Skating boss beaming with heavy medal pride

SHANE ROSS, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:02 AM ET

No wonder Skate Canada CEO William Thompson was smiling.

This past weekend showed how bright the future is for Canadian figure skating.

Not all the top skaters in the world were here, but Canadians won medals in all disciplines: Golds by Joannie Rochette and Patrick Chan; silver by pairs Jessica Dube and Bryce Davison, and ice dancers Vanessa Crone and Paul Poirier.

"It was an overwhelming success ... even beyond our expectations," said Thompson.

The four-day crowd of 16,382, including Thursday's practice session, was consistent with other Grand Prix events, he said, and led to "about a break-even" scenario financially.

But he admitted Scotiabank Place may be too large a venue for future Grand Prix events. Next year's Skate Canada International will be held at the 6,900-seat Kitchener Memorial Auditorium.

PRIZED MONEY

At each Grand Prix event, $45,000 US in prize money is up for grabs in each category, including $18,000 for first --welcome incentive for athletes who participate in an expensive sport. Dube and Davison pocketed $13,000 for their second-place finish, but they won't be blowing it on fine wine or Cuban cigars. "We basically put all our sponsorship money and all our prize money back into our skating," said Davison, 22. "All the travelling and training adds up."

POPPIES CATCH ON

Those Italians have an eye for fashion. Women's skater Carolina Kostner was asking Liz Manley why she and so many people in the stands were wearing little red flowers. Our Liz, serving as ambassador to the skaters, explained they were poppies and that it was a Canadian tradition to wear them leading up to Remembrance Day. Kostner was seen wearing one the rest of the weekend -- when she wasn't on the ice, of course.


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