Canadians win five medals at Skate Canada

Patrick Chan of Canada holds his first place medal after skating his free program during Skate...

Patrick Chan of Canada holds his first place medal after skating his free program during Skate Canada International in Kingston on October 30, 2010. (REUTERS/ Mike Cassese)

MIKE KOREEN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:07 PM ET

KINGSTON - With many of its heavyweights sidelined, Skate Canada was hoping some of its younger athletes would step up this weekend.

Mission accomplished.

Marquee performer Patrick Chan led a five-medal haul for the home side at Skate Canada International, which featured promising performances by some Canadians who hope to peak at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

“From my perspective, I am delighted,” Skate Canada CEO William Thompson said. “It exceeded my expectations. I’m really pleased with ... how this competition came off.

“What we were looking for coming was that some of our younger athletes would start to show that brilliance we knew they had and get that depth coming so we weren’t (only) talking about our established stars. They really achieved that this week.”

Granted, they did so against a field that was short on star power on an international scale — not out of the ordinary for a post-Olympic season.

But success has to start somewhere — and there is no better place than a senior Grand Prix.

Canada’s 2010 Olympic medal-winners — Joannie Rochette (contemplating her competitive future) and ice dancers Tessa Virtue (injured) and Scott Moir — opened the last post-Olympic cycle by standing on the podium at 2006 Skate Canada International.

“This is the chance, this is your opportunity to put yourself on that track toward that podium in Sochi,” Thompson said. “You think about the last example, Tessa and Scott, and they didn’t make the 2006 (Olympic) team. They made a big statement the next year in the Grand Prix (events) and they started making breakthroughs.”

Young Canuck ice dancers Vanessa Crone of Newmarket and Paul Poirier of Unionville enjoyed their own breakthrough on Sunday, capturing their first senior Grand Prix title.

Another big Canadian highlight came Saturday when Kirsten Moore-Towers of Waterloo and Dylan Moscovitch of Toronto won silver in the pairs — just five days after they received an invitation to the event with two-time reigning national champs Jessica Dube and Bryce Davison injured.

“When we talk about depth, that’s what we need to see,” Skate Canada high performance director Mike Slipchuk said.

“If we have an injury to a top team, someone can step up and get up there (to the podium).”

Paige Lawrence and Rudi Swiegers, third in pairs, and Amelie Lacoste, third in the women’s, event rounded out the Canadian medal contingent.

Canadian ice dancers Alexandra Paul and Mitchell Islam, coming off a silver medal at the world junior championships, just missed the podium in their senior Grand Prix debut. They finished fourth after a crowd-pleasing free skate, placing second among nine teams on Sunday.

It wasn’t a perfect weekend for Skate Canada, however. Cynthia Phaneuf, who finished fifth in the world championships last season, struggled badly in her free skate, dropping to fourth from first after the short program.

Also faltering in the free skate was Kevin Reynolds of North Vancouver, who slipped to fourth after finishing second in the short program by landing two quads.

Chan, the lone reigning national champ competing, was the star of the show.

After falling three times in the short program, the two-time reigning world silver medallist landed his first quad in competition in the free skate and rocketed up the leaderboard for the victory.

“(Chan) won here falling four times (overall),” Thompson said. “He still put up a huge score. You’ve got to think where can he be my March when he gets more mileage.”

Each top Canadian has one more Grand Prix assignment. The top skaters qualify for the Grand Prix final in Beijing Dec. 9-11.

The Canadian championships are Jan. 21-23 in Victoria. The world championships are March 21-27 in Japan.


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