(November 20, 2009) – The 2009 HomeSense Skate Canada International began Thursday with an opening press conference.  The members of the Canadian team shared their excitement about their journey as they look forward to the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver.

The Canadian team features eighteen athletes from across Canada.

Tessa Virtue, 20, London, Ont. and Scott Moir, 22, of Ilderton, Ont. see this event as an opportunity to get valuable feedback from the judges.

“One of the best parts is knowing what (elements) we can improve right after the competition,” said Scott.  “I attribute that to the new system.  That’s why I think skating has come so far because if you’re not getting the marks, there’s a reason why and you can see that.”

“We’re really thinking long term and February is where we want to peak, so we’re right on track,” said Tessa.

Waterloo’s own Kaitlyn Weaver, 20, and Andrew Poje, 22, are looking to perform three successful programs here this week as they aim for their ultimate goal of making the Olympic team.

“We knew at the end of last season that our goal was to make the Olympic team this year and we’ve made such great strides this far.  We’ve taken every day as a new challenge and we’ve gone farther than I thought we could ever go in such a short time,” Kaitlyn said.

Joannie Rochette, 23, from Île Dupas, Que. reflected on her performance at Cup of China, an early Grand Prix event.

“China wasn’t what I wanted it to be but I was feeling good before leaving.  There were no major technical mistakes in my skating in China, I just had mental mistakes,” Joannie said.  “Every competition is different and so for this one, every time I go out there I just want to take this as preparation for the Olympics and enjoy the crowd.”

Jessica Dubé, 22 from St-Cyrille-de-Wendover, Que., and Bryce Davison, 23 from Huntsville, Ont., have good memories of the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium, where HomeSense Skate Canada International is being held.  They won a silver medal here at the 2005 ISU World Junior Figure Skating Championships.

“That was an interesting competition because Jess was just coming off knee surgery and we weren’t in the best of shape.  It was a difficult competition but it was one we grew a lot from,” said Bryce.  “It was the year before the Olympics and we were asked what we thought about our possibility of making the Olympic team the next year.  We thought there was no way possible but a year later, we were in Torino.”

Patrick Chan, 19, from Toronto, Ont., had to withdraw from Moscow’s Rostelecom Cup earlier this season after complications with the flu and an injury to his calf muscle.  This marks his first event of the season.

“I will make the best out of this event for sure.  I don’t have that first Grand Prix to work the kinks out so this performance has to be as if it were my second, even though it isn’t,” said Patrick.  “I worked with my choreographer, Lori Nichol a lot.  A lot more than I could have if I was competing in Russia.  So I hope to show the audience and the judges that I wasn’t slacking off and I’m ready for this Grand Prix.”

Skaters had the opportunity to practice Thursday. The first event of the competition begins Friday with the pair short program at 11:50 am. 

Watch skatebuzz.com for behind the scenes interviews and coverage.

Tickets are still available online at www.centre-square.com, by phone at 519.578.1570 or 1.800.265.8977, or in person at The Aud or at the Centre In The Square box office. Single event tickets range from $17.50 - $48.50, plus applicable surcharges. All-event ticket packages are still available for $145, plus applicable surcharges.
 
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