Nepean duo's dreams come true with silver

ROB BRODIE -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 7:03 AM ET

They headed east brimming with optimism, even daring to dream that a medal was indeed possible.

But the reality of it all was even better than Brooke Paulin and Nathan Last could have imagined.

"It's a lot better than I thought," Last said from Moncton, N.B., late Saturday night after he and Paulin had skated to the novice pairs silver medal at the Skate Canada Junior Nationals. "It's really exciting. I'm still kind of getting used to it."

Their performance at the Tim Hortons 4-Ice Centre capped a remarkable run for the first-year team from the Nepean Skating Club. Their overall score was just a hair shy of the century mark -- 99.44 points to be exact -- but a whopping 10.86 better than Paulin and Last posted in winning the Eastern Ontario Sectionals back in November.

So much improvement in so little time.

"It's exciting," said Paulin, 16. "We didn't really expect anything (in Moncton). It's just our first year together, so we just wanted to skate as well as we could."

Paulin and Last skated first in the final flight of Saturday's free skate final, then had to wait out the rest of the field. The top six pairs had all skated brilliantly in the short program, so nothing was guaranteed.

"That was more nerve-wracking than anything else," said Paulin.

As it turned out, she and Last placed third in the free skate but did enough to hold off Burlington's Carolyn MacCuish and Andrew Evans of Etobicoke (98.67) for the silver.

Quebec's Jennifer Thibodeau and Mark Fernandez, with 113.03 points, easily took the gold.

"They were amazing," said Last, 17.

Paulin and Last were second in the short program, so they went into the free knowing a medal was theirs for the taking.

"There were definitely some nerves," said Last. "But we fought through them."

Now they can ponder an even brighter future, which will include a move up to the junior ranks next season.

"We want to keep going and keep improving," said Paulin. "This (medal) took hard work. We get along very well, and we have fun every day. If you're not having fun, you're not going to get anything accomplished."

Last also finished 10th in the novice men's event, the same placement as three other Nepean clubmates -- Ayrton Parkinson (juvenile men), and pre-novice ice dancers Lisa Casselman and Ryan Behnia. Dana Zhalko-Tytarenko of the Minto Skating Club wound up 14th among novice women.


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