Dale­man books ticket to Win­ter Games and sets a Canadian na­tional record ... Os­mond sec­ond-place fin­ish pro­vides mo­ti­va­tion ... Per­fect end­ing for Virtue and Moir

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VAN­COU­VER — It

Gabrielle Dale­man was,

said, some kind of birth­day present.

On the day she turned 20, and en­ter­ing the free skate por­tion of the Na­tional Skat­ing Cham­pi­onships in first place, a spot­less rou­tine gave Dale­man a Canadian ti­tle, and a lot of mo­men­tum head­ing to Pyeongchang 2018.

A for­mer Canadian champ who this year had emer­gency ab­dom­i­nal surgery, a lengthy re­cov­ery, and was fight­ing pneu­mo­nia symp­toms this week, Dale­man still put down a Canadian record score of 229.78. Her long pro­gram also set a na­tional record at 151.90. The to­tal score is the sec­ond-high­est recorded in women’s sin­gles this year, and was more than enough to

Kaet­lyn Os­mond de­throne of Sher­wood Park, Alta.

Os­mond had two stum­bles in her free skate, but the world sil­ver medallist still did more than enough to se­cure her spot on the Canadian Olympic team. She and Dale­man

Larkyn will be joined by Aust­man

of Co­quit­lam, B.C., who fin­ished in third place.

Dale­man said she couldn’t be more proud of her per­for­mance in Van­cou­ver af­ter such a dif­fi­cult year, which in­cluded go­ing pub­lic about bul­ly­ing she suf­fered in her days at school.

“I said yes­ter­day, that’s the way to end 19, and what I said today was this is the way to start 20. It was the best birth­day present I could ever ask for,” she said, a beam­ing smile on her face and a five-ring pen­dant hang­ing from a neck­lace.

As Dale­man was talk­ing to the me­dia, Os­mond walked by in the back­ground and shouted out her con­grat­u­la­tions. Dale­man of­fered her the same and then said that com­ing into na­tion­als, know­ing she would go up against Os­mond helped mo­ti­vate her.

“You’re com­pet­ing against num­ber two in the world,” said Dale­man, who her­self won bronze be­hind Os­mond at the worlds last year. “This means the ab­so­lute world to me go­ing into an Olympic year.”

Dale­man said she still felt sick overnight and had trou­ble sleep­ing, but af­ter an early-morn­ing call for hair and makeup, she was ex­cited by the packed house at the Doug Mitchell Thun­der­bird Sports Cen­tre at the UBC cam­pus.

“You could feel the en­ergy, you could feel the sup­port,” she said.

Dale­man said she has felt that sup­port this week, af­ter open­ing up about the bul­ly­ing in her past.

“I’m not ashamed any­more,” she said.

Her pro­gram set to Rhap­sody in Blue in­cluded three com­bi­na­tion triple jumps and sev­eral other triples. Dale­man de­cided to re­turn to that pro­gram for na­tion­als af­ter start­ing the com­pet­i­tive sea­son with a dif­fer­ent free skate, say­ing she felt that Rhap­sody was her Olympic pro­gram. On Satur­day, it cer­tainly looked like one.

OS­MOND FALLS SHORT

Os­mond’s long rou­tine, which in­cluded a stum­ble on one triple jump at­tempt and a fall on an­other, would have been good enough for a Canadian ti­tle in many other years. She said she was pleased over­all with the qual­ity of the Black Swan pro­gram, de­spite the mis­takes.

“They are silly mis­takes, ones I don’t usu­ally make,” Os­mond said, with a tight smile. Oth­er­wise, she said, “It was prob­a­bly my strong­est pro­gram of the year.

If she skates that kind of pro­gram in Pyeongchang, with­out the slip-ups, Os­mond will have a shot at the podium.

“Hope­fully the frus­tra­tion I feel here will mo­ti­vate me for the next month,” she said.

GO­ING OUT ON TOP

In lock­ing down their eighth Canadian ice-dance ti­tle, the only mis­take from Tessa Virtue Scott

and Moir

came af­ter it was over, when Moir stum­bled as the pair skated off the ice.

“Some­times af­ter you bow, you kind of for­get how to skate,” Moir said, adding that they were a lit­tle caught up in the mo­ment in what is ex­pected to be their fi­nal com­pet­i­tive sea­son.

“It was a big mo­ment for Tessa and I, we feel like we’ve got­ten a lot of sup­port from Canadian fans, and we prob­a­bly won’t be back on this stage again, so we wanted to make sure we had great per­for­mances,” Moir said.

The pair said they are pleased with the de­vel­op­ment of their free-skate, which is set to a med­ley from the film Moulin Rouge and is de­cid­edly risqué — one lift ends with Virtue’s sen­si­tive lady parts in close prox­im­ity to Moir’s face.

They al­lowed that it is in­ten­tion­ally edgy, and that they wanted to give this pro­gram a dif­fer­ent mood, a “sex­u­al­ity,” and a “con­tem­po­rary feel­ing” to it.

Although the au­di­ence at the UBC leaned to­ward an older de­mo­graphic, there was no doubt af­ter the per­for­mance that it ap­proved.

WEAVER, POJE RALLY

When the ice-dance pair of Kait­lyn Weaver An­drew

and Poje

took the ice on Satur­day, they were look­ing to re­deem a Fri­day short pro­gram that in­cluded a Poje fall that left them in fourth place. Dur­ing their warmup, the au­di­ence gave them a loud, swelling cheer.

“That’s some­thing that’s go­ing to stick with us for­ever,” Poje said af­ter they rode that high to a clean free skate that vaulted them back into third place and on to the Canadian Olympic team.

“It felt like they wanted us to suc­ceed. It’s not nor­mally like that,” Weaver said. “We are so grate­ful be­cause it just brought us to a won­der­ful place.”

De­spite hav­ing no mar­gin for er­ror if they wanted to go to Pyeongchang, Weaver said they ap­proached the long pro­gram like they had noth­ing to lose. “We just wanted to show peo­ple what we train,” she said. “That was where the pres­sure was, it was to­tally in­trin­sic.”

Weaver/Poje will be joined on the Olympic team by Virtue/Moir and the pair­ing

Piper Gilles of and Paul Poirier,

who fin­ished in sec­ond place af­ter a clean free skate of their own.

THE CANADIAN PRESS

Gabrielle Dale­man per­forms her free pro­gram dur­ing the women’s com­pe­ti­tion at the Canadian fig­ure skat­ing cham­pi­onships in Van­cou­ver yes­ter­day. In­set, Kaet­lyn Os­mond fin­ished sec­ond.

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