Original Dance

Mélissande Dumas & Anthony Quintal: Charming Italian OD. Their portrayal of the characters and style in this program has improved so much over the course of the season. They lost points on twizzles (L3, -1.00 GOE), but were one of only three teams to earn level 3 on both of their step sequences (Circular: base value, Midline: +.40 GOE). 40.13, 8th in OD.

Catherine Alarie & Benjamin Brisebois Gaudreau: Flamenco, with some Paso Doble flavor as well. Solid elements — their only negative GOE was a -.20 on their level 3 diagonal step sequence. They were committed to the choreography and performed well, although they were hurt by a lack of speed and power. 38.90, 12th in OD.

Elisabeth Paradis & Tristan Laliberté: Indian. Polished program, with careful attention paid to choreography, keeping the entire program in character. Negative GOE on two elements: -.20 on the level 2 midline steps and -.50 on level 3 twizzles. In the future, Paradis & Laliberté will have more success if they skate with more power and confidence. 37.94, 14th in OD.

Marie-Philippe Vincent & François-Xavier Ouellette: Québecois folk. Enjoyable skate with a lovely, lilting character. They were shaky in places on the midline steps, which earned level 2 and cost them a point in GOE. One judge gave them 1.75 for interpretation, which looks like it was a mistake, since their interpretation was the strongest aspect of their components and all of their other PCS marks were between 3.50 and 4.50. 38.90, 11th in OD.

Kathryn Leak & David Mackay Perry: Country by the Dixie Chicks. Good energy, and good improvement over the season, but problems with the elements cost them. Their midline steps earned a level 2, but their rotational lift only earned a level 1 and, coupled with -.30 GOE, lost them quite a few points. 31.12, 15th in the OD.

Olivia Martins & Alvin Chau: Indian – “Dhoom Taana.” Fantastic interpretation; Martins has this character down perfectly. Chau fought through the twizzles, which dropped to a level 3 and -.50 GOE, but they stayed in 2nd, even on the TES mark, because of the picture-perfect level 3 midline step sequence that closed the program and scored +1.40 GOE. Three judges gave the element +2. 45.93, 2nd in OD.

Abby Carswell & Andrew Doleman: Celtic. Lost a level on twizzles (L3, -.10 GOE), strong elements otherwise. Like their training mates before them, Carswell & Doleman made big gains on their midline step sequence (L3, +1.00 GOE). Solid performance, but it felt a bit flat compared to Martins & Chau. 44.39, 3rd in OD.

Alexandra Paul & Mitchell Islam: Flamenco, keeping in the tradition of the top Canadian senior teams. Fiery performance, good character and use of her skirt without it being a distraction. Excellent speed and unison through the level 4 twizzles, earning +1.00 GOE. Both step sequences were level 3; +1.40 GOE for the diagonal steps and +1.60 for the midline. A performance like this at Junior Worlds could put them in the top five. 55.26, 1st in OD.

Nicole Orford & Malcolm Rohon O’Halloran: Gypsy music. Shaky on the twizzles, but held onto a level 4 (-.30 GOE) and a bit tentative on the level 2 circular steps, although they earned +.60 GOE. They are capable of earning a level 3 on their steps, though. Better energy and confidence in the second half of the program. 42.22, 6th in OD.

Jazz Smyl Joly & Ryan Behnia: Good skate with nice attack on the level 3 diagonal steps (base value) to open the program, but they lacked the speed and edge quality of the teams that skated before them in the second group. Smyl Joly, in particular, pours a ton of character into this program. 39.34, 10th in OD.

Alexa-Marie Arrotta & Martin Nickel: Great unison on the level 3 midline step sequence, earning +1.00 GOE, but the unison broke down at one point on the level 4 twizzles later in the program (-.40 GOE). Along with Dumas & Quintal and Paul & Islam, Arrotta & Nickel earned level 3 for both step sequences. Arrotta took a hard fall toward the end of the program, but it was not on an element, and it did not appear to be reflected in the marks, aside from the mandatory one-point deduction. 43.76, 5th in OD.

Véronique de Beaumont-Boisvert & Sebastien Buron: Flamenco, which they chose because they wanted a challenge. The character was fairly good, but they appeared to be concentrating more on the elements than the performance. Opening level 3 stationary lift (+.90 GOE) was spectacular, with five judges giving it +2. The twizzles were downgraded to a level 2 (-.10 GOE) because they missed one of the difficult features. 41.17, 7th in OD.

Catherine St-Onge & Alexander Browne: “Eastern” feel to the program. Impressive balance on their opening level 4 straightline lift (+.50 GOE), where St-Onge stood on Browne’s boot and leaned backwards. Twizzles were a level 3, although the GOE evened out (two +1s, three 0s, and two -1s), so they received base value. Engaging performance quality, but they lacked speed. 39.89, 9th in OD.

Andréanne Poulin & Marc-André Servant: Celtic, charming program about a soldier leaving his sweetheart behind. Very confident skate with no negative GOE on any elements. The program included a level 4 rotational lift, level 3 twizzles, level 3 circular steps, and a level 2 midline step sequence. Poulin & Servant certainly skated their best, although the choreography looked a bit simple next to some of the other top teams in the field. 44.23, 4th in OD.

Olga Lioudvinevitch & Thomas Williams: Fun, energetic Russian program. Messy on the twizzles (L3, -.70 GOE), and the handkerchief prop doesn’t seem very useful, especially since it’s white and is often hard to see. The definite highlight was the crazy final lift (optional element) with a lot of flipping and changing positions. 38.67, 13th in OD.

Free Dance

At 2010 BMO Skate Canada Junior Nationals, the athletes did not skate in reverse order in the free skate, like their senior counterparts did later in the week, so it was simply luck of the draw that Alexandra Paul & Mitchell Islam were the final team to compete in the junior free dance. When they skated, the competition seemed almost like a formality. The strong new partnership out of the Mariposa School of Skating in Barrie, Ont., was already leading by 15 points after the original dance. Paul & Islam didn’t have to worry too much about blowing their lead on a small mistake, so they just skated. The freedom in their interpretation resonated with the small crowd gathered at the Western Fair Sports Centre in London, and a cheer erupted when their scores went up. 79.71 in the free dance, 169.39 overall. Personal bests in all segments of the competition. Canadian junior champions. 

“I think it’s been an amazing experience,” Paul said after the event. “Our goal was to get personal bests, to build on our previous scores.” 

Paul & Islam received all +2s and +1s for the elements in their free dance, including six +2s (out of seven judges) for their opening level four rotational lift. Beyond the elements, their strong skating skills, excellent speed, and attention to detail in their choreography contributed to their status as the clear frontrunners. With two top-five finishes on the JGP last fall, Paul & Islam are aiming to step up their international scores at the World Junior Championships in March. 

“It’s been a whirlwind of a season,” Islam said. “Now, [it’s] on from here.” 

Olivia Martins & Alvin Chau were nearly through a clean program when they ran into trouble on the circular step sequence, where Martins stumbled. The element was called a level 2 and they lost a full point in GOE. Until then, they had been skating quite well, especially on the level 3 diagonal step sequence, which every judge scored +1 GOE. Unfortunately, Martins & Chau appeared to be skating through their Latin free dance with a goal of defending second place, instead of really attacking the spicy character. 

“It was not our best skate,” Martins admitted, but added, “We accomplished our goal of medaling at Nationals.” 

Chau seemed to take the experience in stride, speaking highly of their international experience this season, but wished that they had been able to skate their best at this event. “You have to live with it,” he said. “It’s life. No one can always do a perfect run-through. Everyone has mistakes here and there.” 

Fortunately, their strong performances in the first two portions of the competition made up for a free dance that was not up to their own standards. With a score of 67.06, Martins & Chau were fourth in the free dance, but managed to hang on to the silver medal with a final score of 145.22 in their final season of junior eligibility. 

Just over two points behind Martins & Chau were the bronze medalists and their training mates, Abby Carswell & Andrew Doleman. Carswell & Doleman’s emotional free dance showcased the team’s strength in interpretation and featured fluid skating, as well as strong technique. All seven judges gave a GOE of +1 to each of the couple’s step sequences. 

“I think it was a good way to finish off the year,” Carswell said of the team’s second-place finish in the free dance.  

Alexa-Marie Arrotta & Martin Nickel came back from a freak fall in the original dance to place fourth with 139.80 points. Their score of 68.28 for their exciting Slumdog Millionaire program was ranked third in the free dance. Arrotta & Nickel were so close to the podium — just over three points from third place — but they were all smiles after the event, and not at all disappointed with fourth place. Just a few months ago, it seemed like their season was in jeopardy when Arrotta required surgery. She spent the month of October off the ice. 

“I’m pretty pumped to put together three solid performances,” Nickel said, noting that they have struggled with consistency in the past. “It was definitely our best free dance in competition.” 

“I’m really proud of Martin,” Arrotta added, even though she had been the partner that had faced the tough comeback this season, which Nickel was quick to point out. 

“She’s a tough cookie,” he said. 

Arrotta & Nickel plan to compete on the senior level next year, since this is Nickel’s last season of junior eligibility. 

Just about five points behind Arrotta & Nickel and finishing in fifth place were Andréanne Poulin & Marc-André Servant. Poulin & Servant have made great strides in their first year together as a team, especially since they are both competing on the junior level for the first time, as well. Although they made slight errors on their level 4 twizzles (-.50 GOE) and their level 2 diagonal step sequence (-1.00 GOE), the performance level in their Evanescence free dance maintained its intensity to the end of the program. 

“We’ve accomplished our goals for the year,” Poulin said. “We’re a new couple. We proved our point in the year.” 

The team plans to spend at least one more year on the junior level and simply wants to keep moving forward in the future. 

With a modern music selection of “Fallin'” by Alicia Keys, Véronique de Beaumont-Boisvert & Sebastien Buron maintained their sixth-place ranking from last year. Problems with elements and levels in the free dance have plagued them this season, but at Nationals, they finally earned level 4 for all of their elements besides their step sequences, and those step sequences were both called level 2. Unison breaks and a few small slips negatively impacted the score on both step sequences, but the team made up some ground with their fantastic lifts. Their combination lift, a level 4 curve lift + level 4 rotational lift, earned +2 GOE from six of the seven judges. 

“I’m happy with my performance,” de Beaumont-Boisvert said after the event. Their sixth-place free dance earned 63.62 points and their final score was 131.08. 

Nicole Orford & Malcolm Rohon-O’Halloran were lucky to be skating at Junior Nationals at all, so despite a few rough moments in their eighth-ranked free dance, they were relieved to make it through the competition. The team had a freak fall in practice just a few days before Christmas, and Orford’s blade was pushed deep into Rohon-O’Halloran’s leg. He was off the ice for two weeks, and they did not even get a full week of training before they were off to London for Junior Nationals. In the fall, it was Orford who injured her foot practicing her triple toe loop a couple of days before Sectionals, and they missed a couple of weeks of training time before Challenge as well. 

So although they had a unison break on their twizzles at the start of their Mask of Zorro free dance and had trouble with their straightline lift, which was downgraded from a level 4 to a level 2, they were happy with their performance. Their final score of 128.53 was well below the mark of 142.58 that they set at Challenge the previous month, when they won the bronze medal behind Paul & Islam and Martins & Chau, but they were realistic about what they should have expected, heading into the event. 

“It was really good,” Orford said. “It was what we expected under the circumstances.” 

“We were hoping to do better marks-wise,” Rohon-O’Halloran added, but his partner shook her head and stopped him. 

“The marks don’t really mean anything,” she said. 

Jazz Smyl Joly & Ryan Behnia cast a spell in the arena with their delicate and emotional “Romeo & Juliet” free dance. Although a stumble from Smyl Joly in their level 2 diagonal step sequence cost them a full point in GOE, they recovered quickly and the mistake did not affect the strong interpretive aspect of the program. A score of 60.57 in the free dance (ninth) gave them 125.85 overall for eighth place. 

Although they had to skate in the first group, Olga Lioudvinevitch & Thomas Williams were able to climb a few places in the free dance to ninth overall. With 125.54, they nearly overtook Smyl Joly & Behnia with their eighth-place free dance. Their strong performance was marred only slightly by a unison break on the opening twizzle sequence. Lioudvinevitch & Williams consistently give such an exciting performance of their perky original dance, so it seems like this classical free dance is a bit out of their comfort zone. Over the course of the season, they clearly became more and more comfortable with it and were able to end the year on a high note. 

Finishing tenth in the free dance and tenth overall were Mélissande Dumas & Anthony Quintal. Their final score of 123.24 was just over two points behind Lioudvinevitch & Williams. Dumas & Quintal’s free dance to “New York, New York” was full of energy and showmanship. Their elements were quite strong, including the opening level 4 rotational lift that earned +1 GOE from every judge, but the skating between the elements was a bit slower than that of the top teams. 

In their third year on the junior level, Catherine St-Onge & Alexander Browne maintained last year’s 11th-place ranking. Their program to an orchestral arrangement of “Nothing Else Matters” was skated well, although they lost some steam in the final minute and really had to push through their last element, a level 2 diagonal step sequence. Their score of 54.52 put them in 12th in the free, but their overall score of 118.50 was enough for 11th place. 

Finishing just a point behind their training mates, in 12th place, were Catherine Alarie & Benjamin Brisebois Gaudreau. The first skaters in the competition, they seemed a little tentative, but skated cleanly. Alarie & Brisebois Gaudreau earned the base value for most of their elements, which were all called level 4s, aside from the level 2 step sequences. With 56.38 points, they were 11th in the free dance. 

Moving up two places from last year, Marie-Philippe Vincent & François-Xavier Ouellette finished 13th with a total score of 116.03. Skating a lyrical program to a Sarah Brightman song, they had a nice flow in the majority of the dance, but Vincent made a fairly large mistake in the diagonal step sequence and missed several steps before she rejoined her partner. The diagonal steps were reduced to level 1 and they incurred -2.20 GOE for the element. Their free dance score of 53.73 was ranked 13th. 

Elisabeth Paradis & Tristan Laliberté  captured the tango character of their free dance, but struggled with the technical elements. A big stumble on their level 2 circular step sequence (-1.40 GOE) seemed like it made them lose confidence and they navigated the slower mid-section very tentatively. When the music picked up again at the end, they really tried to push through the rest of the program, but were hampered by small mistakes on both the twizzles (L3, -.50 GOE) and the diagonal step sequence (L2, -1 GOE). They scored 52.11 in the free dance for 14th in this segment and 14th overall. 

Kathryn Leak & David Mackay Perry also ran into problems in their West Side Story free dance, which scored 45.07. Mistakes on their rotational lift and their combination spin resulted in level 1 for both elements, which really hurt their technical score. Overall, their performance was a bit off, and although they never gave up, it seemed like they kept trying to catch up with each other, instead of performing the program together. With 96.51 points, Leak & Mackay Perry finished 15th in the competition.