After the completion of the Canadian Figure Skating Championships, there is little doubt which competitors are the best in each class. The only question is who can continue their success at the international level.
Skate Canada recently announced the full team that will be headed to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. The group features two individual ladies, three individual men and three pairs for both figure skating and ice dance.
While all 17 athletes will hope to come away with an Olympic medal, only a few will be true competitors. Here is a look at Canada's best shot for medals, not counting the team competition.
Patrick Chan, Men's Singles
There was little doubt as to who would win the national championship in the men's event. With a score of 277.42, Patrick Chan defeated his next closest competitor by just fewer than 35 points.
As CP24 points out, Chan has won quite of few of these titles:
Patrick Chan has won his seventh consecutive Canadian men's figure skating title.— CP24 (@CP24) January 12, 2014
Additionally, he has won the last three world championships despite being only 23 years old; however, he fell short at the 2010 Olympics and only managed a fifth-place finish.
Obviously, he is hoping for a better finish this time around.
In his January 3 article, Jonathan Gatehouse of Maclean's quoted Chan, who simply has to worry about calming down in the big moment.
I’ll picture myself at the rink in Detroit. I’ll stand in the exact same spot on the ice and face the same direction. And I’ll think of the one place I look when I’m training—some metal scaffolding for the stairs and bleachers beyond the glass and the barrier in the rink That’s my cue to say, ‘Okay, this is just like what I do every day.’ And I’ll think about my friends who sometimes watch me and how they clap along the way. I’ll think about how good that makes me feel. It’s a comfort zone. It’s like your blankie.
Of course, having a plan and executing it are different things. Still, there are few competitors who can beat Chan when he is at his best. If he can come out and perform to his peak ability, he should be able to bring a gold medal home to Canada.
Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, Ice Dance
As the reigning Olympic gold medalists, there is no question of whether Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir have the ability to win. They only have to show that they are capable of doing it again.
Skate Canada provided an image of the pair winning their sixth Canadian title:
They received a tough challenge from Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje, but an excellent free dance was enough to pull away on the final day of competition. The good news for Canada is that the runners-up will be headed to Sochi as well.
Still, Virtue and Moir are better suited to compete at a high level after winning the Olympics and multiple World Championships. They have great chemistry on the ice, and it leads to almost flawless performances nearly every time out.
As long as they perform to their peak ability, it is hard to imagine them not at least finishing on the podium. If all goes well, another gold should be in their future.
Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford, Pairs
While Kaetlyn Osmond has proven to be a talented up-and-comer in the sport, the ladies' event is simply too deep, and it will be extremely tough to just finish near the top of the standings.
On the other hand, Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford have the ability to sneak into the top three at Sochi. Despite some tough competition from Germany's Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy, Russia's Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov and even Canadian rivals Kirsten Moore-Towers and Dylan Moscovitch, this pair can go far.
Duhamel and Radford utilize a great deal of technical content in their work, which the judges love. The key is to make sure each move is perfectly landed in order to keep the score as high as possible.
According to audio from CBC News, Radford said he still can't believe he's headed to Sochi.
"It's a dream come true. I got to see it happen to other people before, and I was aching with jealousy those last times. And now it's me up there."
Radford said he and Duhamel have a "great shot" at making the podium in Sochi, if they can skate the way they did at the national championships.
"When we got together four years ago we were just hoping to squeak in and make the Olympic team and now we're getting to go to the Olympics as three-time Canadian champions."
His confidence could lead to a high score if he and Duhamel compete the way they did at the Canadian nationals.
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