My close friends know that I am equally enthralled with tennis as I am with figure skating. Hell, even my mother knows this. Ever since elementary school when I remember catching a glimpse of Josee Chouinard stealing practice ice at Ed Sackfield arena in 1994. You couldn’t pull me away from the television during the Lillehammer Olympics where I skated along with Elvis Stojko, native to my hometown, Richmond Hill, win his first Olympic Silver medal. It was at the World Championships that my Michelle Kwan fascination began. She peaked my interest in 1994, but it would be 1995 when I really cared about what would her future hold after a stunning performance at the Worlds that year. She would become the most decorated skater of my era without that elusive Olympic gold medal. Bottom line, my love for skating is second to only tennis.
That’s what made this weekend so special. I had the chance to take in the Mens and Ladies free programs Skate Canada with my partner, Michael. We both love skating and took my mother out to Stars on Ice for her birthday back in May. I had never been to Kitchener before, rather I’ve always sped through it en route to Detroit for a tennis tournament. Skating like tennis is more intense live. During summer ’08, Rich and I managed to take in Rogers Cup – we watched Nadal decimate Andreev in the final. With every step you could feel the earth quake as he prepared his next shot. I was close enough to hear the blades cut the ice. Many lutzes were landed, flutzed and popped in our corner. We sat near a the officials, the Japanese press and some elderly ladies who charmed me by telling me that I had “wicked eyes”. I was looking forward to meeting Patrick Chan, our national champion. Chan-mania swept the arena; folks flocked to see him and there were banner everywhere with Patrick’s likeness – ‘Chantastic, Chantom of the Ice’. I was surprised to not find ‘Go for Gold in Chancouver’. Saturday proved not to be his night, but he was charming and brought a difficult program to the table during this Olympic season. With some polish, this could very well be a podium worthy program. I thoroughly enjoyed the men’s event – Abbott was great and Takahashi was nipping at his heels. Following the medals ceremony, the entire arena flocked to the concession stands whereas Michael and I managed to walk around the arena for a bit, only to connect with Patrick Chan himself and grab a photo. This made my night. I apologize to the 4 year old screaming girls I pushed to get this photo, but I had to seize the opportunity to meet a future olympican.
The women’s event had one or two more spills than the men’s. Nancy Wilson said it was the best skated short program of the entire series, but the long failed to live up to that standard. I loved Amelie Lacoste’s power, Caroline Zhang’s music and Joannie Rochette’s overall schtick. I’m glad I got to see Joannie perform live – she is even more graceful in person and appears to be faster as well. I’m glad that she won and I wish her all the best at Nationals and at the Grand Prix Final.
Great weekend overall – couldn’t have asked for a better memory of my first time at a figure skating competition.
More photos on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=126715&id=509597487&l=8336c43456