. A slight stumble out of a twizzle probably cost them victory in the free dance -- they were outscored 88.73-88.18 by Americans Morgan Matthews and Maxim Zavozin. In the overall picture, though, it likely didn't make a difference and their medals were silver.

The Americans finished with a three-program total of 187.51, which was 4.09 better than Virtue and Moir.

The Canadians posted personal-best scores in all three segments, but couldn't make up any ground after the compulsories.

Karam and McGrath's final total (153.45) included 73.22 points in the free dance -- their final one as juniors.

Meanwhile, in the men's short program, Ottawa-born Patrick Chan -- who shone during Wednesday's men's qualifying -- had a tougher day yesterday, finishing 11th. Canada's other entry, Christopher Mabee of Tillsonburg, is ninth (54.78) after barely surviving qualifying.

France's Yannick Ponsero (64.90), who plans a quad in today's free skate final, holds the lead by less than a point over Nobunari Oda of Japan (64.33).

rob.brodie@ott.sunpub.com


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