Super Friday super busy

TERRY JONES, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:49 AM ET

SASKATOON -- It was Super Friday at the Canadian Figure Skating Championships.

"It's the first time we've had all four events going on the same day," according to Skate Canada CEO William Thompson.

How super it was depended on who you were.

The first dance duo, Claire Tannett and Wendell McGrath of Calgary, took to the ice at 9:05 a.m. and defending men's champion Patrick Chan of Toronto was scheduled to finish off the marathon at 10:57 p.m. local time before the withdrawal of Edmonton's Ehren Jaleel due to the flu, which moved the men's short program five minutes ahead.

If you hadn't OD'd on the original dance by noon, there was plenty more to come after defending Canadian champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir - silver medallists at last year's world championships - essentially sewed up a second straight Canadian crown and world bronze medallists Jessica Dube and Bryce Davison found themselves second to Meagan Duhamel and Craig Buntin in pairs. And four-time Canadian champion Joannie Rochette found herself behind Cynthia Phaneuf, the Canadian titlist in 2004 as a 15-year-old.

SUCCESSFUL RETURN

Ten months after they last competed, after winning the compulsory dance for openers, Virtue and Moir won the original dance here yesterday in their first competition of the season following leg surgery for Virtue and scored 63.76 for an overall score of 103.09 and a large lead heading into tonight's free skate final.

"I'm feeling so much stronger," said Virtue, the 19-year-old London, Ont., skater. "It's hard to believe three months ago everyone laughed when I tried to walk.

"When I think of it that way, I'm really proud of the progress I've made and we're on our way. I think heading into Worlds we'll be training full steam ahead and there will be no issues."

After what happened here yesterday, skaters are poised to make it an all-Ontario podium sweep in dance.

Vanessa Crone of Aurora and Paul Poirier of Unionville sit second at 91.18 with Kaitlyn Weaver of Toronto and Andrew Poje of Waterloo third at 84.81 after the first two events.

Meanwhile the pairs team of Dube and Davison, winners of bronze at last year's Worlds after finishing second to Anabelle Langlois of Gatineau, Que., and Cody Hay of Grande Prairie at Canadians, found themselves sitting second after the short program.

Skating last, Dube of Drummondville, Que., and Davison of Cambridge, Ont., were simply out-skated by a second-year team.

Buntin, the veteran who took on new partner Duhamel last year and ended up sixth at the world championships, skated a clean program for a season-best 65.74 compared to a 62.22 by the world medallists.

OLYMPIC RESULTS

"After a year and a half, those are the marks we needed to start putting up," said Buntin, the 28-year-old Kelowna skater. "They look like Olympic marks."

Duhamel, the 23-year-old from Lively, Ont., said they didn't come here to finish second.

"We came here planning to be first place. We have one step done," she said.

"When we started the goal was world and Olympic podium," said Buntin.

Dube and Davison, who skated last, didn't watch the two but knew from the crowd reaction they did well.

"They must have to get really good marks like that. It's great to have competition within our own nation."


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