(September 9, 2003)
By Gayle McClelland, Skate Canada National Teams Director
A fantastic day for all of team Canada today at the Nebelhorn Trophy in Obertsdorf, with medals awarded in two events and Canadians taking top spot in both the pairs and mens events.
Canadian Nicholas Young who won the short program with a decisive victory, came out for the free program and maintained his focused approach. With the inclusion of a triple axel, quad toe, triple salchow/triple toe combination and excellent triple lutz, flip and loop, Nicholas had a good base for his technical scores. The second mark components (presentation) were also good, and enough to earn him a second placing in the free program. American Scott Smith - a neat skater with excellent jumping style won the free. Nicholas had built up a lead in the short program, and would not be overtaken in claiming the gold medal. A beaming Nicholas called home to let his parents know his results. "it is the first international event I have ever won" he said, " I have been second before and I have been third before, but never first. I like it!" Nicholas Laroche, another American skater claimed the bronze medal to round out the men's podium.
The ladies competition also started today, and Canadian Lesley Hawker took to the ice with confidence. In a beautiful turquoise beaded dress, Lesley presented herself well, and earned her place in the top group of the event. With many seasoned competitors in the field, Lesley focused on doing the best performance she could. Her hard work and dedication paid off, as she skated a near clean program, with a step out on the triple lutz combination, but successfully completing a triple flip in the short, for the first time. American Jennifer Don won the event with the successful completion of all of her elements including a triple toe loop and triple salchow. Enhancing her technical scores were extraordinary spins, and good footwork sequences. " I felt great" Lesley commented. "I can see based on the marking of the event, some areas that I can improve on and get more points. It is awesome - you really know what you need to work on. My spins are going to be much better the next time I compete - I know I can get some more marks there" she commented. "I am trained and ready for the free program tomorrow - I can't wait!"
Another american, Amber Corwin finished the day in third place. The free skating will take place tomorrow.
The ice dancers had the original dance to look forward to, and both Canadian entries did everyone proud. Tara Dougherty and Tyler Myles were the first Canadians to skate, and performed an expressive and technically sound OD to a blues and jive. Their technical mark was among the best in the event, and allowed them to move up two spots into 8th place. "We knew we could move up a couple spots today" Tyler said, " and we can move up a couple more spots tomorrow." Tara and Tyler have been strong on OD and free dance practices, and will be looking for another solid performance tomorrow. Team mates Judith Longpre and Shae Zukiwsky were also right on track with an inspired performance. Their required elements also, gave them good technical scores - even though they were 6th in the compulsory and also the OD, the team lost one placing and ended the day in 7th. Strong freedancers, with a unique and difficult program, Shae and Judith will continue to impress and are looking at moving up the rankings.
The pair result was also an outstanding one for team Canada and in particular coach Richard Gauthier who teaches both Canadian entries in the event. Utako Wakamatsu and Jean Sebastien Fecteau won the free program and the overall pair title with a good free program. A miss on the first planned triple jump (a side by side triple toe loop) was inspiration for the team to include a second successful triple. Side by side triple salchows showed the audience and panel that this team has the skills to be successful on the international stage. They were rewarded with top scores and the gold medal for the event. Fellow club mates Pascale Bergeron and Rob Davison were also solid tonite. Skating to "The Planets" they were aggressive and fought throw each element with determination. Their performance moved them from third after the short, to capture the silver medal. Both teams were proud to see two Canadian flags raised in the awards ceremony, and hear the Canadian anthem played for the second time tonight.