Plenty on the line in London

Jessica Dube and Bryce Davison perform their short program at the 2010 BMO Canadian Figure Skating...

Jessica Dube and Bryce Davison perform their short program at the 2010 BMO Canadian Figure Skating Championships. (Mike Hense/QMI)

RYAN PYETTE, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 9:14 PM ET

Patrick Chan is trying to put all those lingering questions to rest.

Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir unknowingly stirred up the spirits of ice dance legends.

Cynthia Phaneuf could stop Joannie Rochette's bid for a legendary winning streak.

And Saturday's pair free skate promises to be a four-couple pileup in the BMO Canadian figure skating championships at London's John Labatt Centre.

Hometown heroes Moir and Virtue scored a season-best 70.15 points for their original dance and are well on their way to a third straight national title.

When they picked the strains of "Farrucas" for their flamenco dance, they had no idea the significance of the music.

It's exactly what Russians Ekaterina Gordeeva and Sergei Grinkov skated to en route to a second gold medal at the 1994 Olympics in Lillehammer.

Moir and Virtue's coach Marina Zoueva was Gordeeva and Grinkov's choreographer back then. She couldn't contain her secret any longer.

"They (Virtue and Moir) don't know," she said after the duo brought down the house with their performance. "They were given 20 CDs and they chose the music from that one (Farrucas)."

The battle for the second ice dance Olympic spot is almost a dead heat.

Andrew Poje and Kaitlyn Weaver pulled ahead of Vanessa Crone and Paul Poirier by two-hundredths of a point heading into Saturday's free dance.

Chan skated his short program Friday night. Everyone's been waiting to see if Canada's main man is fit - mentally, emotionally and physically - before Vancouver.

He can take comfort that he's surrounding by many people paddling similar canoes.

There's a lot of redemption in the air here.

Phaneuf won the national title six years ago at age 15. Then she lost her way. Right now, she leads five-time defending champ Joannie Rochette (64.15) after a spectacular 66.30-point short program Friday.

In the pairs, injury forced Anabelle Langlois and Cody Hay from defending their national title in Saskatoon last year.

Heading into Saturday's free skate, they're on top with 65.47 points. Reigning champs Jessica Dube and Bryce Davison are in second (62.87).

The pairs injury report reads like a beat-up NFL team in Week 17.

Langlois successfully pleaded with her surgeon to take the plate out of her ankle so she could skate this season.

“(Last year) we were miked up to do an interview for CBC and could hear the music (for the pairs warmup) in the background,” Hay said. “That hurt. It wasn’t fun.”

Every triple Duhamel lands is a personal victory. She’s dealt with nerve damage and numbness in her landing leg.

Duhamel goes through two days of acupuncture, a massage a week, physiotherapy Monday-to-Friday and a couple of approved pain-relief pills to keep Vancouver hope alive.

“Everyone has pain,” she said with a shrug. “You find a way to deal with it. Everyone here brought their 'A’ game here. We expected nothing less.”

It’s the nature of this figure skating business that Chan knows too well.

Risk and disappointment lurk at the door like a horror-flick villain.

“If you’re not living on the edge,” Chan’s choreographer Lori Nichol said, “you’re taking up too much space. I tell that to Patrick all the time.”

Phaneuf’s road back was long and winding. At Kitchener in November, she struggled worse than Chan.

“She fell twice in the first 40 seconds of the short program,” coach Annie Barabe said. “After that, she looked lost on the ice. She was like a robot.

“In the kiss-and-cry, I told her to keep her chin up.”

Friday, Phaneuf pumped her fist and sat happily on Barabe’s lap as her score flashed on the scoreboard.

“I saw Kurt Browning the other day, he told me he had been cleaning up (his place) and went through all his old newspapers,” Barabe said. “And he found that he had fallen down, his ass on the ice, a lot more times than he had won.”

But he always picked himself up.

One great skate erases five bad ones.

Last year, Skate Canada asked past stars to gather in Toronto and speak to the Olympic medal hopefuls.

“For me, it was an emotional, complicated week,” Elizabeth Manley, the 1988 Olympic silver medalist, said. “It was right when my mother (Joan) was dying in the hospital in Kingston. I thought about not going but I made a commitment to the team. It was a crazy time, but I’m glad I went.

“I was able to connect with Joannie (Rochette). I told her there are so many distractions at a home Olympics. It’s difficult not to get caught up. But don’t let it affect you.

“Anything can happen. It did for me.”

Two days later, Manley’s mother passed away.

But her delivered message is one Chan can take to heart.

Everyone’s got their own woes.

The big bounce back is just one skate away.


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