New Canadian Champions

Today Skate Canada crowned two new Canadian champions in woman’s and pair at the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre in Victoria. With the absence of last year’s champions both the women’s and pair events were wide open with fresh faces ready to make their mark.

The ladies hit the ice first to perform their free programs. The skaters from Quebec owned the podium as they took home all three medals. Cynthia Phaneuf reclaimed her Canadian title by winning both the short and free skates for a total of 172.32 points. She previously held the title in 2004 when she was just 16. Myriane Samson laid down a great long program, hitting six triples for the silver medal with 157.82 points. Amélie Lacoste had a solid program to stay strong in third place and win the bronze with 151.72 points.

The men’s short program was next on the agenda and it was no surprise that Central Ontario’s Patrick Chan took the lead with 88.78 points after landing a beautiful quad toe loop. Long-time national team member Shawn Sawyer of Quebec skated a high energy program to score an impressive 77.64 points to place second in the short. Newfoundland’s Joey Russell entertained the crowd with his short to score 69.41 points and sits in third spot.

After the men’s event, a special Skate Canada Hall of Fame ceremony took place for Dr. Hellmut May, 89, who was officially inducted as a professional. May emigrated to Canada in 1954 after a successful skating career in Austria. He won numerous national medals with his home country and represented Austria at the Olympic Winter Games in 1936 and 1948, placing 14th and eighth. May settled in Vancouver, British Columbia and began a coaching career. He coached seven skaters to national titles and had many go on to represent Canada at worlds and Olympics. Tracy Wilson and Victor Kraatz both spoke on how he enriched their skating careers.

The pair event ended the night with the free skate. With none of the teams who medalled in 2010 competing, the podium was up for grabs. Western Ontario’s Kirsten Moore-Towers and Dylan Moscovitch held onto their short program lead to skate a demanding free program and capture the Canadian pair title with 187.63 points. Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford of Quebec came from behind after a fourth place finish in the short to win the silver medal with 171.34 points. Crowd favourites, Saskatchewan’s own Paige Lawrence and Rudi Swiegers finished in third with 168.11 points.

Sunday is the final day of the 2011 BMO Canadian Figure Skating Championships. The day begins with the free dance to conclude the ice dance competition, followed by the men’s free skate and then a special Skate Canada Hall of Fame presentation. The night will officially end with the gala exhibition which will showcase the gold, silver and bronze medallists from the senior disciplines and the junior champions.

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