Ice princess

ROB BRODIE -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 12:33 PM ET

Vienna ... That one, she thought, made a whole lot of sense. But MasterCard Skate Canada?

"Absolutely, it was a surprise," Hull's Anabelle Langlois said about the huge opportunity she and Cody Hay received early into their first season together as a pairs team.

"We're not proven yet ... it was surprising and very much appreciated."

Yet, there they'll be on Thursday night, performing their "modern blues" short program in front of an enthusiastic crowd (what else in Newfoundland?) at Mile One Stadium in St. John's. Not to mention a national television audience.

TEAMED UP IN MAY

Heady stuff for a duo who only teamed up in May -- one of them, Hay, an Albertan fresh out of the junior ranks.

"It's incredible for me," said Hay, 22, of Grande Prairie, Alta., who's doing his best to soak up Langlois' considerable experience, which included the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics with former partner Patrice Archetto.

Hay, meanwhile, hadn't competed internationally as a senior until last week, when he and Langlois won the pairs silver medal at the Karl Schafer Memorial in Austria. That was one small step forward. Now comes the change for a bigger one at Mile One.

But for this young team, Season No. 1 is like building the foundation of a house. They're taking it one brick at a time, making sure the structure is sound and sturdy.

"We can do all the big tricks that you need at the senior level," said Langlois, 24. "It's just a matter of being consistent. We want it to happen in competition, in that very short period of time we're on the ice.

MET THREE-PLUS YEARS AGO

"We've still got lots of work to do ... we're polishing everything up, so we look like a team together."

Langlois and Hay first met more than three years ago, when she and Archetto relocated to Edmonton's Royal Glenora Skating Club after Salt Lake to work with coach Jan Ullmark.

Over time, they became the best of friends.

But skating partners?

"I didn't think we'd ever skate together," admitted Langlois. "Funny how things happen."

What happened, in Langlois and Archetto's case, was a rather abrupt split in February after a rollercoaster time together in which they rose as high as No. 5 in the world but could never win a Canadian senior pairs title.

Langlois was convinced she still had a lot of skating years left in her. All she needed was someone else. She and Hay did some shows together, never thinking it would go much further.

But, as Hay put it, "sometimes what you're looking for is right under your nose."

In this case, take that literally. At 5-foot-11, Hay has about a foot on his 4-foot-11 partner. But many observers already like the match.

They enlisted Lee Barkell as a coach, and set up shop at the fertile Mariposa School of Skating in Barrie.

Two high-powered choreographers -- Lori Nichol (famed for Jamie Sale and David Pelletier's Love Story) and Nikolai Morozov crafted their free and short programs, respectively.

Now it's just a matter of opening some eyes. You'll see them for a while -- the 2010 Vancouver Games are this duo's prime target. If somehow they land in Turin in February ... well, consider that another one of those bonuses.

"Who knows?" said Langlois.

Funny how things happen sometimes.

GLOUCESTER GALA: The Gloucester Skating Club is holding a competitive team gala today at the Orleans Recreation Complex, from 2-3:30 p.m. It's a warmup for the Skate Canada Eastern Ontario Sectionals, which run Nov. 4-6 in Whitby. The sectionals are the first qualifying step on the road to the Canadian championships, Jan. 9-15 at the Civic Centre.

AROUND THE AMATEUR SCENE: Five NCCP Jr. Raiders have been named to the Ontario Under-18 women's hockey team, which will play in a national tournament Nov. 9-13 in Salmon Arm, B.C. The group includes Nepean's Samantha Evelyn and Brittany Kirkham; Carolyn Campbell of Orleans; Kanata's Jasmine Giles, and Christina Julien of Cornwall ... World champion rower Elizabeth Urbach of Carp is in Boston this weekend with several other national teamers for the famed Head of the Charles regatta.

rob.brodie@ott.sunpub.com


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