Sports Short: Medals on Skates and Sleds
A Perfect 10: How’s this for a prize on Canadian ice: Win the first perfect 10 in the history of ice dancing. That’s what figure skaters Tessa Virtue (London, Ont.) and Scott Moir (Ilderton, Ont.) did Saturday in Kitchener en route to a gold medal at the Skate Canada Grand Prix event. Their performance was highlighted by the “goose” – where Virtue launches herself off Moir’s back unaided by him, supporting herself on her lower leg before flying into a single loop.
Also in ice dance, Canada showed its depth, as Waterloo-based pair Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje skated to the bronze medal on hometown ice. While Virtue and Moir are a virtual lock for the Olympic Team, Weaver and Poje are in a battle for the other Olympic berth.
Rochette on Target: The best part about Joannie Rochette’s gold medal at Skate Canada is that it by far was not her best performance. There were some wobbles in the Ile-Dupas, Quebec native’s routines, but she nailed a late triple loop to take gold. Quebec teammates Amelie Lacoste (Delson) and Cynthia Phaneuf (Contrecoeur) were sixth and seventh respectively.
A fourth figure skating medal came courtesy of pair Jessica Dubé (St-Cyrille-de-Wendover, Que.) and Bryce Davison (Huntsville, Ont.). They won bronze. Patrick Chan, Canada’s best men’s skater, finished sixth in his first competition since tearing a calf muscle. The Toronto native will now try and make up the two weeks he says he is behind in Olympic preparation.
Scream Marks Return of Groves: This speed skating season hadn’t gone according to plan for Kristina Groves. Two medals for this speedster – only one of which was individual, a bronze in 1,500 metres – was tame for one of Canada’s brightest stars. Perhaps that is why Groves, after winning gold on Sunday in the 1,500 metres, let fly a scream. It was a scream of relief to know her competitive fire is back and burning. The Ottawa native’s gold medal race in Hamar, Norway, was her fastest time ever in Europe in the 1,500 metres. Credit to coach Xiuli Wang, who after reviewing tape of her 2006 Olympic silver medals, pointed out how focused Groves’ eyes were – a different gear of determination.
Makowsky’s Moment: Regina’s Lucas Makowsky captured his first World Cup podium finish in Hamar, racing to the silver-medal spot in the 1,500 metres. His previous best finish in the event was eighth. He said stepping on the podium for the first time was “an incredible sensation.” What better season to do it in than an Olympic one. Another important moment came when Winnipeg’s Clara Hughes finished fourth in the 5,000 metres. With that, she qualifies for the Olympic pre-selection in that race. She had to finish in the top-six to confirm an Olympic berth.
Mighty Mellisa: Skeleton star Mellisa Hollingsworth won her fourth career World Cup gold medal on Friday in Lake Placid, N.Y. Nobody was faster than her in both runs. The Eckville, Alta. native won bronze at the first World Cup this year. Can she do what she did in 2006, win a medal in every World Cup and the Olympic Winter Games? Teammates Amy Gough (Abbotsford, B.C.) and Michelle Kelly (Fort St. John, B.C.) were sixth and seventh.
Close cousins in luge, Calgary’s Sam Edney shattered his career-best result on the men’s side, finishing fifth in Calgary. Teammate Jeff Christie secured ninth spot. On the women’s side, Alex Gough (Calgary) finished sixth.
Later in Lake Placid: Women’s bobsleigh pair Kaillie Humphries (Calgary) and Heather Myose (Summerside, P.E.I.) won bronze Saturday in Lake Placid, N.Y. on one of the world’s toughest tracks. They were powered, as usual, by very strong starts. Calgary’s Helen Upperton and Shelley-Ann Brown (Pickering, Ont.) were sixth, three back of their teammates. On the men’s side, Edmonton duo Pierre Lueders and David Bissett finished fourth. Lyndon Rush (Humboldt, Sask.) and Lascelles Brown (Calgary) were seventh.
On Sunday, both Canadian four-man bobleds reached the top-10 with Rush’s team finishing seventh and Lueders’ team ninth.
Babikov Cracks Top-30: Ivan Babikov, a Russian-born skier who suits up for Canada and lives in Canmore, Alta., was 28th in the 15 km ski-skate race in Beitostoelen, Norway. The next best cross-country teammates were Devon Kershaw (Sudbury, Ont.) at 37th and Alex Harvey (St-Ferreol-les-Neiges, Que.) at 43rd.