Category: Skating

Montreal Trip of a Lifetime – World Figure Skating Championships

By , March 26, 2024 4:43 pm

Pairs were first up! All the pressure was on Canadians Deanna Stellato-Dudek (age 40, yes, you read that correctly!) and Maxime Deschamps, who live and train in Montreal. They had two great skates. Their fellow Canadians Lea Pereira and Trennt Michaud and Kelly Ann Laurin and Loucas Ethier also had great short programs! The crowd went crazy. I had my “Go Canada” sign at the ready. The other two Canadian pairs didn’t have the greatest free programs but still did well. I didn’t take any pictures of Deanna and Max’s free program because it was just too tense and exciting an atmosphere. The Japanese pair of Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara (who train in Oakville) put up a great defense of their gold medal from last year despite not skating most of this season. Unbelievable excitement in the final flight. Go Canada!!!

I was really there for the ice dance!!! The rhythm dance with its 80s theme was very exciting and loud. Since it was almost a home competition for so many (the Canadians plus the 13 teams that train in Montreal) the crowd was immense and intense! I didn’t take pictures of everything – just too much excitement – but here are some highlights. I have so many teams I love, but Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier are of course my MOST favourite. I had my “Piper and Paul Gold” sign ready to go! They finished in third place after the rhythm dance – not a surprise. Their program to “No More I Love Yous” and “Addicted to Love” is still the best, in my opinion, at catching the 80s ethos. There was WAY too much Bonnie Tyler for my liking.

For the Ice Dance free dance, the competition was incredible. The crowd was crazy loud! Again, I have so many teams that I love. Piper and Paul came out and skated so well under such intense pressure. They won the free dance and finished second overall. That’s one place higher than the last two years. And that is huge in ice dance. Their Wuthering Heights program is a masterpiece. I was far too nervous to take photos. Thanks Val for subbing in!

I didn’t take many photos from the men or women but they were both fantastic. I love Kaori Sakamoto!! Ilia Malinin is not my favourite skater but his technical prowess is unmatched. Seeing Yuma Kagiyama skate in person was sensational!

Stars on Ice 2023

By , May 12, 2023 9:23 pm

On May 5 my mom and I returned to Stars on Ice after taking the pandemic off. We had a wonderful time. So I’m sharing some of my photos. Our seats were pretty darn good and I think I did a pretty good job of capturing some nice moments.

I was really surprised how much I enjoyed watching Alexa Knierem and Brandon Frazier. It wasn’t just that they were the only pairs team. They had a lot of spark and power. I hadn’t seen their free program many times during the skating season; here, I thought it was a fantastic fit for their athletic style.

I have been a fan of Madison Chock and Evan Bates only for about two or three years. I was SO excited to see them in person. And they did not disappoint – so captivating. Moved beautifully.

Jason Brown: what an exciting moment to see Jason live. He is so brilliant, committed to his art. Passionate. But fun-loving and clearly excited to be performing in Toronto where he trained for years. I am so lucky to have finally seen him live. His career has impacted figure-skating and reminded us all that it is not just a sport. It is sport and art. Combined.

Though he doesn’t have the same finesse as Jason, Keegan has the same passion. And speed. Even on the small show ice, he zoomed around. This was also my first time seeing Keegan live – finally.

I’ve seen Patrick skate more times than I can count. He’s not on top of his jumps anymore, clearly. But there is still NO ONE who can glide across the ice like Patrick. He still has that. And that is still well worth watching.

I’ve also seen Piper and Paul live before. I’ve enjoyed their clear happiness at being in Stars on Ice. Same thing this time. In retrospect, I feel lucky to have seen them as Piper revealed a few days ago that she had had ovarian cancer.

Finally to Kurt! Kurt’s 30th Stars on Ice, and I’ve seen almost all of them. Kurt has been my favourite skater for a very long time. No one will ever replace Kurt’s dynamism, comedy, and unique style. What has always impressed me most about Kurt is his chameleon-like ability to do any style. His “duet” with Elvis was fantastic tongue-in-cheek. I don’t think his other pieces were choreographic masterpieces, but they were heart-felt. He did a lot of skating in this event. The James Bond group number was wonderful.

Kurt was clearly very emotional skating for his adopted hometown. His family and friends must have been sitting there along the side on the ice. I loved seeing that truly authentic emotion.

We had an amazing night. We’ll be back next year. Another post to come as there are MORE pics.

Saitama Worlds

By , April 9, 2023 4:53 pm

I wish I could have gone to the World Figure Skating Championships in Japan. Maybe next year in Montreal.

It has been an interesting year for figure skating fans. Personally, I did not miss the Russians (banned due to the war against Ukraine) at all. After the drama of the last Olympics, I was happy to have that angle eliminated from the entire season. I do not care at all who is doing how many quads at what young age. There is such a thing as longevity and health.

Instead we got perhaps less stellar skating but a much more friendly environment. The Japanese fans are legendary: kind to every single skater, clapping along to the beat at the drop of a hat, and always PRESENT. Particularly at Canadian skating events, the crowds have been sparse this year. To see the Japanese fans go absolutely bonkers for Kaori Sakamoto, Ryuichi Kihara and Riku Miura (pairs), and Daisuke Takahashi and Kana Muramoto (dance) was incredible. I love their passion for the sport. And they love a lot of skaters that I love, too: Piper and Paul, Jason Brown, Keegan Messing, to name a few.

The Worlds did give me some concerns though, particularly with the scoring of the dance event. This leaves me wondering, what do you do when the sport you love is an unsavoury institution? Apparently, even though Russian skaters were banned, Russian coaches were there (sort of understandable) as were Russian ISU officials (how is that possibly allowed???). That is just wrong. How does the international skating union look itself in the mirror?

Yes, ice dance – my favourite – is notoriously the most ‘fixed’ discipline within figure skating. All Canadians probably had extremely high hopes for Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier to bring home the gold. Unfortunately, Piper had an appendectomy and they sat out nationals. To my extreme pleasure, they skated great at Worlds, if maybe a bit slower than usual. The Evita program played really well. They didn’t tinker with it like they did with last year’s Long and Winding Road. Why then were they third in both the short and free dance scoring? I have enjoyed Madison Chock and Evan Bates ever since their Olympic alien routine. I give them huge credit for sticking with this year’s weird theme as well. But they made a huge error (albeit not on an element) in the free dance that should have lowered their overall program component scores to a maximum of 9.5. But apparently that rule was just ignored. As for the Italians who finished with the silver. Good effort. That’s all I’m going to say. Yes, I am a fickle Canadian fan.

I’ve always been a sports fan. These days my sporting tastes are much more limited. I have no regrets that I continue to invest my time and tears into figure skating.

Piper & Paul and Evita: A dance a decade in the making - Team Canada -  Official Olympic Team Website
Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier, Evita free dance

My View on the Olympic Figure Skating

By , March 9, 2022 7:50 pm

Blunt admission: I am a very passionate skating fan, especially of ice dance. I am not only a viewer during the Olympics. When Covid first broke one of the saddest things for me was the cancellation of the World Figure Skating Championships in Montreal. There, said it.

First, I am tired. I stayed up late to watch the team event, the men, the ice dance, and some of the pairs. And I am a person who is almost always in bed by 11:00 pm.

Second, I didn’t watch the women’s event at all because I haven’t followed the women for the last few years for many of the same reasons that have become the media focus during the games. Just stuff I don’t enjoy talking about. Ick. Ick.

Third, I only watched skating. I didn’t watch any other competitions. No, not even hockey or speed skating, two big sports for Canada!

Let’s start with the Team Event. I know some skating purists don’t like the team event, only in its third Olympics. To be frank, I like it because I think it’s only fair that skaters should have more opportunities to win medals like so many of their fellow athletes in multi-event sports such as speed skating, swimming, etc. It’s also a great warm-up (usually) for skaters in their individual competitions.

I thought it was highly enjoyable, though I was very disappointed in Roman Sadovsky, the Canadian man who had to step in for Keegan Messing when he was delayed in flying to Beijing due to a positive Covid test.

By contrast, I was so pleased by Maddy Schizas, the only Canadian woman in the competition. If it weren’t for Maddy Canada would not have even made the team final (top 5 teams) which would have been a great shock after Canada won the team gold at the last Olympics. So great job to her – very mature, responsive and poised.

Two of my favourite skaters, Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier, in the dance event, just didn’t have the best time. I’ve been watching their programs all year and all the changes they’ve made over the months. They looked more fluid, less rushed. But judges were really tough on them and they didn’t have their best skates. On the other hand I was beyond excited that Americans Madison Chock and Evan Bates won the free dance. Amazing. I have loved their alien free dance from the start of the season when it was taking so much criticism for being un-Olympic.

Piper Gilles, Paul Poirier help Canada with free dance - KTVZ
Piper and Paul’s free dance in the team event

On to the men. I am a very big Nathan Chen fan. Absolute unparalleled athleticism and focus. Not as much a Yuzuru Hanyu fan, though I respect his huge ambition and his technical greatness. I personally find that many of his programs look the same and thus I don’t admire his artistry as much as perhaps I should. But what I loved most about the men was Yuma Kagiyama. There’s this expression that skating commentators have often used over the years to describe very fluid skaters: “a skater’s skater.” It could not apply to him any more! He is so musical, so smooth. So clever and creative, and expressive in both happy and sad emotions. On a Canadian note, Keegan did a great job considering how long it took him to get to Beijing. He brings an energy all his own to the event and it’s that uniqueness that I appreciate. Just a note on his spins: he is one of the best spinners in the world and doesn’t seem to get appropriate marks for it. Is it because he’s not a classical-type skater? Speaking of, of course I was extremely happy that Jason Brown finished sixth overall. No quad. No need. Beautiful musical skating. Especially in the short program, the Sinnerman choreography is unique, challenging, fresh and a perfect fit for Jason. I just cannot say how much I love him. He’s probably one of the skaters I would most want to meet in person! He has a perspective and something to contribute to the world, not just to skating. It sometimes shocks me that I haven’t stalked him outside the Cricket Club in Toronto.

Jason Brown

Ah, the dance. Such an incredible last flight in the free program. I was so happy for Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue to skate so powerfully and cleanly in their final amateur skate. I don’t love their program so much but that is irrelevant when they skate it so well. I personally would have had Chock and Bates in third and the Russians Sinitsina and Katsalapov in fourth (or lower). Listening to Scott Moir commentating very frankly on them on CBC was fascinating. Having also watched it on the Olympic feed, I feel the commentators there, especially Belinda Noonan, were kind to all the skaters. They were very positive and human. And I have no problem with that.

About the Canadians in ice dance. I felt heartbroken for Piper and Paul to have made a mistake in both programs. However, I found the rest of their programs were stronger than their marks indicated. I am not saying I thought they should have been on the podium: no, not here. Not the right energy. And as much as I have enjoyed the creativity of the Elton John-themed rhythm dance (and the bright orange costumes), the Long and Winding Road long program just felt heavy at the Olympics. I didn’t think of it until I heard Sandra Bezic refer to it as “over-produced.” I did not feel that way all season long. So sad that it concluded this way for them. I have really come to appreciate the work of Nikolaj Sorensen and Laurence Fournier Beaudry over the past few years. Again, it’s very unfortunate that they had some mistakes because they have been rising up the ranks lately. I am very pleased they switched their free dance to Gladiator. The previous spoken word program just didn’t hit it with me. I thought the third-ranked Canadian team, Marjorie Lajoie and Zachary Lagha, skated well and were somewhat undermarked. Especially in the free dance, their choreography is very sophisticated for their ages.

If I’m being honest, my favourite programs all season have been Chock and Bates’ alien meets astronaut theme due to its creative choreography and fantastic lifts, and Piper and Paul’s Long and Winding Road. One worked at the Olympics, one didn’t. That’s sports. Third spot would go to the Spanish team, Olivia Smart and Adrian Diaz, for their Zorro program. That they were able to skate it so well after having to compete it at the highest level all season long against their fellow Spanish team for that one ice dance spot for Spain, AMAZING. How they did it, I do not know. Again, that is the amazingness of sports!

Chock and Bates

I didn’t watch the women and have little to say except that there is no surprise to the initiated that something is wrong with Eteri Tutberidze, her so-called methods, her humanity, her choreography (or lack thereof). Everything. Just one high point: Kaori Sakamoto is another of those pure, fluid skaters. A person is allowed to and should be expected to show joy in skating!

The pairs surprised me. Pairs skating has gone in a very weird direction in the last few years with such downer music. Slow, weepy, teary. I’m not in love with that trend at all. However, there were a number of stunning performances. For one, the Japanese team of Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara. Such joy, abandon, love of skating. This has been building all season long and it is such an absolute pleasure to have seen them on this Olympic journey. Not quite with the same freedom, but close, Russians Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov finally had a clean, passionate skate. Wow. What a pressure relief for them after the disappointment of the free program at the 2018 Olympics. I respected and appreciated the cleanliness of the third-place Russians, Anastasia Mishina and Alexandr Galliamov. Very talented and mature. They just need to push harder and put more emotion in until the very last moment. Finally, probably the biggest emotional event of the skating competition, the gold medal for Sui Wenjing and Han Cong. Yes, they made a mistake. But they also took a big risk with the quad split twist. Beautiful program and choreography. Such incredible skating skills, such passion and intensity. And how could one go wrong skating to the lyrics of Paul Simon’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water”?

Beijing 2022 figure skating: Everything you need to know about Japan's Riku  Miura and Ryuichi Kihara
Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara

I still love skating. I’m very sad that such a bad light has been shone on my sport. But hopefully it will be cleaned up and the road for future skaters will look brighter.

Grand Prix Skating Under Way

By , October 27, 2019 8:48 am

In addition to giraffes, dogs, cats and horses, I also LOVE figure skating. Here are my favourites for this season, so far.

The Broadway theme in ice dance (my personal most loved discipline) is bringing out a lot of interesting routines. Though Papadakis and Cizeron (current world champions from France) don’t always have great rhythm dances, in my opinion, I absolutely love their 80s workout to ‘Fame.’ Their speed is incredible.

I like Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier’s ‘Mack and Mabel’. This part of the competition isn’t always as strong for them so I love their attack on it this year.

Anything by the new Canadian dance team of Laurence Fournier Beaudry and Nikolaj Sorensen! Their edges are beautiful and smooth.

Now, the judges seem to have a lot of messages for American champs Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue. In the past I have agreed with them – I quite disliked last year’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’ free dance. However, I like their free dance choice for this year: ‘A Star Is Born.’ It really suits Zach’s skating. But once again their work is being picked apart. They were just defeated at Skate Canada by Gilles and Poirier.


Though ice dance is my thing, I do follow the other disciplines. My biggest complaint about pairs and singles is that so many skaters don’t seem to listen to their music. So I really like the skaters who do:

Everything Sataoko Miyahara does is a work of art.

Rika Kihira is effortlessly musical, in a floating sort of way.

Nathan Chen, men’s world champion, is showing his musical side in conjunction with those big quad jumps.

The new Canadian pair of Lubov Ilyushechkina and Charlie Bilodeau has a lovely lightness and musicality to their skating. They skate like they actually enjoy what they do.

American Jason Brown (who trains at the Cricket Club where I used to skate when I was young) has a heartfelt rendition of ‘Schindler’s List.’

Lastly, Piper and Paul have set themselves a really difficult task skating to Joni Mitchell’s ‘Both Sides Now.’ The version they put together is incredibly difficult to skate to because it’s somewhat dissonant, but they have somehow made it a masterpiece.

Happiness at Stars on Ice

By , May 8, 2019 7:59 pm

Last Friday I had the most amazing time at Stars on Ice, a long-time tradition with my mom and step-sister Lindsay. With on-ice seats we had incredible views and even shook hands with Andrew Poje! For a super fan of Canadian skating it was an incredible treat.

Skating 2018-19 – The Women

By , November 11, 2018 3:43 pm

The other day one of my students asked what I do for fun. I was in a grumpy mood so I said I didn’t have any hobbies. That’s not true – I am a figure skating fan. In the absence of riding horses, I am spending more time watching skating.

Figure skating fans never know what to expect in the year following an Olympics. Especially in Canada with the retirements (or breaks) of so many super stars, we weren’t sure what would happen.

It turns out that this season is spectacular so far, especially in the women’s field. I liked Japan’s 20-year old Satoko Miyahara last year, but this year I love her! Her speed and interpretation are incredible. I cannot say how much I love her free program tango. She carries the tango interpretation all the way through the interesting mashup of Vivaldi’s winter. Though her jumps aren’t stellar in their height, they are getting better and her landing edge is strong and fast.

Image result for satoko miyahara

Satoko Miyahra  in 2016, from

And then there is the spectacular freshness of 16 year old Rika Kiahara, also from Japan, who took the crown at the recent NHK competition in Japan with two beautiful triple axels in her free program. And what a skater she is – she glides effortlessly across the ice, maintaining her interesting storm-themed choreography throughout.

Rika Kihira

Rika Kiyahara at the recent 2018 NHK competition, from

When you have watched the Japanese women skate, glide and emote, there is no comparison with the three leading Russians. While Alina Zagitova, last year’s Olympic champion, still has the energy and the jumps, she is an annoying skater to watch – so hunched over, in my opinion. Last year’s Olympic silver medalist , Evgenia Medvedeva, now training in Toronto (at my old place, the Cricket Club), is disappointing so far but I think it will be a long-term transition for her if she can stay committed to the change plan. And then there’s Elizaveta Tuktamysheva with her sass and triple axel. She’s just not my cup of tea but I appreciate the spring in her jumps and her athleticism.

What of the Canadians? I think if Kaetlyn Osmond were to return to competition she’d be right in there. She is a fantastic artist and athlete. Having seen her skate in person multiple times at Stars on Ice I can see that her talent is deep and genuine. But I totally understand how she’d want to take time off. Kaetlyn’s bronze medal skate at the Olympics was nothing short of inspiring. I screamed my head off in joy! Gabby Daleman, who is off on a mental-health break, has the athletic goods to compete but doesn’t seem to have the consistency. There really isn’t anyone else in the top tier.

2018 Winter Olympics - Kaetlyn Osmond - 08.jpg

Kaetlyn Osmond at the 2018 Olympics where she won the bronze medal, from

Though it would be nice if Canadian women’s skating had more depth, there’s more than enough international talent to keep the fans happy.



Stars on Ice Toronto

By , May 13, 2018 1:39 pm

On the day of the crazy windstorm the Stars on Ice 2018 tour arrived in Toronto. I was lucky enough to have incredible on-ice seats to view what had to be one of the greatest moments of my life. Yes, I said that.

For a figure skating fan this was the highlight: our entire gold medal team plus Javier Fernandez and Jeffrey Buttle (well, I’m not much of an Elvis Stojko fan but he tried)! What more can a figure skating fan ask for (Kurt Browning might be my answer).

It’s hard to pick out just one highlight as there were so many thrills but tears came to my eyes during Patrick Chan’s Hallelujah and Tessa and Scott’s Roxanne. The filled ACC was SO loud for Tessa and Scott. The entire gold medal team skating to Fields of Gold was pretty sweet, too.

I have to say that after the thrill of the World Championships for Kaetlyn Osmond’s gold and Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje’s bronze it was pretty awesome to see them live. Kaitlyn and Andrew, in particular, did two amazing numbers. Kaetlyn stands out for her speed, grace and maturity – not a concept very common in women’s skating these days with all those 15 year old jumpers who don’t hear their music.

On a parting note for the 2017-2018 season I will just say this: Tessa and Scott skating to Roxanne is the greatest creation figure skating has every seen. Superlative. Happy to have been a witness to it.

My Tessa and Scott

By , March 14, 2018 10:36 am

Toronto Star


They seem to belong to the world now. That’s what the Olympics do.

Though they had a following around the world well before the 2018 Olympics, they are now of the world, of the pop culture world that cares more for their ‘relationship story’ than for their skating skills. Shipping? Fan fiction? Tabloid headlines? These are not the things for my Tessa and Scott.

As a longtime devotee of ice dancing I care most for Tessa and Scott’s skating skills, even as much as I love them as characters. To me, they move like no one else. And they move as one. I don’t think there’s any other ice dance team that skates as closely together. Again I say, as one. They never have to reach for each other. Other teams approach this, such as the French, though it’s not my preferred version of close – it’s cool, not sensual.

Perhaps it’s best to define closeness with its opposite – the Russians, Bobrova and Soloviev. They are always reaching, scratching. Though I actually like their “loss of sight” free dance (it took a while for me to be able to say that), I feel it is made worse by their somewhat chaotic skating skills.

Hubbell and Donohue approach the ‘simmering’ look of closeness. But to me it’s more of a look. Tessa and Scott don’t just look that way. It’s a skill honed over two decades to get that organic way of moving together. As a Canadian I feel that Weaver and Poje come very close to skating as one. For some reason the judges do not think on the same level. I cannot explain that, nor can any commentator I’ve ever heard.

I will see all of my favourite Canadian skaters (plus Javier Fernandez, apparently) at Stars on Ice in May. What I absolutely love most about it is seeing their passion for skating on their faces, up close and personal.






Return to Blogging and Skating

By , October 29, 2017 4:16 pm

It has been a long time since I have blogged here. That’s probably largely attributable to the fact that I spend so much time blogging on the OHASSTA blog, Rapport.

Blog is a bad verb. Let’s use write.

In my return, I shall write about one of my favourite fall-winter topics, figure skating.

Oy Patrick.

I love Patrick Chan’s skating – I don’t care if he jumps or not. However, I do care if he falls and doubles. In my completely outsider opinion, Patrick’s problems are in his head. Or else he trains poorly and isn’t a hard worker. I’d seriously doubt that. I doubt Marina Zoueva, his coach in Michigan, would allow that. Patrick could just skate around on his edges and he’d impress the hell out of me but I guess that’s not the sport at hand. Fourth place at Skate Canada International 2017 was a fall from grace. Tracy Wilson’s consternation on CTV said it all. Or maybe she was concerned about Brian Orser who had gall bladder surgery in Regina. Maybe Patrick’s pride has taken one too many hits in the face of all those young jumping beans who can’t skate.


Canada's Patrick Chan performs his free program in the men's competition at Skate Canada International in Regina on Saturday, October 28, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson ORG XMIT: PCH215


(National Post,

I have to say, that look on Patrick’s face reminds me of those times when only half my class hands in their assignment on the due date.

Love Tessa and Scott

They are without doubt the greatest ice dancers ever. Plain and simple. Technically, emotionally, musically! Most importantly, they have range. Though I enjoyed the technical prowess of Meryl Davis and Charlie White, I was constantly annoyed by the sameness of every routine they skated. The same drive and passion for excellence, but the same level nonetheless. As fans, we need more. As skaters, I’d assume they’d need more. Skating without Tessa and Scott will be empty again.


(Toronto Star,


there are dance teams waiting in the wings. And I don’t mean the French – though they are lovely, they don’t have the range. I mean Katelyn Weaver and Andrew Poje, newly returned to greatness with their reprise of “Je suis malade”. Also, I have really come to admire the American team of Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue (another team that trains with Marie-France Dubreuil and Patrice Lauzon in Montreal). Deep edges, very smooth. Very musical. I always like what Paul Poirier and Piper Gilles come up with. Their skate to the music from Perry Mason is an interesting choice. Very understated. Ironically, one of the Perry Mason composers was jazz musician Lud Gluskin (don’t ask me how I know this). He didn’t compose the piece they skate to, but it’s a cute little connection I’ll take.


Meagan and Eric’s Big Return

As Meagan could be overheard saying in the “kiss and cry” area after their free skate, the quad is back. We all know they lost their way some time last year. They , Meagan in particular, looked so nervous leading up to that throw quadruple too loop. After that, back to the old fist-pumping confidence. I hope it will last them throughout the season. I haven’t watched much else in the pairs world. I still like Liubov Ilyushechkina and Dylan Moscovitch despite her frequent falls – I like the different style of choreography in their short program, “In the Air Tonight.” I also liked the choreography of Aliona Savchenko and Bruno Massot – very modern. But they just didn’t skate it. I do finally see what all the fuss about Vanessa James and Morgan Cipres of France is all about. Very promising team – very athletic, with modern choreography. LONG legs on both of them.



(Golden Skate,

Happy at last.


Looking forward to the next skates.



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