Northern Lights #3: Tardiness, Koalas, and Poland

I apologize for getting behind on blogging this week due to some unexpected work chaos, back pain, and other various commitments. As a result, this week’s post will have to be short because the soft glow of my computer screen is going to lull me to sleep if I sit here for too long. Don’t worry, though…I still love Canadian dance. (You weren’t worried, were you?)  And it’s a real struggle for me to write anything terribly short, so I’ll still cover this week’s news.

Australia Congrats

I would like to publicly extend congratulations to Nicole Orford & Thomas Williams for their JGP win in Brisbane last weekend! Their score of 127.21 is the highest dance score in the series so far (of just two events, but it’s nice to say), and they set ISU personal bests in both dances. They even surpassed the scores they’ve set in domestic competitions so far this season. And even better than getting good marks, they really skated well, with good flow and command of the ice. I was especially moved by their Gone with the Wind free dance, which I’m going to assert was their goal. Well, not to affect just me, but the audience in general. If you’d like to see for yourself, here’s the short dance and here’s the free dance.

Nicole & Thomas are back to training in Vancouver for a couple of weeks, and will compete again on the series at the fifth event in Innsbruck, Austria. Their next event won’t feature any side trips to meet koalas and kangaroos, but it will be in the city where ice dance was first contested as a part of the Olympic Games, so it’s still pretty awesome.

Sara Aghai & Jussiville Partanen, Nicole & Thomas’ training mates in Vancouver who skate for Finland, finished a solid sixth with 95.88 points.

Two Teams in Gdansk
For the first time this year, Canada was offered and decided to use an extra spot on the Junior Grand Prix. I am so thankful that they have extra spots and are using them, because the depth of the junior field in Canada this year is intense. It is wonderful to see so many teams get a chance to compete internationally. This week, the teams on the roster are Victoria Hasegawa & Connor Hasegawa and Noa Bruser & Timothy Lum.

The Hasegawa siblings are in their second year on the JGP, back after a 10th-place showing in Japan last year. After a transitional year that saw them change coaches in the summer (to Marie-France Dubreuil and Patrice Lauzon) and then peak at the 2011 Junior Nationals, where they won the bronze medal, they are sure to improve their international ranking this year. They will try to charm the judges with their “Cha Cha Cha d’Amour” short dance, and then they will make an about face with their free dance to music from Black Swan. In Lake Placid, their free dance was scored much lower than I expected it to be, but then they jumped about 20 points two weeks later at the Québec Summer Provincials. I think that their free highlights their lovely positions and graceful skating, but I would love to see them bring the drama! As for their short dance…I learned the hard way that it makes a lot more sense when watching from the judges’ side. In Lake Placid, I didn’t understand it at all, but I went to the “wrong” side of the arena to get different angles from all the other photographers we had on the “right” side. But then when I watched the video from Provincials, I got the dance and thought it was adorable. Fortunately, I have it on good authority that the judges will be sitting on the judges’ side in Gdansk. Patrice is coaching them in Poland while Marie-France gets ready for Season 3 of Battle of the Blades.

Noa & Tim are part of the dynamic dance force that has erupted in Vancouver under the coaching of Megan Wing & Aaron Lowe. Noa & Tim are two-time silver medalists at the national level (pre-novice in 2010 and novice last year), and they’ve kicked off their first junior season with more silver medals—at Minto Summer Skate in both dances, and at BC Summer Skate in both dances. Not a bad statement to make! Their short dance is to “Get Up Offa That Thing” (yes, really) and it just has loads of energy and shows off both athletes as great performers. Their Gotan Project tango free dance is intense and aggressive, and they have skated it extremely well both times out this year, but it hasn’t impacted me like last year’s dance to The Wiz did, at least not yet. They were such wonderful storytellers in that program last year, and I find myself missing that. Of course, showing different styles is a big part of establishing a reputation, so I look forward to seeing how this program will develop this season. Coach Aaron is with them in Gdansk after being in Australia last week, since he & Megan are expecting twins very soon and she’s considerably less able to travel. I envy Aaron’s jet-setting travel schedule, but not the jet lag he’ll have when he gets home.

All in all, it is quite likely that European teams will dominate this event, but I think that either Canadian team could be an unexpected spoiler if they seize the opportunity and skate well.

Canadians Baily Carroll & Peter Gerber are also competing in Gdansk, representing Poland. I missed mentioning them in my first post, when they competed in Latvia and placed 12th. Baily & Peter were fourth at Junior Nationals on the novice level in 2010, before deciding to represent Poland, the country of Gerber’s heritage. They train in Barrie with David Islam.

Missing Autumn Skate
I need to give my most heartfelt shoutout to the dancers competing at Autumn Skate in Ottawa this weekend, the parents that always stop to say hello, and the EOS volunteers that made it possible for me to eat regular meals at a competition (quite a rarity!). After two years of shooting the competition, I’m not making the trip this year and will really miss it. The roster is a solid one—8 seniors, 8 juniors, 9 novices, and 9 pre-novices, with entries from EOS, QC, AB, and SK.

I don’t have the time or space to mention every team, but a couple of the notable entries include Sarah Arnold & Justin Trojek in senior (their second competition this year, and the first in Canada) and Laurence Fournier-Beaudry & Yoan Breton in junior (just assigned to the JGP last week).

A couple of new teams will be making their competitive debuts here as well. Jazz Smyl Joly & Nick Jesionek are entered in the senior free dance, representing Alberta. Jazz recently relocated to Texas to train with Nick, who has competed nationally in the United States. Auvikki de Boon & Tanner White are entered in the junior short dance, representing the Netherlands. Tanner relocated to Detroit in June to train with Auvikki, after having skated for EOS throughout his skating career thus far. Both Jazz and Tanner trained at Minto in Ottawa, so this is a homecoming for both of them (though Jazz’s true home is in AB, she lived in Ottawa for 3 years).


If you’d like to check out the rest of the teams, rosters (and eventually, results) are available here.

JGP Assigned!
Laurence Fournier-Beaudry & Yoan Breton received word last week that they will represent Canada in Brasov, Romania at the 4th JGP event. This will be their first international assignment.

Caelen Dalmer & Shane Firus also received good news recently. Their names are on the roster for the 7th event in Estonia, released this week, and this will also mark their first assignment.

I’m about to turn into a pumpkin, so that’s all for this week, but I’ll be back in a few days with next week’s news! Once again, questions/comments/suggestions can be sent to [email protected].