OSHAWA, ONTARIO — New champions were crowded at the 2023 Canadian Tire National Championships, Jan. 13-14 in Oshawa, Ontario. In the women’s and men’s event – it was repeat champions, but in the pairs and dance disciplines, new faces rose to the top of the podium.
The 19-year-old of Oakville, Ontario opened her program with a triple Lutz-triple toe combination. She received negative GOEs on her triple Salchow and triple loop. She earned a free skate score of 128.15, which was second in the free skate. She earned a total score of 196.47, which was enough to win the women’s event.
“I did not think I was going to be a two-time Canadian champion,” she said. “If you told me in 2020 or when I was a kid what was going to happen in 2023, I would have laughed at you. It’s pretty surreal. I’m just a little in shock.”
The winner of the free skate was 16-year-old Kaiya Ruiter, of Calgary. The 2020 Canadian Junior Champion was appearing in her first Canadian championships since winning the title. The event also marked her senior nationals debut. Ruiter completed seven triples and two double Axels in her free skate, which earned a score of 129.82. Her free skate helped her climb from sixth after the short program to finish in second place and win the silver medal with a score of 189.36.
“I’m over the moon excited about it (my free skate),” Ruiter told Figure Skaters Online after her skate. “It was my personal best honestly. My dream was to skate like that. So I got to do it in front of this crowd, this arena and my family and everybody, it just meant the world to me.”
Fiona Bombardier, the daughter of two-time Olympian and three-time Canadian champion Josee Chouinard and two-time Canadian pairs champion Jean-Michel Bombardier, struggled with her double Axels in her free skate. The soon-to-be 18-year-old of Newmarket, Ontario still managed to hold onto to her third place position to win the bronze medal.
“I was really excited with the way I skated,” she said. “Of course I made two little mistakes on my double Axels, but I’m going to keep training and make sure that doesn’t happen again.”
Bombardier is not able to compete at the Four Continents Championships as she has not had a senior international competition assignment to earn the ISU minimum technical scores. So, joining Schizas at Four Continents will be Sara-Maude Dupuis, who finished in fourth place and Justine Miclette, who finished in sixth place.
Finishing in fifth place was Lia Pereira, who was in second after the short program. Pereira also competed in the pairs’ event with Trennt Michaud.
Keegan Messing won his second Canadian title in what was his final Canadian Nationals. The 30-year-old from Girdwood, Alaska announced earlier this season that this would be his final competitive season.
Messing had a 8 point lead heading into the free skate. After opening his free skate with a quad toe, he fell on a second quad toe and a triple loop. He did land two triple Axels, along with triple Lutz-triple toe combination. He finished the free skate in second place with a score of 163.38. However, he was still able to win the men’s event with a total score of 257.78.
‘’I couldn’t have ended it on a better note,’’ said Messing. ‘’I could hang up my skates right now and be happy forever.’’
Messing left Canadians following the men’s event as his wife, Lane, is expecting their second child any day now.
Skate Canada has named Messing to the Four Continents Championships in Colorado Springs in February and the World Championships in Japan in March.
Conrad Orzel, second after the short program, held onto the silver medal position to win his first Canadian senior medal.
In his free skate, the 22-year-old from Ontario attempted seven triple jumps. He hung onto his quad-toe-triple-toe combination and stepped out of his triple Axel. He finished with a free skate score of 151.30 (which was fourth in the free skate) and a total score of 237.46.
He will compete at the Four Continents Championships in Colorado Springs.
After a difficult short program that left him in 11th place, Wesley Chiu moved up to claim his second consecutive bronze medal. The 17-year-old from Vancouver attempted two quad toes – falling on one in the second half of the program, but successfully completely one in combination with a triple toe earlier in the program. He finished with a free skate score of 160.71 (third in the free skate) and a total score of 226.15.
Chiu will compete at the 2023 World Junior Championships with Aleksa Rakic and Edward Nicholas Vasii.
The 2019 Canadian silver medalist Stephen Gogolev also struggled in his short program. He received no credit for two of his jumping passes and also fell on a quad toe. He was in 17th place heading into the free skate. In the free skate, the 18-year-old from Toronto, Ontario, cleanly landed three quadruple jumps, along with five triple jumps. He earned the highest free skate score of the men’s event (170.16) and moved up 13 positions to finish just off the podium in 4th place. Gogolev will compete at the Four Continents Championships.
2022 Olympian Roman Sadovsky, who was in 13th place after the short program, finished in 8th overall after a fifth-place free skate.
Skate Canada still has to determine who will compete with Messing at the World Championships. It will mostly be between Gogolev and Orzel and how well they compete at Four Continents to determine that second spot.
In 1999, Deanna Stellato-Dudek won the U.S. novice title at 15 years old. Now 24-years later at the age of 39, Stellato-Dudek is back on top of podium, winning her first senior title, with Canadian pairs skater Maxime Deschamps.
Stellato-Dudek and Deschamps had an almost seven point lead after the short program. In the free skate, they executed side-by-side triple-toe double-toe combination and double salchow. Stellato-Dudek fell on the throw triple flip and two-footed throw triple loop. They earned a free skate score of 125.98 and a total score of 199.18 to win the gold medal.
Stellato-Dudek has been batting a virus for eight weeks now.
‘’I wasn’t 100 percent and I’ve never felt like this for an event,’’ she said in a hoarse voice. ‘’It was hard but I feel OK, I was in the moment. We knew the door was open for us to get that title. I really wanted to get that gold for Maxime who’s competed at 10 nationals.’’
Stellato-Dudek and Deschamps will compete at the Four Continents Championships and World Championships.
2022 Canadian Junior Champion Brooke McIntosh and Benjamin Mimar won the silver medal in their senior nationals debut. In their free skate, like Stellato-Dudek and Descamps, they executed side-by-side triple-toe-double toe combination and double salchow. The only mistake was McIntosh stepped out of the throw triple Lutz. The 18-year-old from Toronto and 22-year-old from Laval, Quebec earned a free skate score of 120.59 and a total score of 187.26.
Just a few hours after competing in the women’s event, Lia Pereira had to put her skates back on to compete in the pairs’ event with partner, Trennt Michaud, who she teamed up with this season. Pereira was looking to be the first Canadian woman to win a medal in two disciplines since Cynthina Coull medaled in women and pairs in 1983, 1984 and 1985. Unfortunately, she dropped from second place in the women’s event to finish fifth overall.
But while she didn’t medal in the women’s event, Pereira did take home a medal, winning bronze with Michaud. In fourth place after the short program, Pereira and Michaud earned a 111.93 in the free skate and a total score of 176.53.
Pereira and Michaud will compete at the Four Continents Championships and the World Championships.
With the absence of Canadian champions Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier, there was a new champion in the dance. Laurence Fournier Beaudry and Nikolaj Soerensen won the dance event. Read more about the dance event at Ice-Dance.com.