Brothers push each other for motivation

STEVE GREEN, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 10:53 AM ET

If Shane Firus needs a source of motivation at the Skate Canada junior figure skating championships, he need not look beyond his big brother Liam.

While it may be relatively uncommon for brothers to take up the sport, it came naturally to the two North Vancouver residents.

"We both did hockey and because a lot of hockey players go to figure skating to get a better edge, we both tried it and found out we liked it," Shane, 15, said after placing fifth in the novice men's short program at the Western Fair Sports Centre with 33.62 points, putting him in the final flight of skaters for today's free skate. "We both stopped playing hockey when we were about seven or eight. I like it more (than hockey) because it's more about doing my own thing."

Both also played soccer, with Liam playing at a provincial level, Shane one level below. The brothers, as usually happens, have a bit of a friendly rivalry.

"He finished fourth as a novice," Shane said. "Let's see if I can better that."

He's got a shot, at least, after yesterday's effort. "I felt really confident, really good," he said.

Jordan Ju of Maple Ridge, B.C., leads with 40.17 points and Peter O'Brien of Ameliasburgh, near Kingston, is second at 37.69. London native Cole Vandervelden, now living in St. Albert, Alta., sits third at 33.62.

Liam, meanwhile, leads the junior men's after the short program with 55.85 points despite a fall early in his routine after landing a combination. Samuel Morais of Laval, Que., is second at 52.69, while Michael Marinaro of Sarnia is eighth at 46.38. The free skate is tomorrow.

The 17-year-old said having a younger brother follow him "is pretty cool, actually."

"If one of us has a bad day, the other picks him up. And we push each other," he said.

Liam enters the senior ranks next year and is being tabbed as one of the up-and-comers.

"I've had some people say I remind them of Patrick Chan," Liam Firus said of the two-time senior national champion, "but I can't think that highly of myself yet. I'm not taking anything for granted -- I'm still a junior and I just have to keep working as hard as possible. I would totally love a gold medal here, but I just want to skate two programs to the best of my ability."

The brothers are looking forward to seeing the world's best compete in the Vancouver Winter Olympics next month.

"It'll going to be really interesting to watch the best compete against the best," Shane said.

"It's going to be so inspirational," Liam added. "It's going to show me how they look in real life, how they'll train. I'll be learning a lot."

In junior pairs, Margaret Purdy of Strathroy and Michael Marinaro of Sarnia hold a comfortable lead after scoring 48.80 points in the short program.

The Guelph duo of Katherine Bobak and Matthew Penasse are second with 43.58, while Taylor Steele of Strathroy and Rob Schultz of Morriston are fifth at 40.02. The free program ends the junior championships tomorrow night, starting at 8 p.m.

In junior ice dance, Alexandra Paul and Mitchell Islam of Barrie lead with 34.42 points after the compulsory dance. Olivia Martins of Toronto and Alvin Chau of Richmond Hill are second at 32.23. The original dance is today at 4 p.m. and the free dance is tomorrow at 9:25 a.m.

In novice pairs, Alexandra and Matthew Young of Corner Brook, Nfld., lead with 38.76 points. Krystel Desjardins of La Plaine, Que., and Charlie Bilodeau of Blainville, Que., are second at 38.39 while London native Shalena Rau of Waterloo and Phelan Simpson of Lunenburg, N.S., sit third at 36.90. The free skate goes at 2:05 p.m. today.

In novice women, it's a virtual dead heat after the short program as Kimberly Moon-Chong of Toronto leads with 38.69 points, 0.02 ahead of Natasha Purich of Sherwood Park, Alta. Cassandra McDonnell of Strathroy sits eighth at 31.12.

In novice ice dance, Kelly Oliveira of Toronto and Jordan Hockley of Whitby lead with 28.26 points after the compulsory dance. Victoria and Connor Hasegawa of Hudson, Que., are second at 26.86; Michaela and Scott Botsford of London are eighth at 23.34; Kylie Knight of Glencoe and Benjamin Mulder of Waterloo are 10th at 23.12, and Jade Morrow of Guelph and Allan Stoll of London are 11th at 23.10 heading into today's 9 a.m. free skate.

steve.green@sunmedia.ca

CANADIAN FIGURE SKATING CHAMPIONSHIPS

Senior

At the John Labatt Centre

Tomorrow: Compulsory dance, 6 p.m.

Friday: Women's short program, 9:55 a.m.; pairs' short, 12:55 p.m.; original dance, 4:55 p.m.; men's short, 7:25 p.m.

Saturday: Pairs' free skate, 11:30 a.m.; women's free, 3 p.m.; free dance, 7 p.m.

Sunday: Men's free, 4 p.m.

Tickets: All-event package, $125-150, plus tax. Online at www.johnlabattcentre.com, by phone at 1-866-455-2849 or in person at the JLC box office.

Junior nationals

At the Western Fair Sports Centre

Today: Novice free dance, 9 a.m.; novice men free, 11:20 a.m.; novice pair free, 2:05 p.m.; junior dance original, 4:10 p.m.; novice women free, 6:20 p.m.; junior women short, 8:55 p.m.

Tomorrow: junior dance free, 9:25 a.m.; junior men free, 11:45 a.m.; junior women free, 5 p.m.; junior pair free, 8 p.m.


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