Two-day Grand Prix schedules are grueling! I don’t know how the French have been doing this for so many years. Four sets of free programs made for a long day yesterday, but fortunately, the day was full of memorable moments. And the best part about today’s schedule was getting to sleep in, just a little bit, since I didn’t have to be at the rink for dance practice. I had planned to celebrate the final day of the event with breakfast at Cora’s, but when my alarm went off at 6.30, I reset it for 8 and fell right back asleep. For me, this was pretty huge…I’m rarely too tired to go out for breakfast. Ah well. I’ll treat myself to brunch one day this week at home.

But back to yesterday. The day started off with a bang when Canadian Kaetlyn Osmond’s free skate seemed to say, “Pressure? What pressure?” I was so impressed with the way that she stood up to the sudden media hype and really delivered. She still has some growing to do before Canada christens her “the next Jo,” but she’s straightforward about her own capabilities and seems to have a great head on her shoulders. Plus she has shown that she can compete. Much of the rest of the ladies event was a bit lackluster—I much preferred the short programs overall—but I also really enjoyed Akiko Suzuki, whose program just flew by for me.

The pairs were up next, and again, the home team delivered. Meagan Duhamel & Eric Radford were not perfect in their free skate, but they got all of their elements done, proving that they are gaining consistency with their ambitious technical content. I actually preferred their program to that of the champions, Aliona Savchenko & Robin Szolkowy. Savchenko & Szolkowy were stunning in many of their technical elements, but I did not care for their program and found the costumes distracting. It was also terrific to see Stefania Berton & Ondrej Hotarek deliver to win the bronze medal. They were so enchanting in the press conference after the short program, making me instantly want to see them succeed.

The men closed the day yesterday and I’m sure that Skate Canada expected the day to end with another rendition of “O Canada” when they arranged the schedule, but instead, we heard the Spanish national anthem. What an exciting moment for Javier Fernandez, and what a deserving podium. None of the medalists were perfect, but all built solid foundations for the season, and I thoroughly enjoyed each of the programs, something I haven’t said too often about a men’s podium.

Which, of course, brings us to dance. Everyone is talking about Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir’s free dance, and all I have to add is that they really surprised me. I wasn’t expecting to like their free dance, but I think it’s fantastic. It needs more time and perhaps a few tweaks (and some colour on her dress, please?), but what a way to start the year. All of the teams skated well and although there were some technical issues below the podium, the performances were strong—and photogenic! So a big thanks to all eight teams for a strong and enjoyable event.

Off the ice, I have to give props to Anna Cappellini for being a press conference rockstar, especially after the short dance. Everyone was exhausted, skaters and journalists alike, as the press conference didn’t get started until after 10.30. We tried to make it quick and only asked a few questions, but whenever Anna answered a question, she lit up the whole room and made me feel like the most brilliant person in the world for thinking of such a terrific question.

It’s been such a busy weekend, I apologize if I know anyone who was here and didn’t have a chance to catch up. This a nice new rink, but it has some of the same traffic flow problems as the old ones—it seems I spent half my time between events pushing my way from one end of the concourse to the other. (I also apologize if I smacked anyone with my camera bag while trying not to arrive fashionably late to the press conferences.)

Anyway, I suppose I will try to get caught up with some photos before the gala begins in about an hour. I’ll have a few more Skate Canada-related thoughts in my next Northern Lights post, but until then…I’m signing off from Windsor!