Analysis Canadian figure skaters leave lasting legacy in Pyeongchang

Canada's coaching will be key for future success

Canadian figure skaters leave lasting legacy in Pyeongchang
From left to right: Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford, Kaetlyn Osmond, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir gave Canadian figure skating an Olympics to remember. © Canadian Press
By Pj Kwong

The amazing moments for Canadian skating just kept coming in Pyeongchang over the course of the last two weeks. In an unprecedented showing at the Winter Games, Canadians brought home medals in four of the five events, including two gold and two bronze.

The competition began with the figure skating team event. By the time the dancers took the ice for their free skate, Canada's lead was enough that it didn't matter how Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir performed; a gold medal was going to be the outcome.

Virtue and Moir were the picture of perfection as they brought home a gold medal in individual ice dance. It was by no means a foregone conclusion that they would walk out on top; in fact, they won the event by a margin of less than one point. Regardless, three gold and two silver medals over three Games confirm they are the most successful Olympic ice dance team of all-time.

Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford aren't afraid to put themselves on the line by saying ahead of the event what they are planning to do. They were looking for four strong programs and an individual pairs Olympic medal to add to the team gold. Mission accomplished.

Kaetlyn Osmond's approach was smart. She skated a great short program, which put her in line for a medal. She then followed it up with the strongest free skate she has had all season. Osmond's strategy was to do what she does so beautifully: speed, soaring jumps and the ability to express her nuanced Black Swan program. It was glorious. Osmond's bronze medal in the individual event was the perfect addition to her team gold.

Aside from the performances, what struck me was the sense of family surrounding Team Canada. The skaters were in the stands, ready to support one another. I loved the way this 17-person team — six were Olympic newbies — were able to find their place. It would have been easy for every skater to take a selfish approach but that wasn't the case. The spirit of camaraderie is one of the things that define this team, and one of the key elements that need to be brought forward into the future.

Real legacy

The real legacy from these Games is what Canada's coaches and choreographers bring to the table. The skaters didn't achieve the success on their own. What this means for the future of Canadian skating is everything. If I were a young parent watching the Games back in Canada, I would feel a certain confidence about putting my child in this sport. Clearly, the coaches know how to guide their students where they need to go.

Seeing Canadian athletes on the podium in Pyeongchang drives home the point that this success is built on a lifetime of work. In an individual sport like figure skating, you can't replicate the athletes. We just don't know who is around the corner, which is why having experienced and knowledgeable coaches in the country identify and work with young talent is key.

In the case of ice dance, there will never be another Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, but there will always be their coaches Marie-France Dubreuil and Patrice Lauzon, to guide and coach other teams. I use Dubreuil and Lauzon as an example, but there are so many others. The coaches are a Canadian success story in the making, all on their own. The continuity is in the coaching and what I am banking on for future success.

Talk about a lasting legacy.