KITCHENER — Skate Canada, the governing body for figure skating in this country, has pulled out all the stops to prepare its athletes for the pressure cooker that will be the Vancouver Olympics.
Skate Canada CEO William Thompson said that his federation is leaving nothing to chance in preparing Canadian skaters for Vancouver, including holding a series of seminars earlier this fall where skaters who competed at the 1988 Calgary Olympics discussed how to handle the media pressure at a home Games with the current national team.
London’s Scott Moir, the defending world championship bronze medallist in the ice dance along with partner Tessa Virtue, said talking to likes of Brian Orser, Elizabeth Manley and Tracy Wilson was invaluable.
“It was all about just trying to keep it normal and have a plan, that was the biggest thing ... and don’t waste your time with all the media stuff,” Moir said, with a laugh. “The message was: It’s going to be different, it’s going to be a little bit crazy, So, to get the feed back from everybody who’s gone through the experience, to hear their stories and the lessons they learned, really helps.
"Especially for teams like us, it’s going to be our first Olympics.”
Moir and Virtue, who are competing at this weekend’s HomeSense Skate Canada International, won their opening Grand Prix of the season last month at the Trophee Eric Bombard in Paris and are favored for a medal in Vancouver.
Thompson said Skate Canada also arranged for the season-opening training camps, the last three years, to be held at the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver, site of the Olympic figure skating competition.
The federation also bid for, and succeeded, in hosting the 2008 Canadian championships and last season’s Four Continents championships at the same venue.
“It’s to get them really comfortable with the facility,” said Thompson. “They all know the building, the set up and it’s really a comfortable space for them.
“Ice is more or less ice, it’s not like a bobsled run, but anything you can do to give them a comfort zone heading into an Olympic Games is advantageous,” he added.
Thompson said that Canadian skaters will also not compete at this season’s Four Continents competition because it is being held all the way in South Korea, just a couple of weeks before the start of the Olympics.