Marcoux's time is up

ROB BRODIE -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 7:48 AM ET

Valerie Marcoux simply ran out of dreams to chase.

It's why the 27-year-old from Gatineau feels right about closing the book on a pairs figure skating career that has been much more than she could have imagined.

While her retirement announcement was made official yesterday, Marcoux told the Sun she's known for months that her life on the ice was rapidly coming to an end.

"I just realized this season that I had achieved all my dreams," said Marcoux, who informed partner Craig Buntin in December, just before the Grand Prix final, that she was leaning toward hanging up her skates.

In five years together, Marcoux and Buntin achieved plenty. They were surprise senior pairs champions at the 2004 Canadian figure skating championships in Edmonton, then went out and defended that title twice more before finishing second this year in Halifax.

A year ago in Calgary, they soared to fifth place at the worlds -- their highest placement at the event. They wound up sixth in their competitive skating swan song at the 2007 Tokyo worlds.

Also on their resume: An 11th-place finish at the 2006 Turin Olympics, which both consider a career highlight.

"My dream was just to do pairs skating," said Marcoux, a silver medallist in novice singles at the 1996 nationals in Ottawa. "To have three Canadian championships was a big achievement.

"I'm really satisfied and happy with what we accomplished."

BUNTIN EQUALLY PROUD

Buntin, who hopes to find a new partner that can get him to the 2010 Olympics, was equally proud of their years together.

"There are skaters who dream of doing what we've done," said Buntin, 26, of North Vancouver, B.C. "I have no regrets. Val and I were never the most gifted team, things were never easy for us. We worked hard to achieve what we did and I'm very proud of what we did."

The road this season might have been the toughest of all. They came to Halifax knowing it was probably their last Canadian championships as a team.

"I already knew (I was retiring), but I couldn't really talk about it," said Marcoux. "It was very difficult, there was a lot of emotion.

"It was a struggle to make it to worlds. But I didn't want to finish halfway through the season."

Buntin agreed: "Something was definitely missing" in Halifax. But he has been supportive of his former girlfriend's decision.

'REALLY LUCKY'

"Val accomplished everything she had to accomplish. There's no animosity about this, no hard feelings," he said. "At worlds, we both knew we were in a good place with the decision she had made.

"Few people in this sport get to choose when they retire. To accomplish what she did in her career is impressive. She should be proud of herself."

Marcoux used another word.

"I'm really lucky," she said. "I was able to make that decision and trust me, it was not easy. It's a big change in my life. It's going from something I was doing every day to a new world out there."

That world is taking her to Columbus, Ohio, where she'll coach young skaters, some of whom no doubt want to chase those same dreams Marcoux had as a young girl in the Outaouais.

Columbus is also where her current boyfriend, former Ohio State hockey player Luke Pavlas, runs a construction business. They met at a wedding last summer in Casselman.

"I'm driving there on Monday," said Marcoux, who won't move to Ohio for good until July.

"It's a new beginning."


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