OTTAWA - Qualifying for Canada's Olympic Skating Team takes place this weekend at The Canadian Tire National Skating Championships in Ottawa
This is not just another national championships. It is the chance of a lifetime to make the Canadian Olympic Team and it's a celebration of 100 years of the Canadian Championships. Canadian skating is celebrating its past at these Championships and also its future, as based on stellar results, Canada has qualified to send the largest skating team to Sochi.
This is about Canadian skaters continuing to break new ground at home and on the international stage. Patrick Chan is on the verge, he hopes, of being the first Canadian man to win Olympic Gold. He has treated us in the past to superb performances at nationals, en route to his World Championship wins. In light of his performances this season, we can expect nothing less of him here. Saving and peaking are words not in his vocabulary. He will no doubt hold nothing back as he goes after his 7th Canadian title.
This is about what is believed to be a Canadian farewell to Olympic Champions and ice dance legends Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, who unless we can convince them otherwise, will leave competitive skating after the Games. They have been building throughout this season and are looking stronger and fitter, more refined and in tune each time out. They will look at their performance here as a gift to themselves to be able to perform their Olympic programs in front of their Canadian fans while in peak condition. They will likely be soaking it all in and storing it to memory so that it can be looked back on fondly down the road. So too I bet, will the audiences.
This is a welcome back to the nationals for six-time Canadian Medalists Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje. Kaitlyn was injured last year in practice a month before nationals and so was unable to compete. Her injury, a broken fibula, was so severe the doctors even ruled out the possibility of competing at Worlds last March. Three months to the day after the accident and after methodically and relentlessly working through the pain of rehab, Kaitlyn and Andrew competed and finished 5th at The World Championships and once again showed us how they can grow stronger and more resilient through adversity. Injury free and at the top of their game, they hope that they will put up the kind of numbers here that are worthy of podium contention in Sochi.
This is about two rival pair teams continuing the rich tradition of Canadian pairs as they duke it out once again for the Canadian title. Kirsten Moore-Towers and Dylan Moscovitch were Canadian Champs in 2011, Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford in 2012. Last year in the closest of contests Meagan and Eric defended their title, beating Kirsten and Dylan by less than a point in the short and just over a point in the long. It was one of those events where when it's over you literally sit back in your seat and think, "Wow! What a fight!" At last year's World Championships, the edge once again went to Meagan and Eric who finished third and just one spot ahead of Kirsten and Dylan. Both teams have the same goals, Canadian title and Olympic medal. As teams, they can't get much closer. As a competition, it doesn't get much better.
And then there are the unknowns. Kevin Reynolds, the quad king, who had a break-out season last year finishing 5th in the world, has not competed this year due to boot problems. There are seven guys going after three spots. Patrick's got one of those spots and Kevin certainly has the credentials to earn the second, but he will be pressured in this, his first competition of the season. Canadian ladies champion Kaetlyn Osmond is feeling the same kind of heat as hers has been a season of untimely injuries which have cost her valuable training time. Six women fighting for two spots. Kaetlyn has posted by far the best scores to date, but she will contend with a Canadian Champion and some young and feisty up-and-comers and so will have to be on her toes, so to speak.
This is about dreams coming true and bitter disappointments. About your last four years being defined by the next four minutes. About becoming a champion, a medalist, an Olympic team member or going down trying. As Roosevelt said in The Man in the Arena, "His place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat."
This is the 100-year anniversary of the Canadian Skating Championships. The tradition continues.