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March 18, 2016

Monday, January 14, 2002


Canada has very real shot at three figure skating medals as Winter Olympics draw near

By TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

 HAMILTON - Can Canada hit for the cycle in figure skating in Salt Lake?

 Can Canada win gold, silver and bronze at the Olympic Winter Games? Maybe even a couple of golds?

 History says there's no hope. But the Canadian Figure Skating Championships which concluded here yesterday suggested maybe, just maybe, there is.

 Canada, it will be well documented by the time world champions Jamie Sale & David Pelletier skate in Salt Lake, while having a whole host of world winners over the past, has only managed to put two on the podium at the Olympics, and you have to go back to 1960 and 1948 to find them.

 Canada only once before in history has come home with three medals, that being 1988 in Calgary when Liz Manley and Brian Orser both won silver and Tracy Wilson & Rob McCall won bronze. Only in 1960, when Barbara Wagner & Robert Paul won Canada's last Olympic gold and Don Jackson took home a bronze, has Canada won a gold and another medal in this sport.

 Can Canada meet or beat any of those combinations this time around?

 "Based on what we saw here, let's just say we're going to Salt Lake City with great expectations,'' said Marilyn Chidlow of Ponoka, the president of Skate Canada.

 Sale & Pelletier, despite their pedestrian performance here Friday night, are unbeaten in nine consecutive competitions and are unquestionably going to Salt Lake as gold medal favourites.

 Shae-Lynne Bourne & Victor Kraatz haven't lost all year but don't have a Canadian, American or British judge on the panel and have never been placed higher than third at a Worlds. But they had six more 6.0s in the free skate final here yesterday for a total of 15 perfect marks here this year.


 Elvis Stojko hadn't put two programs together since he won a World silver two years ago in Nice and didn't look like a serious medal contender until this weekend. But he did it here. And he goes to his fourth Olympics with hope.

 "With Elvis Saturday night I was crying,'' said Bourne. "It was great.''

 Whether anybody felt like crying watching her and Kraatz here yesterday, I'm not sure. But in the press room, a lot of people had trouble not laughing.

 You almost expected the arena announcer to say something like this: "Ladies and gentlemen, the marks for Shae-Lynn Bourne & Victor Kraatz, 6.0, 6.0, 6.0 ... Sorry. We've just had a ruling. Apparently they'll be required to skate first.''

 Saturday they had all nine 6.0s on the artistic line. In the free skate final they downgraded that to only six 6.0s.

 That's 15 on one weekend when the two had a combined career total of two before they hit here.

 "It's very encouraging,'' said Kraatz. "It delivers a message to the rest of the world that Canada is behind us.''


 Canadian judges, in the past, in all events, have been reluctant to put up 6.0s. It's possible that Bourne & Kraatz got more here on one weekend than the Canadian judges have given out in all of history.

 "If that's the case it would be very exciting to make history that way,'' said Bourne. "Two years ago, in the situation we were in, a lot of people would have just given up.

 "I think a lot of people were surprised when we won the ISU Grand Prix Final. I think a lot of people had given up on us. Even if they thought we were good enough, I think a lot of people came to think 'It just won't happen for them.' Now, I think a lot of people are going to be thinking `Maybe there's a chance.' ''

 This is a Canadian Olympic team completely without controversy, other than all those 6.0s in dance.

 Everybody got there fair and square. They were able to pick the team straight from the standings.

 There was one spot available in women's and Jennifer Robinson won it.

 Two were up for grabs in men's and Elvis Stojko and Emanuel Sandhu finished one-two.

 There were tickets for two dance duos to Salt Lake and Bourne & Kraatz and Marie-Francis Dubreuil & Patrice Lauzon, who finished second here, claimed them as expected here.

 In pairs, Sale & Pelletier's world win gave Canada three Olympic spots and David Dore and company decided to send the podium from here where Barrie, Ont.-based Jacinthe Larriviere & Lenny Faustino and Montreal's Anabelle Langlois & Patrick Archetto finished second and third.

 Those are the figure skaters who will carry Canada's colours to Salt Lake.

 And can they possibly consider anybody else than Elvis to carry the flag in the opening ceremonies?

2002 Games Columnists