It figures! Skating memories

ROB BRODIE -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 6:59 AM ET

Some random notes, quotes and observations as another Canadian figure championships grinds to a sudden finish on a Sunday afternoon:

- So much of what went on at the Civic Centre this week centred around the Turin Games, and the quest to live an Olympic dream. And for the first time, that drama played out in Ottawa. But if you looked a little more closely, you saw plenty to be excited about in the years to come. Patrick Chan, Kevin Reynolds (he of the historic quad Salchows), Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir ... all good reasons to believe the sport's future is in good hands in this country. "I've never seen a stronger middle group at the Canadian championships that I can remember," said Skate Canada CEO Pam Coburn. "We've got some huge depth right now."

- Two years ago, it seemed we'd turned the corner in the senior women's event, and the days of mediocrity had reached their end. So what happened this year? Beyond the medal winners, much of skating was generally uninspiring -- and that might be charitable. But fear not, brighter days might yet be around the corner. Throw a healthy Cynthia Phaneuf and Amanda Billings back into the mix, add in some exciting new talent like junior champ Diane Szmiett, and this event should rebound in a big way soon enough.

- As Joannie Rochette spoke with French-language media about her women's triumph on Friday night, bronze medalist Lesley Hawker snuck up behind her and whispered "you rock" into her ears. She openly rooted on tiny Mira Leung, even as the Vancouver skater was in the process of knocking Hawker off the Canadian Olympic team with her joyful, brilliant free skate. Yes, we like her because she's a great quote, and we can't get enough of her radiant smile. But you, too, should cheer for Hawker, the kind of athlete who makes this, 15 years later, still my favourite figure skating event of them all.

- If I've got Barbara Ann Scott's energy and sunny outlook on life when I'm 77, I'll be one lucky dude. Good on Skate Canada, by the way, for choosing to name its head office on Shefford Rd. the Barbara Ann Scott Building. "She's been a tremendous supporter," said Coburn. "We're so fortunate to have a great lady like Barbara Ann Scott in our sport." And on our planet.

- Megan Wing and Aaron Lowe, the grand old warriors of Canadian ice dance, wondered if the Canadian Olympic Committee's push to get younger talent to multiple Games might phase them out before they had a chance to experience even one themselves. Not to worry. Wing and Lowe took a gutsy gamble by dumping their free dance nine weeks ago for a brand new one that the judges didn't see for real until yesterday. It was a smash and it's Turin, here they come. Don't fret for Virtue and Moir, who have a long Olympic future ahead of them. "They could be there in 2014 or even 2018, too," Lowe said.

- Wing and Lowe, Virtue and Moir, Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto, Ottawa's Siobhan Karam and Joshua McGrath ... that's really some ice dance training group coaches Marina Zoueva and Igor Shpilband have lined up at the Detroit Skating Club.

- Let's hear it for the kids. Leung, Jessica Dube and Bryce Davison all showed the moxie it takes to handle the crush of the Olympics. And who says there isn't room for a little teen enthusiasm on our Turin team? "Age doesn't have anything to do with in the end," said Karam, 20, of Ottawa. "You've just got to skate it and you can be there."

HITTING THE ROAD: A few local skaters have a road trip of their own to take in the next few months. As expected, the Ottawa-born Chan and junior ice dance champs Allie Hann-McCurdy of Orleans and Michael Coreno of Delhi are headed to the world junior championships, March 6-12 in Ljubljana, Slovenia. Hull's Anabelle Langlois and pairs partner Cody Hay of Grande Prairie, Alta., have been assigned to the Four Continents Championship, Jan. 23-29 in Colorado Springs, as has Pembroke-born Nicholas Young.

TAKE A BOW, OTTAWA: Attendance this week was 54,047, a healthy jump over the 46,764 who attended the 1999 nationals at the Civic Centre. Few cities warm up to a major figure skating event like ours, and it's why we'll always be on Skate Canada's radar screen for this one. Let's hope we don't have to wait another seven years to see Canada's best again.


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