MONTREAL, QC: In 2004, a new figure skating star burst onto the Canadian scene. Cynthia Phaneuf, 24, Contrecoeur, Que., rose swiftly through the junior ranks to win her first Canadian title at the Canadian Figure Skating Championships, held in Edmonton, Alberta that year. Now eight years later, after a lengthy international career, she has decided to retire from the amateur world of figure skating, but plans to remain connected to the sport she loves.
Phaneuf, a native of Contrecoeur, Quebec, announced her retirement today in front of family and friends in Montreal, Quebec. She was also Canadian Champion in 2011, and represented Canada at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver. Her best international placement came in 2010 when she finished fifth at the 2010 ISU World Figure Skating Championships, just missing the bronze medal by 1.08 points.
Skate Canada President, Benoît Lavoie, said Phaneuf inspired other skaters to follow in her path. “Now we often see girls make that leap from junior to senior at an early age, but Cynthia was really the first skater to do it, and she set an example for other young women to follow. She also brought a unique style to her skating. Her wonderful ability to interpret passionate music gave her a very special presence on the ice. We will miss seeing her compete for Canada, but wish her the very best as she moves on in her career.”
Phaneuf, who began skating at the age of four, plans to stay involved in the sport. “Skating will always be a part of my life. I have learned so much from the discipline of training every day, pursuing my dreams and working hard to achieve my goals. I have a number of options right now that I’m considering, but I know that I want to contribute to the sport in some way, and definitely to stay involved with the skating comunity.”
She also paid tribute to the many people who helped her pursue her dreams as a skater. “I would first like to thank my family, especially my parents who supported me through so many years of training and competing. I had so many coaches who helped me to grow as a skater. I want to thank Annie Barabé, Sophie Richard and Yvan Desjardins from Contrecoeur, and then my recent coaches Brian Orser and Tracy Wilson for the impact they each had on my career. They each contributed to my development from learning jumps and footwork to putting the whole package together on the ice and preparing me to compete. And I had many special people in my life who offered me encouragement and supported me as a person as well as a skater; they all know who they are and what they have meant to me.”
Phaneuf also thanked the organizations who were such an important part of her career. “The volunteers and staff at Patinage Quebec were always there to assist and guide me from the earliest competitions, taking me to our sectional championships and helping me at my very first national championships. I really appreciate the caring relationship they built with me as a young skater. And as I matured and became a member of the national team, I received the same supportive guidance from Skate Canada. Throughout the year in my training, and at every competition, I knew that I had a strong team behind me, and I want to thank everyone at the national office who gave me such confidence and encouragement.”
Skate Canada’s High Performance Director, Mike Slipchuk, acknowledged Phaneuf's contribution to skating and to Skate Canada. “Cynthia's determination and dedicated work ethic enabled her to win two Canadian Championships and represent Canada at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games and numerous World Championships. She has been a big part of our National Team and was respected by her teammates and peers. We look forward to her continued involvement in skating in Canada."