EDMONTON — In the summer of 1999 choreographer Lori Nichol produced a program for Jamie Sale and David Pelletier set to music from the movie Love Story.
Together they won an Olympic gold medal with Love Story and had the world convinced they were going to live it for life when they skated off the Olympic stage together.
Appropriately, it turns out, Love Story was their short program.
After four years of marriage Canada’s most adored figure skating pair of all time, announced their divorce in separate statements yesterday.
The girl from Alberta and the boy from Quebec who first won a gold at the world championships together in 2001 and then became famous around the world for being the victims of the Salt Lake 2002 Olympic judge fixing scandal before finally being presented with their gold medals, will remain Sale & Pelletier together in show skating appearances on the ice but not off.
Separated for some time but looking like they were back together around Christmas and early in the New Year to people close to them, Sale & Pelletier looked to be a couple again as they carried Olympic flame together during the torch relay prior to the Vancouver Olympic Winter Games.
According to people close to them their marriage hit the rocks again at the Olympics with little likelihood of reconciliation from that point.
“We’ve had an incredible partnership for the past 12 years and we look forward to that mutual respect and commitment continuing both on the ice and as we parent our son,” said the now 33-year-old Sale in her statement.
“While this is always a difficult decision, we still share two of the most important parts of our lives in common and for that reason we wanted it to be amicable and by mutual agreement,” she said of son Jesse who was born in 2007.
“As a team we have achieved many goals but no medal or accomplishment can compare to our son. He will always be our priority,” said Pelletier, now 35, in his statement.
The two will, by all indications, remain in Edmonton.
“It’s very, very sad to see,” said Dr. Bob Steadward of Edmonton, their former agent and manager.
“In 1993 I began representing Jamie and in 1999 both of them. I was with them when they won the world championships and in Salt Lake a year later when they went through everything there. It’s so sad to see this happen to them.”
Together from the beginning they were a pair almost out of a romance novel.
It wasn’t love at first sight, mind you.
Sale had a tryout with Pelletier in 1996 but it didn’t take. But when coach Richard Gauthier convinced Pellietier to fly to Edmonton and try again in February of 1998 there was something there.
“The first time we grabbed hands it was just great,” said Pelletier a few years later.
Sale moved to Quebec and then the two decided to move to Edmonton where they were coached by Jan Ullmark to the gold-medal wins at the 2001 Worlds and 2002 Olympics.
In 2000 Sale & Pelletier won their first Canadian championship together skating their Love Story program.
On a holiday in Quebec City that summer with my wife we ran into the two at an outdoor cafe where it was obvious what they had together on the ice had become more than that off the ice.
Pelletier proposed to Sale at their Edmonton home on Christmas Day in 2004 with their parents as witnesses and Pelletier sent her on a scavenger hunt throughout the house to find her engagement ring, which she eventually did in a nutcracker in the kitchen. They were married Dec. 30, 2005 at the Banff Springs Hotel.
When the two were inducted into the Canadian Figure Skating Hall of Fame in 2008, Pelletier told me it took about a year and a half for them to fall in love.
“She didn’t like me very much in the beginning,” he said.
Pelletier was crying throughout that ceremony.
“Since our baby was born I’ve been watching Oprah and crying,” he said.
It is a sad day, not just for Jamie Sale and David Pelletier but for every Canadian that felt that love you could see when they skated.
It was a story which deserved a “happily ever after.”