Northern Lights #15: State of the Season

I haven’t forgotten about Northern Lights…at least, not completely! My life veered a little closer towards insanity than usual this spring, and I apologize for the unplanned silence on this blog. My last posts were from Canadians in January. Since then, I have been keeping busy with my work at here at IDC, writing for IFS, and launching my photography business, all while still working retail. Good thing it’s the off-season!

Speaking of the season, I can’t emphasize enough how impressed I am with the level of ice dance in Canada. I had such an incredible time at Canadians, and that was mostly due to the incredibly high level of skating from the dancers at all levels. It’s an exciting time to be an ice dancer in Canada, and it’s also a difficult time, since so many talented teams are striving to reach the top. I respect all of the teams that competed this season and thank them for their contributions. And I suppose it is too much to outline the past few months of Canadian dance in the detail that I’d like to, so I’ll stick to the highlights.


Virtue & MoirSecond World Title for Virtue & Moir

I doubt anyone missed it, but Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir picked up their second world title in March. They struggled with achieving level 4s all season, but a season full of tweaking their programs paid off in Nice, where their score of 182.65 was even higher than what they earned at the Canadian Championships. They surpassed Americans Meryl Davis & Charlie White by four points. That result was reversed a few weeks later, though, at the World Team Trophy, capping off a season of see-sawing between the world’s top two teams.

Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje turned in a fourth-place finish, up one spot from last year, scoring 166.65. They were over six points from the podium, but they certainly won the crowd over with their emotional performance of their “Je Suis Malade” free dance. The program, which has been an excellent vehicle for them all season, was flawlessly delivered and earned a standing ovation. While I am sure that they are proud of their terrific season, I have no doubt that Kaitlyn & Andrew are already setting their sights on an even stronger finish next year. 

At their first World Championships, Kharis Ralph & Asher Hill also exceeded expectations, bringing the crowd to its feet with their tango free dance. Skating in the second flight, they were perhaps marked a little low, and I think that they deserved to finish a place higher. As it was, though, they ended the event in 13th place with a score of 129.55.


Time to Say Goodbye

I always dread the first few weeks of the off-season, when news about retirements and splits trickles in. After a season of covering teams, it’s hard to say goodbye to any of them, even if both partners still continue in the sport. 2011 was a brutal year for splits all across North America, and thankfully, I don’t think that 2012 has been quite as dramatic. This is not a definitive list, but here are some of the teams who have ended their competitive partnerships after the 2011-12 season:


Tarrah Harvey & Keith Gagnon – 7th at Canadians; retired

Shanna René de Cotret-Laporte & Alexandre Laliberté – 10th at Canadians; split

Olga Lioudvinevitch & Benjamin Mulder – 12th at Canadians; split; Lioudvinevitch retired

Hélène Létourneau & Kevin Boczar – 13th at Canadians; retired



Rachel Kirkland & Christopher Lettner – 9th at Canadians; split

Josyane Cholette & Simon Proulx-Sénécal – 11th at Canadians; split

Laurence Fournier-Beaudry & Yoan Breton – 12th at Canadians; split; Breton retired

Rebecca Nelles & Nicholas Lettner – 13th at Canadians; split

Carolane Soucisse & Benjamin Smyth – WD from Canadians; split



Jade Robitaille & Dominic Barthe – 6th at Canadians; split

Audrey Croteau-Villeneuve & Simon Longtin-Martel – 7th at Canadians; split

Christina Penkov & Christopher Mostert – 9th at Canadians; split

Bianka Gadosy & Simon Dazé – 10th at Canadians; split

Elise Von Holwede & Eric Streichsbier – 15th at Canadians; split

Cassandre Lapierre & Malcolm Jones – 19th at Challenge; split


If I have made any errors, I apologize. Please let me know so I can update the list.


Harvey & GagnonHanging Up the Skates

Retiring from competitive skating is often a difficult decision to make. Sometimes it’s something a skater feels all season as they plan for their final Canadians, and sometimes the realization does not come until the post-season break. And while I respect those decisions, I always feel a twinge of sadness at knowing that I won’t see someone through my lens again. 

So a heartfelt thank-you to Tarrah & Keith, Olga, Hélène & Kevin, and Yoan. I’ve enjoyed photographing all of you immensely over the past few years. I hope that many years down the road, you’ll look back and remember the moments that you created on the ice.

I know that I have a ton a memories, like Olga in her 2009-10 Russian folk OD—that dance was one that I just loved photographing. I remember the first time that I saw Yoan & Laurence skating together, at Challenge in 2009, when they’d only been together a couple of months. They captivated me from the beginning. I have photographed both Hélène & Kevin and Tarrah & Keith many times over the past five years, and watching both of those teams grow has been so rewarding. I have to thank them for moments like this and this. I loved being present for Hélène & Kevin’s first “big” nationals in London, and I will always fondly remember the standing ovation for Tarrah & Keith’s Chaplin free dance at the same event. 

Again, send me an email if I’ve missed your retirement. I’d like to recognize everyone and don’t mean to leave anyone off.


Looking Ahead

In my next post, I’d like to announce and preview new teams that will make their competitive débuts this summer and fall. I’ve heard a few rumours, but I won’t post anything without confirmation and permission. If you’d like to tell me about a new partnership, send me an email. Thanks!