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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 - Friday Jan. 10, 2014 09:23

Figure skating nationals last chance to make Olympic team

Who will fill the remaining slots?

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There are remaining slots for Canada's Olympic team in all four disciplines. Who will make the cut? (Getty Images)

For many of the skaters competing at the national figure skating championships in Ottawa this weekend the stakes are as high as they can get. The Olympic team will be named this coming Sunday and although there are recognizable names that will undoubtedly be headed to Sochi, there are spots that will be needed to be filled across all four disciplines.

It will make for very exciting competition.

Men

Three-time world champion Patrick Chan will be on hand. Chan is headed for his seventh consecutive national title and will head the three men qualified for Sochi. Kevin Reynolds has won Canada’s national silver medal for the last two years, took the 2013 ISU Four Continents title just prior to finishing in an impressive fifth place at the 2013 Worlds. So far this season he hasn’t competed because of equipment issues. I am as interested as anyone to see the progress he’s made and see him as the likely silver medallist in Ottawa.

For the remaining Olympic spot there are a handful of men up to the challenge: Elladj Balde, Liam Firus, Andrei Rogozine, Nam Nguyen and Jeremy Ten. This race is too close to call. All these men are talented and it will come down to who can lay down the best two performances on the weekend.

Ice dance

Two of the three Olympic berths in ice dance will undoubtedly be filled by two-time world and defending Olympic champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, and fellow Olympic medal contenders Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje. The horse race for third will be as exciting as anything, between Alexandra Paul and Mitchell Islam, Kharis Ralph and Asher Hill, Nicole Orford and Thomas Williams, and Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier. As with the men, these are all talented teams and they are in a race that is too close to call.

Pairs

The first two pair teams in the three team delegation will be Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford, and their fierce rivals Kirsten Moore-Towers and Dylan Moscovitch. Both teams earned silver and bronze medals at Grand Prix events this season. Both competed at the Grand Prix Final, where Duhamel and Radford finished fifth, one spot ahead of Moore-Towers and Moscovitch. Two-time and defending national champions Duhamel and Radford have the edge, on paper at least, to Moore-Tower and Moscovitch’s single national title.

For the last three nationals, Paige Lawrence and Rudi Swiegers have taken the bronze medal and seem the logical choice for the third Olympic spot. Look for 2013 Junior World silver medallists Margaret Purdy and Michael Marinaro to pull out all the stops in an effort to turn the tide their way.

Ladies

At the beginning of the season, it would have been a no-brainer to think that Canadian champion Kaetlyn Osmond would be on her way to her first Olympic Games. After all, she finished eighth at Worlds in 2013, her senior debut season. A hamstring injury kept Osmond from skating the free at this season’s Skate Canada and forced her withdrawal from Cup of Russia, too. She rallied to take the nationals’ qualifying Skate Canada Challenge but only by winning the free after a fifth place finish in the short. Osmond’s readiness is still a bit of a question mark.

Gabrielle Daleman was the young woman who dominated in the Challenge short program only to finish second overall to Osmond. Daleman was the 2013 national silver medallist and is as fierce a competitor as could be. There is something to be said for that kind of hunger.

It has to be noted that 2012 champion Amelie Lacoste has undergone a bit of a transformation in an effort to regain her position in the Canadian ladies’ ranks. Finishing in fourth place at last year’s nationals, Lacoste has since relocated to Colorado to train under coach and technical whiz Christy Krall. The positive changes are already showing in her competitive performances if not her results just yet. Lacoste could be the dark horse in Ottawa.

2012 national bronze medallist Alaine Chartrand along with Veronik Maillet and Julianne Seguin are among the other women to be considered for one of the two Olympic spots.

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