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    Pj Kwong

    About Pj Kwong

    With more than 25 years of coaching experience, Pj Kwong is one of Canada's best known figure skating experts. She has worked with CBC Sports as a commentator and analyst since 2007.

Figure Skating

Pj Kwong - Monday Jan. 13, 2014 15:55

Dreams made, crushed at naming of Olympic figure skating team

17 skaters heading to Sochi named after national championships

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Kevin Reynolds, (bottom row, left to right) Patrick Chan and Gabrielle Daleman of Newmarket, Ont., are joined by teammates during the announcement of the Canadian Olympic Team in Ottawa on Sunday. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

Walking into the rink in Ottawa over the weekend for the 2014 Canadian National Skating Championships, I had more questions than answers. Skaters like Kevin Reynolds and Kaetlyn Osmond had been absent from view while dealing with equipment and injury issues respectively. How would they do?

Although not set in stone, one of the things that define the pre-Olympic nationals is anticipating which faces we won’t see this time next year and which faces will fill the void. Liam Firus is one of those faces whose second-place finish in the short, bronze medal overall and spot on the Olympic team indicates to me that this is simply the start of his journey.

For others in the men’s event, like seven-time national and three-time World champion Patrick Chan, the trip to Ottawa was another thing to cross off on an ever growing pre-Olympics to-do list. Kevin Reynolds showed that his two very different and equally expressive programs will have him up to the challenge at Sochi.

What can you say about amazing Canadian champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir except that they are as prepared as they can be for the Olympics? They have faith in their material and are confident in their training; everything else has to simply be left ‘in the lap of the gods.’

Silver medallists Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje continue to improve. The skaters have to do their part and let go of the rest. That is exactly what happened with bronze medallists Alexandra Paul and Mitchell Islam: they did their part and skated the best they could. The result? They’re going to the Olympics.

Kaetlyn Osmond looked to be in fighting form as she collected her second consecutive national title. There is a lot riding on this young woman who finished in eighth in 2013 at her debut at Worlds. With the eyes of the country watching, this can be a lot of pressure.

It takes a special kind of temperament to handle that kind of ‘do or die’ pressure and Gabrielle Daleman proved that she is that kind of skater. Daleman was in third behind Amelie Lacoste after the short and skated with such gusto that she claimed the silver medal and her spot on the Sochi 2014 team.

As I have come to expect over the last couple of years, the race between Canada’s two top teams is as close as it gets. Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford took their third title and broke a new national record score set by silver medallists Kirsten Moore-Towers and Dylan Moscovitch just moments before. Both teams could easily be considered as medal hopefuls for Sochi. They will be joined in Russia by bronze medallists Paige Lawrence and Rudi Swiegers.

Special thanks

The overall quality of skating was wonderful and somehow fitting at this 100th anniversary edition of the national champions. Making the Olympic team was the reason that the skaters were in Ottawa and there were some who poured everything they had into making that dream come true. Unfortunately for some it wasn’t going to be this time.

I want to thank the following skaters with an honourable mention for bringing their best to Ottawa and acknowledge that although they didn’t reach their goal, they honoured the tradition of the skaters who came before them by being prepared and not giving up: Amelie Lacoste, Elladj Balde, Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier, and Natasha Purich and Mervin Tran. That kind of perseverance in the face of difficult odds is awe-inspiring.

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