Barrie pair dominates ice dance

STEVE GREEN, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 10:13 AM ET

It's the nature of all things competitive -- once you get to the top, others start looking at who will replace you.

The world of Canadian ice dance is no different.

Tessa Virtue of London and Scott Moir of Ilderton may be the reigning monarchs as the BMO Skate Canada senior nationals opened last night at the John Labatt Centre, but future contenders to their throne were battling it out yesterday morning as the junior nationals wrapped up at the Western Fair Sports Centre.

Actually, it wasn't much of a contest as Alexandra Paul and Mitchell Islam of Barrie dominated. They took an 11.5-point lead from the compulsory and original dance into the free dance and they widened it to a staggering 24.17 points with a total of 169.39 points. Olivia Martins of Toronto and Alvin Chau of Richmond Hill finished second with 145.22.

"We had three really good programs here," Islam said. "We seemed to peak at the right time with three programs we're really proud of."

While having such big lead going into the free dance could have lulled them into a false sense of security, Paul said that wasn't a concern.

"Going into it we just wanted a personal best, no matter where we were or what our lead was," she said. "We just wanted to skate for ourselves."

And they have been, very well, since they joined up last February.

"It doesn't seem like it's only been a year," Islam said. "We've skated at the same club for years, since I was three and she was five, so we've known each other for a long time and have been friends for a long time. At the end of last year we ended up looking for a partner and decided to give it a shot.

"Dance isn't like singles or pairs, where everyone does the same elements. Every dance team is unique and one of our goals this week was not to fit in. We wanted to make a splash."

The natural comparison to Virtue and Moir is inevitable.

"We've got a long way to go before we're in their league," Islam said. "But they're definitely idols of ours."

They got to watch their idols perform their compulsory dance last night at the JLC, a benefit of the juniors and seniors being held in the same city for the first time in a while.

"It's definitely more exciting for us," Paul said. "We get to watch the seniors, the people we look up to, and it motivates us even more."

In junior men's, Liam Firus of North Vancouver, skating last in the long program, held on to his lead from the short program despite a few stumbles to win with 159.00 points. Samuel Morais of Laval, Que., who was the penultimate skater, finished second at 155.49 after scoring 102.80 in the long program, putting the pressure on Firus.

steve.green@sunmedia.ca


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