Canada golden for first time

MORRIS DALLA COSTA, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:57 AM ET

Canada is a world synchronized skating champion and local skaters had a big hand in the victory.

Nexxice, a team from the Burlington/Kitchener area, was crowned at the ISU world championships in Zagreb, Croatia, on the weekend.

Canada has medalled before at the championships, but this was the first gold medal in the team competition, which was held for the 10th time.

There were five local skaters on the Canada 1 team. Sheri Moir and Cara Moir are from the Ilderton Skating Club, while Allison Proudfoot, Cara Horan and Julia Horan are from London Skating Club.

Canada won bronze in London in 2007 and last year in Hungary.

"We're excited to see the girls. It was quite a win," said Carol Moir, mother of Sheri and Cara.

It was an exciting win.

Canada was in second place, 2.24 points behind a strong team from Finland after the short program, but came back with an outstanding free program to take the title by 3.30 points.

Canada scored 143.46 on its free skate, a huge margin over the Finns, who scored 137.92.

Ilderton and London have strong synchro-based programs. Despite its Burlington and Kitchener base, the Canadian champion Nexxice gets ice time "all over the place," Carol Moir said.

Top skaters from Western Ontario tried out for the team. Coach Shelley Simonton Barnett kept 24 and named 20 to the team. Of those, 16 skate at one time.

"It's a real commitment," Carol Moir said. "They skate three times a week, three hours on the ice and one off. But when they are preparing for a world championship, they skate a lot more. These skaters are all at the top of the skating scale.

"Sheri and Cara have been involved for three years and Allison Proudfoot has been involved with this team for the last four years. Julia Horan was involved last year and Cara this year," Carol Moir said.

Pat Woods, chairperson of Skate Canada's Western Ontario section, said Barnett has had most of this team together for three years. "Then she just fine-tunes them."

Woods credits three major areas for the team's success.

"Their deep edges, their precision and their interpretation and variety of music. They are a very quiet team. You don't hear a lot of scraping or scratching."

The Canadian team also worked with Annie Schelter, who is well known for coaching edges in synchronized skating.

"The edges on this team were beautiful," Woods said. "This was a very big win for Nexxice for Canada and for Western Ontario."

Canada's second entry in the competition, Black Ice from the Upper Canada North York Skating Club, finished fifth out of the 23 teams from 18 countries.

There isn't much rest for the skaters. This month, Nexxice will hold tryouts for next year's team.


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