Orleans skater brings home the gold

ROB BRODIE -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 11:55 AM ET

Candice Hann-McCurdy was louder and prouder than anyone at the Civic Centre yesterday.

After all, big sister was finally bringing her the gold.

It was quite the coronation, indeed, for Allie Hann-McCurdy and Michael Coreno at the Canadian figure skating championships. With a mature, riveting performance to music from Carmen, they ascended to the top step of the podium in the junior ice dance event.

Hann-McCurdy, 18, of Orleans, who represents the Gloucester Skating Club, and Coreno won all three phases of the competition, and their overall total of 151.47 points was an impressive 10.26 better than Quebec's Mylene Lamoureux and Michael Mee.

Toronto's Andrea Chong and Spencer Barnes of Pickering took the bronze.

For Hann-McCurdy and Coreno, it was the expected step. After finishing second behind Ottawa's Siobhan Karam and Joshua McGrath at last year's nationals in London, they came to the capital this week favoured to grab the gold. They delivered in a major way, allowing Hann-McCurdy to fulfill a promise to her 16-year-old sister.

''Candice is always saying, 'Allie, you've got to win the gold medal.' ... To her, it's not good enough unless I win gold,'' said Allie. ''I haven't seen her since we moved to B.C. (to train). She misses me a lot ... she's been here all week, shouting her head off. I've heard it all the time.

''I promised her that if I won the gold medal, I would give it to her.''

OLYMPIC GOAL

Hann-McCurdy and Coreno plan to have plenty more gold medals to keep in the future. Their ultimate target is the Vancouver 2010 Olympics, and that's why they headed west in September to train with former world champion Victor Kraatz and his wife, Maikki Uotila Kraatz.

The B.C. Centre of Excellence will be their house of dreams for the next four years, and they're the first Canadian champions produced by Kraatz and his wife at the new ice dance school there.

''Wow, that's something else. I guess he's an okay coach,'' said Coreno, 21, of Delhi with a laugh.

Added Hann-McCurdy: ''It's cool. I like having a title. But (Kraatz) has 10 senior titles, so we can't really compare ourselves to him yet.''

Hann-McCurdy and Coreno admit to being inspired by Shae-Lynn Bourne and Kraatz, who ended their careers with a world title in 2003. Hann-McCurdy watched them skate at the 1995 nationals, when her family lived in Halifax.

''I had almost by that point decided that I wanted to skate,'' said Hann-McCurdy, age seven at the time. ''It put the idea of ice dance firmly in the back of my mind.''

Added Coreno: ''I always looked up to Shae-Lynn and Victor. They were my idols, they were the best dancers. We always looked up to them. I just never thought they'd be standing by the boards with us.''

The season isn't done for the new national champs. Hann-McCurdy and Coreno should learn tomorrow that they've been named to Canada's team for the world junior championships, March 6-12 in Ljubljana, Slovenia.

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED

In Kraatz' mind, that makes it mission accomplished.

''Our focus (this season) was to have them win and go to junior worlds,'' he said. ''The first step has been accomplished, and now when we go home, we'll evaluate the program and the results on paper and make some more changes. That will enable them to do better at junior worlds.''

They plan to make an immediate splash as seniors next season.

''We don't just want to be last year's junior champions,'' said Coreno.

rob.brodie@ott.sunpub.com


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