by Beverley Smith
(4 February 2013)
Then there was Larkyn Austman, the girl with the memorable, almost musical name.
Austman won the junior women’s title with surprising polish and moxie for a 14-year-old who skates – and looks – older than her years.
She easily won the short and long programs, the short by almost six points and the long by almost 20 points for a total of 149.75, just short of Meagan Duhamel’s mark of 152.40, set nine years ago.
Second at the novice championships last year (in her first year at that level), Austman took an early lead in the short this year by landing a triple Salchow – double toe loop combination, a double flip and a double Axel, but earning levels fours for her two spins and a step sequence (getting many +2s along the way).
Emotional little red-headed fireball Natasha Purich, 17, who also competed in junior pairs, finished second with a triple toe loop – double toe loop. This Alberta skater who trains in Montreal was the 2009 pre-novice champion in Canada
Justine Gosselin, 19, who won bronze at the novice level four years ago, finished third in the short after missing her triple Salchow combination.
Melodie Dore, 16, from Montreal, finished only tenth in the short, but this girl - 17th at the qualifying event this year, and 32nd the previous year - , was shooting for the moon. She fell out of an opening triple flip and intended to try at triple Lutz – double toe combination but entered the Lutz on the wrong edge and underrotated it.
Cailey England, from the prolific Mongrain stable in Kelowna, B.C., also attempted a triple Lutz and intended to do it in combination, but fell and finished 12th.
In the long, Austman ruled, tall and elegant and skating to a mature number, Danse Macabre. She astonished everybody by landing a double Axel – triple toe loop. Another triple Salchow combination was solid and a triple toe loop just sung. She landed a triple loop slightly off balance and stepped out of a double Axel, but when she finished, her young coach Keeghan Murphy jumped up and down at the boards and everyone else agreed: she got a standing ovation.
“It’s a big jump from novice to junior,” Murphy said. “We started building the program in the summer and we’ve been adding one technical progression per competition and it’s getting better.”
Listed coaches Heather Austman (mother) and Eileen Murphy (mother of Keeghan, a former senior men’s competitor) have watched her set tougher and tougher goals, but all of them achievable. “She’s been doing them in training,” Keeghan said. “We took some risks in the long program. She knew she could do it, because she was doing it in training.”
“I’m quite proud of her being able to handle all of this,” said Eileen. Next year, Austman will have to jump to the senior ranks and take on a bubbling number of talented teenagers there. “She’s totally capable,” Eileen said. “She understands the process. She’s not the type of kid who if you put a challenge in front of her, she’s going to do it. She will take it on. She will be relentless.”
If she sounds a lot like senior champion Kaetlyn Osmond, well she is. Canada has never seen the like. “There’s a new breed,” Eileen said. “There’s a whole group of them now.”
Keegan noted that Austman saw Osmond do a double Axel – triple toe loop, and new senior silver medalist Gabrielle Daleman do a triple toe loop – triple toe loop, and she thinks she must do it, too.
The attitude is spreading quickly among Canadian women. And the members of this young crew are no longer shrinking violets. “Larkyn watches her competitors,” Eileen said. “She watches the ones ahead of her and she gets very set in her mind.”
Where have they been all these years?
The other women at the junior level fought hard for the rest of the medals. Marika Steward , 15, who trains most of the year in Sendai, Japan, with Nanami Abe, finished second in the free with three triples, one of them a triple toe loop – double toe loop –double toe loop combo. She stumbled out of her most difficult jump, a triple loop. Young Steward is hoping in the future to represent Canada in international competition. Born in Kitchener-Waterloo, Steward has been improving: she finished 25th at the qualifying event a year ago, but was fifth this season. Coming from sixth after the short, she has now won a silver medal with 123.85 points. .
The bronze medal went to Madelyn Dunley, 15, last year’s novice champion. Dunley finished seventh in the short program with a triple Salchow-double toe loop combination but could barely wait to get onto the ice for the long. She rallied to land a triple Lutz and a double Axel – triple toe loop. She underrotated a couple of jumps, falling on one of them, the triple toe loop. She earned level fours for both of her spins
Little Purich dissolved into tears in her parents’ arms later, after finishing fourth, missing a medal by only .14 points after falling on a couple of triples.
And yes, Cailey England landed a triple Lutz – double toe loop combination, although she received some negative GOEs for it. She fell on a second attempt at a triple Lutz and finished eighth overall.
This event was marred by the absence of a future star: Roman Sadovsky, who suffered a stress fracture in the bones near the toes of his right foot just before the Canadian championships.
A student of former Canadian champion Tracey Wainman and her partner Gregor Filipowski, Sadovsky is a 13-year-old wonderkid, who finished third at a Junior Grand Prix in Lake Placid, N.Y. early in the season.
“He has a wonderful body,” says Louis Stong, development consultant for Skate Canada. “He can stretch and he can hold and the spins are fast. On a camel spin, he gets right in on the outside edge, and that body just stretches out for days and he gets those six turns in, and then he reaches back and does a variation, then he reaches with the other arm, and changes, does another variation. Level four. Oh my god.”
His jumping had been improving, too. He’s already doing triple-triple combinations. He has all the triples but an Axel and he’d been working on it.
Sadovsky did not want to stop. He wanted to be in Mississauga. “They literally had to drag him to the doctor,” Stong said. The doctor told him he had to stop skating.
Still, Sadovsky would come to the rink. He’d put his bag in the dressing room, come to the side of the boards and start his warmup. When he finished, he would just stand and watch the sessions. “It was breaking everybody’s heart,” Stong said.
There’s something about little Roman, when the music comes on, he becomes whatever the music tells him to become.
He was missed.
His training mate, Anthony Kan, 17, won instead, although Wainman buried her face in the curtains while he skated his long program, seemingly afraid to watch.
There were no triple Axels to be seen among these young lads, but Nicolas Tondreau-Alin, 17, attempted a quad in the freeskate. It didn’t go well. He fell three times, but we digress.
Kan, the novice men’s champion a year ago, won the short program in Mississauga with a triple Lutz – triple toe loop combination, and triple flip. He fell on the easiest jump, a double Axel, but he earned level fours on two spins and his step sequence. One judge was so impressed with his footwork that he/she gave him a +3 for it.
Denis Margalik, who was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, but now has to admit that he lives in Mississauga, finished second in the short with his Chopin number and a triple Lutz – double toe loop combo. He, too, had a triple flip.
Third in the short was Nicolas Nadeau a 15-year-old with promise and personality. He attempted a triple toe loop – triple toe loop combination, but lost some points on it. A spin went awry. He’s been the bronze medalist among novices last year.
In the warmup for the freeskate, Tondreau-Alin landed a quad, but came unhinged in the actual freeskate, falling on the quad, putting a hand down on the triple Lutz, falling on a triple loop, and then falling hard on a double Axel, all early in the program. Things picked up after that, enough for him to finish sixth in the free, and ninth overall.
But Kan saved the day for Wainman, winning the free and the overall title with 167.54 points, well off Elladj Balde’s record of 184.89 set five years ago. Skating to Gethsemane, Kan stepped out of a Triple Lutz that was supposed to be a combination, landed a triple flip – double toe loop, stuck both of his hands onto the ice on a triple Lutz, and fell on a triple flip. He landed three clean triples. He was jubilant.
Margalik, 15, took the silver medal with 164.60 points, with a second place finish in the long, only a point behind Kan. Margalik celebrated in the kiss and cry with his arms in the air after landing triple flip and triple Lutz combinations, a triple Lutz slightly off balance, and a triple flip. He slid off a double Axel.
Mathieu Nepton, 18, second last year at the novice level, finished well back in third, with 149.90. Nepton landed a triple flip – triple toe loop combination.
While Nadeau was capable of a charming, good skate, the long program slipped entirely from his grasp, and he finished sixth overall. Don’t count him out in the future. He’s a comer.
Last year’s novice champions Hayleigh Bell, 16, and Alistair Sylvester, 18, swept right into Mississauga and won the junior title as well. Only two years ago, they were competing at the pre-novice level. Next year, they’ll have to step up to senior.
They won the short program by more than five points and met their goals in the long: to get the triple twist in and land both of their triple throws. Check.
In the long, they triumphed with a double Axel, a throw triple loop and a throw triple Salchow, a level four lift, two spins that earned them level fours.
They train in Barrie, Ont., with Lee Barkell.
The young pair won with 140.60 points, well short of the mark set by the high-flying Katherine Boback and Ian Beharry, who got 152.65 at the Junior Grand Prix Final in Quebec City. Beharry has a new partner and skates at the senior level.
Natasha Purich, 17, and Sebastian Arcieri, 18, won the silver medal, after being second in both parts of the event. In total, they earned 131.65 points. In the long program, they opened with a triple toe loop – double toe loop combination, then followed with a double twist – for which they received a level three – a throw triple toe loop a throw triple Salchow, and two spins rated a level four.
While the top two teams have had experience this year in Junior Grand Prix events, bronze medalists Mary Orr, 16, and Anthony Furiano, 22, have not. Trained by former Olympic competitors Kristy Sargeant and Kris Wirtz, Orr and Furiano were intrepid, attempting a throw triple Lutz, which many of the senior teams don’t try. They didn’t land it perfectly, but they did land a throw triple Salchow and deliver a well-done triple twist that earned them a solid row of +2s from judges – and even one +3.
The junior dance had Megan Wing and Aaron Lowe written all over it again as their junior stars, Madeline Edwards, 16, and Zhao Kai Pang, 17, won the gold medal, and their teammates, Caelen Dalmer, 15, and Shane Firus, 18, won the bronze medal after shaking off the disappointment of a sixth place at the Challenge (qualifying) event, when a final rotational lift came undone.
Winning the silver medal was Mackenzie Bent, 15, and Garrett MacKeen, 18, who had led after the short dance. They are trained by Carol Lane and Juri Razgulajevs.
Edwards and Pang rarely lose any contest, having rung up a list of firsts from the time they took juvenile dance in 2009 at the Junior Nationals, and novice dance two years ago. Last year, in their first year as juniors, they were second.
In the short dance, Bent and MacKeen used their “I Never Met a Wolf Who Didn’t Love” music to good effect. They edged Edwards and Pang by 1.61 points, earning 60.62 points and level fours for all but one of their elements, the midline step sequence. Edwards and Pang got level fours on only one element, the straight-line lift. Judges rained +2s on both teams.
Dalmer and Firus, who are close in size, were well back in third with 52.73 points. Firus is the younger brother of Liam Firus, who finished third in the senior men’s short program.
In the free dance, Edwards and Pang earned back their deficit and more to win that section with 86.26 points, 2.37 points ahead of Bent and MacKeen.
Edwards and Pang’s final score of 145.25 was the highest total score by a Canadian junior dance team since the short dance was introduced. A score of 151.35 by Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir at a Junior Grand Prix in 2005 included compulsory dances.
Watching the junior dance were Virtue and Moir, who were “just blown away” by the quality at that level. “The kids can twizzle, the kids can spin, they’re just great skaters all around,” Moir said. “We’re going to be such a force to be reckoned with [in the future] in ice dance, an event in which Canadians do well, because we have such pure skating skills.”
Virtue said the innovation among the juniors was “topnotch” and their transitions between elements is rarely seen in a lot of ice dance throughout the world. “We were on our feet for the junior champions,” she said. “It was a magnificent program. I can’t wait to see what they’re going to do.”
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