News and Views from the world wanderings of Pj Kwong.  Finally!  A place for all of the things I write and think about!

Posted By SkatingPj

I know!  I was excited too!  I ran into author and amazing sports writer Steve Milton in the hallway of K-Rock Centre in Kingston where Skate Canada International is being held and asked him about his new book:  TESSA & SCOTT - Our journey from Childhood Dream to Gold ( by Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir as told to Steve Milton).  He said in his own self-deprecating way - "Naw I was just the transcriber."

It doesn't really matter how this book came to be - I am delighted that it has. 

For anyone who has known Tessa and Scott or for that matter for anyone who would like to understand them better, this book  is about them much more as people than as skaters.  It is exactly the kind of storytelling that gets me every time and it has the bonus of lots and lots and lots of pictures!

They are small town kids and have small town values which is likely why we have all fallen in love with them.  Yesterday, as they stood beside me on BOLD to talk about the Golden Waltz before the dance event, they were thanking me for having them.  Imagine that - as Olympic and World champions they are at a stage where they don't really need to thank anyone for anything and yet they do - their charm and grace is disarming and delightful.  Like me, they are willing to be a part of fundraisers for clubs and from the emial that was sent to my own club, North Toronto - you can email

If you are lucky enough to be in Kingston - Tessa and Scott will be at K-Rock Centre for a booksigning/autograph session @ 1:30pm today (Saturday).  If you are in the Toronto area - here are a couple more dates:  Monday, Novermber 1 - Indigo store @ 2300 Yonge and Eglinton @ 7:00pm and then Tuesday, November 2 - Roots General  Store - 100 Bloor Street  W@ 6:00pm for their book launch at the store's Grand Opening!  All are welcome!

I got mine early and (am thrilled to say) had it autographed - you're going to want to get yours too! I have to put mine down to get back to work - so many of the people and events are familar to me and skating fans it transports me right inside their lives.

It's going to be a skating book kind of holiday - great books for all the skating fans in your life!  Aside from my book, Taking the Ice - Success Stories from the World of Canadian Figure Skating you will want to get : Tessa and Scott's Book - available at fine book stores everywhere!!  


Tessa and Scott - Our journey from Childhood Dream to Gold

By: Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir as told to Steve Milton


House of Anansi Press Incorporated

ISBN 978-0-88784-273-3



***Taking The Ice *** also on sale in Kingston at K-Rock or ***


Posted By SkatingPj

Pic of Josee Chouinard with Pj's Pic
Well...although it was 2 weeks ago, it feels like the launch was just yesterday for my first book Taking the Ice. (

I want to share a couple of things - first of all - if you are knee deep in skating, as I am, there will be pictures that will crop up unexpectedly from time to time.  My book launch was at The Granite Club, where I skated as a kid. My "good friend" (more on that later)2 time Olympian and 3 time Canadian Champion and Granite Club coach Josee Chouinard started telling me in Vancouver at the Olympics that she had a "surprise" for me - and then she would start to laugh maniacally and scamper away.  Apparently, Barb S (Skating administrator) had done a massive clean up of boxes at the Club and located pictures from the Club Competition in 1968 where I won something.  Josee decided it would be fun to frame it and to include it as part of her introduction of me at the launch. She (kindly) didn't mention it was the last time I won anything and kept her giggles in check at my very fashionable sailor dress for which I am grateful.  It could have been worse - I might have had a grandmother who had knit me a skirt complete with matching panties and a bonnet!  Sleep with one eye open Josee! :)

I thought incorrectly that the lion's share of the work would be the writing of the book - I was wrong.  There was a lot of effort that had to go into the launch of the book on the part of me and my family, Josee,  as well as Robert Morgan of BookLand Press. Then there was the sneak peek Short Dance Exhibition from Granite Club skaters and 4 Continents' Champions Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje which really helped to set the "skating" tone of the event.

I was grateful for the support of Skate Canada's Debbi Wilkes and CBC's Chris Irwin who both spoke about skating in Canada in glowing terms.  It was also an amazing gift to have photographer Justine Chiu capture all the special moments.  (

It was a little strange to get up and speak and to  be able to talk a little about some of the conversations that I had had along the way with Canada's best skaters, coaches and choreographers.  To be able to finally talk about David Wilson who almost quit skating prematurely, Toller Cranston who sees himself as an alchemist, Barbara Ann Scott who values duty and honour to one's country over anything else was a treat.  Then there was the chance to share the details of the Vancouver experience of Joannie Rochette through the eyes of her legendary coach Manon Perron. To look out and see Tomas Verner and Vanessa Crone and Paul Poirier in the audience re-living Vancouver was a privilege and maybe shed a tiny shred of light on the fishbowl that is an Olympic Games.

I felt like a kid with a delicious secret as I spilled the beans that there had already been serious talk surfacing of a "deal" regarding the 2002 Olympic pairs title at a social function at Skate Canada in October of 2001. Thrilled to hear and write the 37 stories in that section?  You bet!

Small wonder writing the book never felt like work.Hope you like it! Thanks to all of my supporters and guests for a magical event! 

******  Get your copy of Taking The Ice *** got to for info ***


Posted By SkatingPj

I am sitting in an internet Cafe in downtown Barcelone, Spain having promised myself I would intermittently work on this vacation.  So much for well laid plans!  So far - I have been able to fry my favourite travelling kettle (disabling my ability to make my morning DHB (delicious hot beverage), I have either broken my laptop or simply been unable to charge it using my transformer and I have gone blind trying to read teensy weensy email messages on the idopey gadget my daughter just gave me when she upgraded to an idopy-er.  I guess I should have been paying closer attention when she was explaining it to me?  The good news is that I have been able to master the games - like Angry Birds and Stackít - so all isn´t lost.

The bad news is the notes on my book launch, Jeremy Ten, Christy Krall and the like will have to wait...

More good news:  the more sangria I drink, the more fluent my Spanich becomes!  This brings me to the ponytail reference.  I am in Barcelona with my Aunty J who was to have come with my Mom who cannot travel due to illness.  As a thank you, I booked tickets for us to attend a Flamenco show last night.  The show was glorious and the dancing superb and since I am more about the dance than the singing, it was perfect!  For real, I do speak Spanish (and Aunty J whose late husband was a Spaniard does as well) but I have to be honest - the singers who accompany the dancers at a Flamenco show are mumblers.  I have no idea what they are saying although I do appreciate the passion with which they sing.  Aunty J´s Spanish, Sangria or not, is excellent and maintains that I am wrong when I say that the lady singer said ¨"my heart is bad", "I am cold" and for some inexplicable reason "I have an avocado".....

There were 3 women dancers (who had low ponytails) and 2 men - the men were powerful with one man much more agile than the other.  The women were totally mesmerizing with the final lady dancing in a dress with a very long train and a beautiful triangular shawl.  She was able to manipulate both the scarf and the train effortlessly in a variety of swooping motions that were amazing.  It started me thinking that I am going to devote the rest of my life to Flamenco - I already loved the guitar so now I am going to catch up by incorporating the dance steps into my regular life.  My plan is to wave imperiously at the fruit and veg clerk at the Loblaws and have my gaze never leave his when I ask "where can I find the star fruit?¨"  Mysteriously, with just a hint of a smile I am going to clap (at him) rhythmically and say "gracias" as I swish towards the bakery.  At this point, I am going to start to stamp my feet, maybe twirl just a bit and say "I am cold - where is the raisin bread?"  (The "I am cold" statement seems to be key in the song part).  Next stop is going to be the dry cleaners where I am going to rush in breathlessly and using only my (double hit of) feminine wiles: my beautiful flamenco hands and soft brown doe eyes (ok - my eyes are green) implore the nice lady to return my sweater jacket for "I am cold" and "it looks good on camera".

I love Spain.  I was last here 30 years ago.  Nice to be back.

I promise to dish on skating and my launch (which was FABULOUS!) as soon as I get home and/or resolve my computer troubles.  In the meantime -  VIVA ESPANA!!!



%%%%%     BUY Pj´'S BOOK TAKING THE ICE @  %%%%%%

Posted By SkatingPj

I have known editor Giorgio Saturnino and cameraman Carlos  Esteves for about 11 years and some of you may know them as well as the team responsible for the creation of all those really cool figure skating videos that are shown in the rink during competitions.  Giorgio went to see a screening of  Drew Barrymore's Whip-It starring Ellen Page during the Toronto International Film Festival and was immediately taken with the concept of the Roller Derby.  He spoke with Carlos and another friend, Ivan Landers with such enthusiasm that the seed for the proposed TV series Derby Girls was planted.

Their goal was to create a series revolving around the lives of the ordinary women involved in the sport.  They did their research and were lucky enough to enlist the cooperation of a Toronto area team called the GTA Rollergirls.  To start with, we meet 6 of the 8 characters in the trailer.  What the creative team speaks about with pride is the way that the Roller Derby women represent all kinds of different women and who are bonded in a kind of "athletic sisterhood."   Being able to bring real-life characters into the homes of Canadians is very important to Giorgio, Carlo and Ivan; in particular charcaters who have problems with family, jobs, weight, age and everything else in between just like so many others.  The women each had to submit a one page self-examination piece and it was from those stories that the initial characters were selected.They approach the matter with sensitivity and compassion while still allowing the women the freedom to express who they are.

The stories are as diverse as any others you will find anywhere and  cameraman Carlos has been able to take all of those years filming skaters on and off the ice and use it to capture emotional and compelling footgae to tell the tale.

Did you 1930, 93% of American kids rollerskated? 1948, the Dumont TV Network in the US had Milton Berle's show as its' #1 show and was closely followed by Roller Derby in th #2 slot.....Giorgio says that back in the day Roller derby was one of the sports where race didn't matter.

There was a celebration of sorts tonight at Revival on College Street in Toronto where the TV Trailer was being unveiled for the first time publicly.  The hope is that there will be a broadcaster interested in showcasing true stories of these everyday heroines in a series of 13 half hour episodes.  I am keeping my fingers crossed.

If you want to check it out - visit or email Giorgio at

Posted By SkatingPj

I know.  It's hard to imagine but if you had been in my place tonight, you would have felt the same way.

I was privileged to be invited to come and be the French announcer for the Opening Ceremonies of the 2010 Special Olympics Summer National Games taking place this week in London, ON. 

In many ways it was as if Special Olympics came full circle tonight as Dr Frank Hayden described how his inspiration for the movement came from an idea the he developed in a tiny office in Thames Hall at the University of Western Ontario in the early 1960s. I had also heard him speak in December at the Special Olympics Sports FestivalI  and am truly in awe of "the power of one."  Tonight, I got to speak to him, shake his hand and tell him that I feel like the world owes him one.   His accomplishments humble me and meeting him makes me feel like we all need to try harder and be better humans. 

From a modest beginning with 1400 athletes in three sports, Special Olympics has grown to over 34,000 athletes across the country with the top 1057 competing here for the chance to represent Canada in 2011 at the World Games taking place in Athens, Greece.

Ken Heslop, a (the?) Detective Superintendent for the London Police has been totally immersed for the last 2 years in his role of organizing the Opening, Closing, protocol and Medal ceremonies for these games.  His face beamed with pride as he told me "tonight was all about the athletes.  Everything we did was for them, their family and friends."  Ken and his team hit it right out of the park.  In addition to entertainment provided by 3 bands and dancers from Dance Extreme, there was a 13 yr old singer named Saveria who sang the National anthem as well as the Olympic "I Believe" song.  This girl has "the goods"  - watch your back Niki Yanofsky - there's a new girl in town!

As I faced the the crowd, the provincial delegations were seated in front of me and wore different coloured t-shirts in their provincial colour.  I was tickled to see the excitement on their faces as surprise after surprise was revealed during the Opening.  There was the helicopter, courtesy of the RCMP, that arrived on the field carrying the Special Olympics flag.  There was the arrival of the flame that was carried in by members of the Law Enforcement Torch Run.  There was a great moment when swimmer Alison Lang from London got up to take the athletes' oath.  She didn't have to say it on behalf of the athletes as all of the others joined her in a chorus of voices: "Let me Win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt."  and then with her voice at a fevered pitch, she yelled "Go Ontario!!!!"  Nothing restrained about that and it couldn't have been more refreshing.

The excitement kept on coming as a Tactical Unit truck carrying some pretty impressive looking officers on it did a pass around the stadium and came to a stop.  When the door opened none other than Don Cherry popped out.  He was set to present the flag that had just arrived by helicopter to the officer who was going to be raising it.  The crowd went wild.  When Don finally took his seat, he patiently signed autographs and posed for pictures when there was a break in the proceedings.  When he arrived on stage to speak, he delivered some great words of encourgament with the perfect Coach's Corner kind of delivery.  The athletes were thrilled to have a Canadian icon in their midst and for him to be exactly as you imagined he would be was wonderful.  He even smiled at me!   Hmmm...maybe the "dark side"  ( my term for hockey) isn't quite so dark after all.  I do believe I may have developed a crush on him!  Hard not to fall in love just a little bit on such a magical night.  



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