Pairs skating has already given Brooke Paulin a world of wonderful new experiences.
But right in her own backyard, the Nepean Skating Club competitor enjoyed a couple of firsts yesterday.
In a bit of a surprise, Paulin found herself on the top step of the podium after the junior women's event at the Skate Canada Eastern Ontario Sectionals at the Nepean Sportsplex.
She posted a personal-best overall score of 97.96 points and, as it turned out, needed every bit of it. Free-program winner Dana Zhalko-Tytarenko of the Minto Skating Club totalled 97.93 -- a scant .03 points behind Paulin --and wound up with the silver.
''Dana is a good friend of mine. It just happened to be my day,'' said Paulin, 17, who'd never been part of such a close finish before yesterday. ''There was some tough competition here. Coming in, my goal wasn't to win, it was just to move on.''
Minto's Alexandrine Chong won the bronze.
Paulin has enjoyed her biggest successes as a pairs skater. Last season, she and Nathan Last were the novice pairs silver medallists at the Skate Canada Junior Nationals, an impressive feat for a first-year team.
Skate Canada rewarded them with two Junior Grand Prix assignments in Budapest and Taipei City, where they finished ninth and eighth, respectively. ''A great experience,'' she called it.
Both skaters intend to do double duty at the Skate Canada Eastern Challenge, Nov. 30-Dec. 3 in Moncton, N.B. -- and beyond.
''My goal is to make it to nationals (in Halifax) and skate my best,'' said Paulin, who was 18th among junior women in her Canadian championships debut earlier this year at the Civic Centre. ''I've been working on my consistency and that helps a lot."
Last was the junior men's gold medallist yesterday.