Liam Firus, a 21-year-old Vancouverite with an enviable slip across the ice, can see an opportunity: one of those three Olympic spots that Canada has earned for men.
He wants to seize that opportunity. The trouble is, Firus has had more bumps on the road to Sochi than most.
Last year, Firus had the skate of a lifetime in the short program at the Canadian championships when he landed his first triple Axel in competition and finished third in a stacked field. He surprised himself, because he had been battling a groin injury in the weeks leading up to the event. The skate of a lifetime doesn't usually happen after such impediments. And it was a painful injury, too. He had endured six tortuous injections of a sugar solution into his injury, meant to inflame the site, bring blood to a bloodless area and help the healing.
He and coach Lorna Bauer had considered withdrawing from the Canadian championships, but only the Sunday before the event, they decided to go. And because Firus really wasn't trained, the long program slipped out of his control and he dipped to fifth overall. It was still his best finish at the senior national level.
His problems weren't over, by any means, when he went home. He immediately set to work with choreographer Mark Pillay to design two new programs for the Olympic season and then he didn't set foot on an ice surface for months.
He got six more injections, a week apart. He went to physiotherapy three to four times a week. His life revolved around rehabilitation. He didn't get back onto the ice again until June. "It was tough," he said. With the Olympics coming, he wanted to train like a fiend, but he knew that wasn't smart. "I knew that if my groin was bothering me while I was training for the Olympics, I don't think I would have a shot," he said. "It was just so painful and so mentally hard, too."
So restrain himself, he did. He didn't start jumping again until late July, and that didn't mean full-out triple Axels. It meant doing doubles, half a year before the Sochi Olympics. By the middle of August, he slowly introduced triples back into the mix. By the beginning of September, he was finally doing full programs. With five months to the Olympics, his training finally began in earnest.
He decided to step things up, by leaving Vancouver to train full time in Colorado Springs with Christy Krall, Damon Allen and Eric Shultz, coaches he'd visited sporadically for four or five years. It meant leaving his first and only coach, Lorna Bauer, behind.
Visit Skate Canada to read the rest of this story.