Skates on a plane? Nope

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:35 AM ET

HALIFAX -- So you think you get miffed when you're not allowed to take all those different items on a plane since 9-11?

Figure skaters can't take their skates with them. They're considered weapons.

It was Nov. 21 when Anabelle Langlois arrived in Russia for a Grand Prix event when she went to collect the skate bag she used to be able to place in an overhead bin.

No skates.

Now, you just can't go to the GUM store and buy a new set and go out there and compete. Or borrow a pair from somebody else.

Not when you have size 3 1/2 feet.

"I don't think anybody else in figure skating wears a size 3 1/2," laughed the four-foot-11 native of Grande-Mere, Que.

It's traumatic enough when you lose a world-class partner who quit you and the sport because of unrequited love. But then to lose your skates ...

"I had a sick feeling when I put them in baggage for the trip here," said Langlois, who finished fifth in the world with partner Patrice Archetto skating out of Edmonton's Royal Glenora Club before a split in their romantic relationship resulted in a split as a pair in skating.

She's been breaking in up-from-junior Cody Hay of Grande Prairie, who has spent the last few weeks wondering if he shouldn't have taken up chuckwagon racing or rodeo instead.

Langlois said skating has to find a solution to the airline problem. It could cost somebody an Olympic medal.

"Maybe we're going to have to Fed-Ex them ahead," she said.

But when she thinks of that, she remembers the Tom Hanks movie Cast Away in which the plane crashed and his character ended up on an island with a soccer ball he named Wilson and, yes, a set of white women's figure skates.

The good news is her skates arrived here with her, and the two will be on the ice today as the Canadian Figure Skating Championships get into high gear.

But it's set their preparation back weeks.

"I was getting sick from all the stress," she said.

Competitive figure skates, with special-made form-fitting boots and blades, cost about $2,700. And you just don't take them out of the box and go out and do a death spiral.

"I had anger tears for the first while until my feet got numb and I could skate a bit," she said of returning with a new set two weeks before Christmas.

"One day Cody tried to tell me his boots were hurting and I just gave him a glare."

Normally pairs skaters go through one set a year. There's so much pounding on the landings of the throws. The routine is to slowly break them in between the competitive season and the show season.

To have to do it in a hurry ...

"I really had to push it. The first few days were really blistering days. There was a lot of pain."

Langlois says losing that one piece of luggage cost them in a lot of different ways including prize money ($25,000 for first) in the Russia event.

"I had my jewelry in there, my competitive makeup and my national team tracksuit. Lufthansa only gives you $500. You have to pay your coach and the expenses of your coach.

"And I missed a week of work," added the 26-year-old waitress.

"The big thing was missing an event. We'd come a long way since nationals last year," she said of the Canadian championships where they finished second.

If there's a silver lining here it's that they sat and watched the Cup of Russia event with different eyes.

"Cody could see where we are compared to other skaters in every element. Lately I can feel he's leading me and feeding me after that experience. My confidence in him has grown. Before I was never sure if he was sure."

Hay says having to go through what they have has definitely helped him.

"It helped bring me a long at an accelerated pace. Now I don't feel so much that Anabelle is bringing me along anymore."

Now she feels she can count on him. If she only felt like she could count on the airlines.

TJONES@EDMSUN.COM

RIGHT: Anabelle Langlois talks with her new partner, Grande Prairie's Cody Hay, in the stands at the Metro Centre in Halifax yesterday. BELOW: Joannie Rochette of Ile Dupas, Que., skates during practice at the Metro Centre yesterday.


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