GP Final a glimpse at the future
VANCOUVER — Several of the country’s marquee figure skaters have stepped away from competition, but Skate Canada’s high performance director says a talented crop of athletes has emerged in their absence.
“We had a very extraordinary group that was with us for a long time,” Mike Slipchuk said Friday at the Grand Prix Final in Vancouver, where just one Canadian (Keegan Messing) qualified for the senior competition.
“But we’re happy with what we see with our seniors and we have a lot of good juniors coming up. We know the future will be bright.”
Patrick Chan and the pairs team of Eric Radford and Meagan Duhamel retired this year after putting in strong performances with the Canadian squad that brought home two gold and two bronze medals from February’s Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Gold medal-winning ice dancers Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir have also stepped away.
Others, including reigning world champion Kaetlyn Osmond, have opted to take time off following the Olympic success.
The successful Canadian skaters have all played a crucial role in the nurturing of the up-and-coming group of athletes, Slipchuk said.
“What those skaters did is they allowed this group underneath them to develop and have the time to grow and develop and be ready to step forward,” he said.
Thirteen-year-old Stephen Gogolev has burst on to the junior scene in his first year of eligibility for the Grand Prix circuit. He sat in second following the men’s short program Thursday.
Junior ice dancers Marjorie Lajoie and Zachary Lagha were in fourth place after their short.
“They skate like seniors,” Slipchuk said. “There’ll be ups and downs, but we’re looking forward to a bright future for all three.” Moguls Ruka, Finland, has been the site of some of the biggest moments of Mikael Kingsbury's accomplished career. It's where the Canadian freestyle skiing star made his first career trip to the World Cup podium, winning silver in 2011. Four years later he earned his record 29th career World Cup gold medal at Ruka, passing French legend Edgar Grospiron. And Friday Kingsbury earned a landmark 50th World Cup win on the slope to open the new season. But for the reigning Olympic champion, 26, milestones are less important than executing in the moment. “I never had in the back of my mind, not even once, that it could have been my 50th today,” he said. “The goal was just to ski at my best. And when I'm at my best, I know I'm very tough to beat.” Benjamin Cavet gave it his best shot with a score of 86.45 in the super final Friday. Kingsbury, skiing last, beat the Frenchman easily. “I was thinking about my strategy, and the
goal was to do ... the same run he did,” said Kingsbury, who scored 88.14. “But I felt so confident in my back full (back flip with full twist) and I knew I could push the speed faster than him and beat him in technique in the bumps. So I just went with the run I had planned in my head and was able to execute exactly what I wanted to do.” Luge
Alex Gough will have a farewell slide on her home track Saturday when Canada's most decorated luger announces her retirement. The 31-year-old was the first Canadian to win an Olympic medal in luge when she claimed bronze in women's singles in February in Pyeongchang, South Korea. That Games breakthrough preceded another two days later when Gough, Sam Edney, Justin Snith and Tristan Walker won silver in the team relay. Gough, who was married in 2016 and is in her third year of civil engineering studies at the University of Calgary, hasn't raced this season. She will
make her retirement run prior to Saturday's women's competition at a World Cup in Calgary. “I'm just diving into everything that's coming next for me and I've been busy all summer, busy this fall,” Gough said. “I'm pretty at peace with the decisions that I made.” On Friday, Austria's Wolfgang Kindl won his second straight World Cup men's gold in Canada. Kindl, a winner in Whistler, B.C., last week, posted a two-run time of 1:29.249. Speed skating
Canada captured bronze in women's team pursuit in Poland on Friday at a World Cup speed skating event. Ivanie Blondin, Isabelle Weidemann and Keri Morrison finished behind gold medal-winning Japan and Russia, the second podium finish of the season for the Canadians, who brought home silver from the last World Cup in Tomakomai, Japan. Canada's men's team pursuit squad of Ted-Jan Bloemen, Jordan Belchos and Antoine Gelinas-Beaulieu finished fourth Friday.
Cassie Sharpe of Canada flies down the course in the World Cup halfpipe final in Copper Mountain, Colo., on Friday. Sharpe finished second with a score of 90.50 to earn her best result at Copper Mountain, a venue that she has called her “nemesis.” Kelly Sildaru of Estonia finished first with 93.00. “I’m really excited to start the season off with a podium. It was a good contest and it was really fun to have (Sildaru) there and put some fire under the skis,” said Sharpe, who won gold in halfpipe at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics.