Athlete’s Perspective: 2017 Skate Canada Challenge

by Anthony Campanelli | Photos by Danielle Earl

Greetings from Pierrefonds! The 2017 edition of Skate Canada Challenge has come to an end and boy was it ever an action-packed competition. Greeting nearly 500 skaters from coast-to-coast, it’s safe to say that Challenge is the most intricate and complex competition Skate Canada holds annually. Here’s my story.

I skate for Quebec at the novice level in ice dance with my partner Charlotte Lafond-Fournier. It’s our second season together in novice, making this my fourth season competing novice and her second. We train out of St-Hubert, Quebec along with a slew of other dance teams. Charlotte and I have been getting new personal bests at every turn so far this season.  We even snagged the provincial title in our category.  We tend to keep things nice and real whenever we near a competition. Everything just gets louder in its own sort of way, I guess.

For skaters in novice through senior, Skate Canada Challenge serves as the qualifying round for national championships which are held in January after the holidays. The first 15 dance teams from each respective category get to advance to nationals. For Charlotte and I, nationals in January are the next best thing. The juniors and seniors, however, are going to be battling for spots at the Junior and Senior World Championships.

Photo by Marthe Beaudoin

Challenge was very nice to us this year. We got on the ice on the first day and gave our pattern dances all we had. I like the blues the most because Charlotte and I spent a lot of time figuring out how to interpret the dance in spite of what it asks for technically. It also got to be my personal favorite because the juniors do the blues as part of their short dance this year and we were lucky enough to be surrounded by some of the best junior short dances to use as examples for ourselves.

Our only mission was ascension when we ended up finishing in 10th after the pattern dance event. Knowing that we had a pretty strong free dance program, I knew it we could rise up in the rankings.  Needless to say, we couldn’t wait to get out on the ice to do our free dance the following day.

We give our free dance so much attention in training it’s almost hilarious. We skate to the Swan Lake ballet suite; such a perfect piece of music for Charlotte and I given that we both like ballet and dance arts so much. I’ll be the first to say that your programs are a lot easier to train when you have a reinforced connection between you and the concept behind them. Being on home turf made it even easier for us to get out there and get the job done well. We ended up scoring a new personal best in the free dance and moved up four places overall with the fourth best novice free dance in Canada, so far.

Challenge itself got even better afterwards. Our training mates Alicia Fabbri and Claudio Pietrantonio achieved a new personal best and we even saw our companions Marjorie Lajoie and Zachary Lagha break Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir’s long held Canadian junior free dance record. I’m anxiously looking forward to heading out to Ottawa in January for the Canadian Tire National Skating Championships. 

A big thank you to our coaches Julien Lalonde, Mylène Girard and our artistic coach Catherine Pinard, none of what we do would be possible without you! I’d also like to extend a very big and special thank you to the team Quebec volunteers for all their help and implication into making our competition nice and pleasurable as well as easier for us to go through!

Until next time and happy holidays everyone!