Junior Short Dance Report

Victoria Hasegawa & Connor Hasegawa – “The Merry-Go-Round of Life” (waltz)
Good character, the most expressive I’ve seen them skate. Cute play on a sibling rivalry theme. Excellent twizzles (lv 4, +0.5). Level 4 on both Viennese patterns, which was something they’d been drilling prior to this event. Level 3, +1 on midline. Great skate, maybe just work on speed in the future.
51.88, 3rd place

Jade Marrow & Allan Stoll – “Do I Hear a Waltz” (waltz)
Level 3/2 on Viennese, slow on twizzles but good unison (lv 3, -0.17), good midline steps to open (lv 3). Very secure and polished overall, best I’ve seen them skate this program.
42.16, 11th place

Larissa Van As & Troy Shindle – “I Remember Natalie” + “Big Time” (waltz/quickstep)
Nice curve lift to open, Viennese looked strong (lv 4/3), looks like she may have missed a couple of steps at the end of the midline (lv 2, -0.17). Good “ballroom-y” character, confident.
42.22, 10th place

Laurence Fournier-Beaudry & Yoan Breton – “Chiquilin de Bachin” + “Tanguera” (waltz/tango)
Seemed a little nervous through the waltz (Viennese lv 1/2), but really settled into a very spicy tango. Level 3, +1.50 on midline. Tango was a great choice for them—they can handle it!
48.37, 5th place

Andréanne Poulin & Marc-André Servant – “Keep Holding On” (waltz)
Very smooth on Viennese (lv 4/3) and midline (lv 3, +1). They almost always struggle with the twizzles, this time wasn’t too costly because Poulin just put her foot down early at the end of the first set and did the second set well. Level 3, -0.50 for twizzles. Gentle, waltzy expression.
50.71, 4th place.

Jazz Smyl Joly & Ryan Behnia – “Tears-Donde Voy” (waltz)
Looked like he dropped a rotation on the twizzles (lv 3, -0.92), midline was a little stumbly (lv 2, -1). Viennese level 3/2. Rotational lift at end was strong, but only a level 1, so I think she didn’t have her blade all the way to her head.
34.30, 15th place

Carolane Soucisse & Benjamin Smyth – “Flightless Bird, American Mouth” (waltz)
Nice and smooth. Strong one-armed rotational lift (lv 4, +0.5). Viennese looked solid, saved it until the very end (lv 3/3). Modern song was good choice for them, nice expression.
46.47, 7th place

Sara Aghai & Qwynn Dalmer – “Golden Umbrella” + “I Can’t Tell a Waltz from a Tango” (waltz/tango)
Twizzles lost unison but got level 4 (-0.33), Viennese levels 2/2, but timing was off in the first pattern. Seemed more confident after the music switch. Music is funny, given all the waltz/tango combinations this year. This one transitioned between the two rhythms well, though.
40.09, 12th place

Kelly Oliveira & Jordan Hockley – “Once Upon a December” (waltz)
Very calm, so pleasant to watch because it flowed so well. Midline seemed just about perfect (lv 3, +1.83), Viennese great (lv 3/4). He missed the grab on the twizzles (lv 3), but they were so fast, so they still got +0.5 GOE. Different approach to performing than they usually take, but they did very well.
51.96, 2nd place

Élisabeth Paradis & François-Xavier Ouellette – “She’s Always a Woman” (waltz)
Some parts lifted directly from Dubreuil & Lauzon’s program (their coaches/choreographers), so it felt kind of like a tribute. Great opening lift—she stands on his thigh, then twists as she comes down (lv 4, +0.75),
Viennese solid (lv 3/4). Nice, waltzy feel overall.

Josyane Cholette & Simon Proulx-Sénécal – “I’ll Always Be There” (waltz)
Viennese done well (lv 3/4), but didn’t feel quite like a waltz until they settled into the program later. Strong on midline to end (lv 3). Best I’ve seen them skate, they seemed thrilled at the end.
44.66, 9th place

Olga Lioudvinevitch & Benjamin Mulder – “Lune de Papier” (waltz)
Timing on first pattern of Viennese seemed a little off, second pattern was smoother (lv 1/2). She had to fight for the twizzles, but hung on and got level 4, though -0.5 GOE.
39.34, 13th place

Sarah Clarke & Steven Clarke – “You Don’t Know Me” + “Haven’t Met You Yet” (waltz/quickstep)
He dropped a rotation on the twizzles but perfect unison until then (lv 3, -0.5). Viennese okay though not lilt-y (2/2), he had a couple of missteps in the midline (lv 1, -0.42).
35.71, 14th place

Laurence Darveau & Jonathan Arcieri – “Valse d’Amélie Poulain” (waltz)
Shaky moments on the twizzles at end (lv 3, -0.08), but so well-skated otherwise. Viennese strong (lv 3/4), rotational lift great (lv 4, +.0.17). Great improvements since Challenge and great showing for the alternates!
44.83, 8th place

Nicole Orford & Thomas Williams – “Norwegian Wood” + “Help” (waltz/quickstep)
So, so strong and fast. Twizzles kind of blinding (lv 4, +1.00 — +2s across the board), Viennese looked beautiful (lv 4/3). Only got level 2 on midline, they were going for a level 3, but it was skated well and they got +1.67. Have I mentioned that they are fast?
54.50, 1st place

Junior Free Dance

At the 2011 BMO Skate Canada Junior Nationals in Victoria, B.C., the junior dance field was more inexperienced than in recent years, but the young field was certainly full of talent. The event was marked by strong skating and beautiful performances.

For new junior Canadian champions Nicole Orford & Thomas Williams (pictured, left), the whole season has been packed with surprises. Since they did not team up and start training until the end of May, they had to hit the ground running. After some inconsistencies in their first few events together, the new team hit their stride just in time for the Junior Grand Prix circuit, where they picked up a bronze medal and a fifth-place finish. Their momentum carried them through a victory at the BMO Skate Canada Challenges in December, making them slight favourites when Junior Nationals came to their home province.

With clear victories in both segments of the competition in Victoria, they smashed their personal best by almost ten points, scoring 130.31 overall. Their free dance, set to strings arrangements of “How You Remind Me,” “This Love,” and “Dare You to Move,” highlights the way that they have merged their skating styles in a short time. They skate faster than the other teams in the field, but over the season, they have learned how to harness their power and present different levels in their program. With level 4s on all elements besides the step sequences, which were both level 3, Orford & Williams earned only a single base GOE. The other 55 GOEs were all +1 and +2, accounting for their free dance score of 75.81, four and a half points ahead of the next-closest team. Their protocol would make any team proud, but it is even more impressive, given that they are the second-youngest partnership on the roster.

“[The season] has been a pretty big shock,” Williams said. “It really surprised us. We were just hoping to even get one international.”

Orford, grinning ear to ear, tried to put the title into perspective. “I think we did the best we could,” she said. “We couldn’t have asked for anything better.”

The secret to their dream season? “Amazing coaches,” Orford immediately said, glancing at Megan Wing & Aaron Lowe, whose students won national titles at three of the four levels in Canada this year. “And hard work.”

With 123.20 points, Kelly Oliveira & Jordan Hockley (pictured, right) won the silver medal with calm heads and solid, second-place showings in both dances. Stepping onto the podium was a big step for last year’s Canadian champions on the novice level, especially after they were disappointed with their fifth-place ranking and the scores they earned at the Challenges heading into these championships.

“We were cautious and holding back a bit,” Oliveira said about Challenge, where their score was 102.32, over 15 points below their season’s best.

Instead of getting angry, Oliveira & Hockley headed back to the ice and really worked on the details in their programs. They did not want to lose those marks again, so they kept training hard for Junior Nationals.

“We were able to let loose,” Hockley said about their skating in Victoria.

Their Singin’ in the Rain free dance certainly showed off a level of confidence in their skating. Beyond their solid technical skating—they earned mostly +1 GOE for level 4 and level 3 elements—the duo really shines in the performance aspect.

“We like playing to the audience,” Hockley said.

“We like pleasing the audience,” Oliveira quickly clarified.

After a quick glance between the two, Hockley summed it up: “We like doing things that make people happy.”

And they succeeded—just about everyone in the arena had a smile on their face after their free dance, which earned them 71.24 points, ecstatic hugs from enthusiastic coach Carol Lane, a silver medal, and after a formal announcement four days later, a trip to the World Junior Championships along with Orford & Williams.

Victoria Hasegawa & Connor Hasegawa (pictured, left) were right behind Oliveira & Hockley in both dances and, with a total score of 122.86, they could have looked at their result as just missing out on the silver medal. But the siblings were not bitter at all—instead, they were thrilled with their efforts and with their bronze medal.

“I’m surprised,” Victoria exclaimed after the event. “I wasn’t expecting this at all, for our first year junior.”

“It’s been an amazing season,” Connor added.

Like Oliveira & Hockley, the Hasegawas also stood on the Canadian podium last year at the novice level—they won bronze last year, too. It is not usual for one team to jump from the novice podium to the junior podium, but for two to make the leap in the same year is even more rare. The Hasegawas were extra happy to share the podium with Oliveira & Hockley; the foursome traveled to Japan together for the Junior Grand Prix this season.

With 70.98 points, the Hasegawas broke 70 in the free dance for the first time, delivering one of their most consistent competitions this season. Their TES of 40.07, earned on the strength of all level 4 elements besides level 3 step sequences and strong GOE, was ranked second, but their PCS were 4th.

“We’ve been working on improving the performance aspect of it,” Connor said.

In the past, the Hasegawas have had a fairly reserved style of skating, but are connecting better under new coaches Marie-France Dubreuil & Patrice Lauzon, who have been in charge of their training since July. Keeping last season’s “Stairway to Heaven” free dance turned out to be a good strategy, but it will be interesting to see what the bring to the ice next year when they have the whole off-season to work on new choreography.

With the second-best international results of the Canadian junior teams this season, Andréanne Poulin & Marc-André Servant were hoping to finish on the podium in Victoria. Unfortunately, their familiar foe, the twizzle sequence, got the best of them once again. Poulin had struggled with the twizzles in the short dance, and in the free dance, Servant fell right at the start of the twizzle sequence, which meant that they only received level 1 for the element, along with -2 GOE across the board.

“I’m a little disappointed in myself,” Servant said about the mistake. “But all the other elements were exactly how we wanted [them] to be.”

Poulin & Servant begin their Somewhere in Time free dance with aggressive music that, in addition to ensuring that the program has the required tempo change and symbolizing the struggle of a couple trying to fight through time, gives them extra attack through the twizzle sequence. When the element is done well, the music is effective, especially as they change gears quickly, their skating softening as the drums fade into the familiar theme from Somewhere in Time.

After the mistake, though, Poulin & Servant skated as if nothing had gone wrong at all, something they have been focusing on improving over the season.

“We’ve learned to let go when we do mistakes and just get back in the program,” Poulin said. “We just go full-out.”

The team even earned a level four for their circular step sequence, the second element in the program, something they have been working toward all season. Level 4 footwork is rare, even at the senior level, and Poulin & Servant made up a lot of ground with that element, which earned 9.17 points after positive GOE was added to the 8.00 base value. Their 67.33-point free dance gave them 118.04 points overall, .04 above the season’s best they set at their JGP assignment, and enough to stay comfortably in fourth place, up one spot from last year.

Elisabeth Paradis & François-Xavier Ouellette (pictured, right) capped off a strong season with a fifth-place finish and a season’s best score of 114.64. Sixth after the short dance, their 67.28-point free dance helped them slide past Laurence Fournier-Beaudry & Yoan Breton. With level 3 on both step sequences and level 4 on their spin and two of their lifts, they put down a strong effort that was accented by fun choreography in their jazzy take on “Bei Mir Bist Du Schön.” Some trouble with the twizzles meant a level 3 for that element and they did drop to a level 2 on their final lift, but the fifth-place finish was fantastic for a new team.

“We were pretty satisfied with what we did,” Paradis said, “but we can always do better.”

At first glance, it is Paradis & Ouellette’s lifts that make them stand out. The team uses a variety of levels and position changes, all while Ouellette maintains strong footing below his partner.

“Our coach is the best lifter in the world,” Ouellette said, referring to two-time world silver medalist Patrice Lauzon. “We work very hard on the lifts.”

“It’s one of our strengths,” Paradis said.

With one more year of international junior eligibility, hopefully, those wonderful lifts can get more exposure next year. This year, Skate Canada only used 10 of its 14 spots on the Junior Grand Prix.

Another team that missed out on JGP experience this year, despite skating well in summer competitions, was Fournier-Beaudry & Breton, who ended up sixth with 114.39. Their island-inspired free dance, set to “U Plavu Zoru” by Pink Martini, had a ton of charisma, paired with strong skating. Fournier-Beaudry & Breton edged Paradis & Ouellette on PCS, but were dinged for a few levels that set them just over five points back from their season’s best score. Although they earned level 4 for their lifts and level 3 for their diagonal step sequence, their circular steps were only a level 2, as was their spin.

Both partners were proud of how they skated, which was evident in their confident presentation throughout the program, but admitted a hint of disappointment in the scores. After they surprised at Challenge with a silver medal, they had high hopes of repeating a podium performance in Victoria.

“We’re a little disappointed,” Fournier-Beaudry said. “But we did a great job and our coaches are really happy.”

In their second year together, the team should be proud of the jump that they made, from seventh on the novice level last year to sixth as juniors this year. Like Paradis, Fournier-Beaudry also benefits from a July birthday, so they, too, will have one more year of junior eligibility.

“We’ll be stronger next year,” Fournier-Beaudry promised.

Perhaps the most delighted athlete in the entire event was Laurence Darveau. In the past three years, she skated at Challenge with different partners at the novice, junior, and senior levels, but never qualified for Nationals. This year, it was starting to look like she wouldn’t even have that chance, but in September, she teamed up with Jonathan Arcieri and they scrambled to get ready for Sectionals, then Challenge. And at Challenge, it happened again—they were less than a point from qualifying for Junior Nationals.

But a few weeks later, their coaches got a phone call. Two teams had withdrawn, and Darveau & Arcieri (pictured, left) were the second alternates. With trips booked to Victoria, they trained hard, wanting to make the most of the experience. With a total of 104.44 points and a seventh-place finish, the “experience” was everything that they had hoped for, and more than most expected from them. Their Bond-themed free dance had passion, drama, and secure elements. Besides a sloppy exit on the twizzles, which were rated a level 3, and a bit of slowness through their level 2 circular step sequence, they soared through their program. Their opening one-armed level 4 rotational lift, which carried great speed, even earned the only +3 mark of the competition. At 19 and 21, Darveau & Arcieri will have to move up to the senior level, but if they can make this much progress in just a few months together, they should be fine with a whole season next year.

Another team that made big strides in Victoria was another new partnership, Larissa Van As & Troy Shindle. They finished eighth, up five places from Challenge. With a score of 100.89, they broke 100 for the first time and improved upon their previous best score by almost ten points. Their classic medley of songs—“Ain’t That a Kick in the Head,” “The Very Thought of You,” and “More”—suited them perfectly, and they skated their free dance without errors, save for an early touch-down on the opening level 3 twizzle sequence. Their footwork earned level 2, and the rest of their elements were level 4. This was Van As’s first trip to Junior Nationals in just her second year as an ice dancer. Over the season, the team has really improved in their levels of confidence and performance while they are competing.

Finishing a close ninth, with 100.30 points, were Carolane Soucisse & Benjamin Smyth, another new team. Last year, Soucisse won a bronze medal at the pre-novice level, but made a big jump to skate at the junior level with Smyth, who had finished fifth as a novice last year. They lost levels on their opening spin in their Love Story free dance, earning only a level 1, but they were skating fast and well right up until their last element, the dreaded twizzle sequence. Soucisse lost her grip on the catchfoot, which would have affected their level anyway, but then Smyth fell, resulting in a level 1 element with negative GOE. Besides that, though, their elements were quite strong—they earned level 4 for the lifts and level 2 for the step sequences. The team has a strong connection and should benefit from this experience as they approach their second season as juniors.

With a ninth-place free dance to “Mi Mancherai,” Jade Marrow & Allan Stoll pulled up 10th overall, earning 100.04 points. Aside from a stumble in the diagonal step sequence, they had a great skate, performing their choreography well and earning level 4s for their lifts, twizzles, and spin. Both of their step sequences were only rated level 1, though; with higher levels on those, they could have moved up even a few more places. Eighth last year as novices, Marrow & Stoll have made a good transition to the junior level, but in the future, can improve even more by skating with more speed and connection to each other.

Josyane Cholette & Simon Proulx-Sénécal dropped from ninth to 11th after mistakes in the free dance, scoring 94.98 points overall. A fall going into the third lift, an intended straightline lift, prevented them from even beginning the element and earning any points for it, so the mistake was quite costly. Aside from that, Cholette & Proulx-Sénécal skated with good expression, although they seemed more cautious overall than they were in the short dance.

Finishing 12th with 93.53 points were Olga Lioudvinevitch & Benjamin Mulder, who re-formed an old partnership last summer after skating two seasons with other partners. Their only major mistake was on the twizzle sequence, when they almost collided. The element was called level 2 and incurred negative GOE. Aside from that, they had a solid performance, highlighted by three secure level 4 lifts.

Sara Aghai & Qwynn Dalmer were ranked 13th with 91.80 points. Aghai fell on the opening twizzle sequence, which was hit with a level 1, but the team fought back and hung on to the character of their Triplets of Belleville free dance. Their level 4 lifts were done well, especially their final fast rotational lift, and they earned level 2 for both of their step sequences. Unfortunately, it does not appear that their strong choreography and interpretation were rewarded by the judges at this event.

With a spirited Feet of Flames program, Sarah Clarke & Steven Clarke finished 14th with 86.79 points. Both siblings had trouble with the twizzles, which were called level 1 with negative GOE, and they dropped to a level 2 on their curve lift later in the program, but overall, they skated with good energy and performed well.

Jazz Smyl Joly & Ryan Behnia were 15th with 81.66 points. They struggled on the spin, which was only rated level 1, and had some shaky moments in the level 3 twizzles, but they hung on, stayed on their feet, and fought through the entire performance. Their no-handed, upside-down level 4 curve lift was one of the highlights of their “Snowman” program.