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Posted By SkatingPj

By her own admission, Canadian Ice Dance Champion Vanessa Crone is easy going, dedicated, motivated and competitive who says "skating life." By my admission she is also friendly, warm and intelligent.  Having parted ways with her  partner of over 10 years, Paul Poirier, she finds herself at a crossroads. To understand where she's going, you have to understand where she's been.

Vanessa says that her partnership was valuable in so many ways: "I was able to see what a best friend was like and going through good and bad. Paul liked me for me." That support was key. "I wouldn't have been able to do anything without Paul as my partner and accomplish as much. Although there is success and failure he taught me that there is passion outside of skating."

There is no doubt that both skaters had lessons to offer each other. "I think something that Paul taught was to do your best and expect nothing less. I think I taught Paul to stay grounded and to never get caught up in anything positive or negative; to stay focused on ourselves." This focus was possible through the love and strong support not only from fans, but her parents, coaches, judges, Skate Canada, sponsors, mentors and the media - Vanessa is quick to express her profound thanks.

She shared two highlights among the many from her skating career to date: taking the ice for their first Olympic practice in Vancouver, they realized that there was as much applause and support for them as Olympic champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir. Then there was winning the senior national title this year: "We wanted that for a very long time so standing on the podium and getting the medals was a really special moment."

That was then and this is now and Vanessa talks about continuing in skating and has been on the ice since the split happened around the beginning of May: "I have been on the ice a couple of times a week doing my own thing; just training and keeping myself busy. I don't want my skills to get rusty and I have even just ordered new skates." Being on the ice alone has been difficult: "I am so used to having someone there." Bit by bit she is adapting to her new "normal".

"I am definitely looking for a new dance partner and I want to find one and continue competing and if I don't I might start skating singles again or even get into coaching." Of the many possibilities available to this talented skater, it is clear that her heart is still in ice dance: "I am starting try outs around the beginning of July and would prefer to find a Canadian partner but am keeping myself open to other possibilities."

It would seem to me that the possibilities could be endless for Vanessa on and off the ice. School is important to her and Vanessa's plans include the University of Toronto in September 2012 where she wants to study nutrition, psychogy with an interest in kinesiology.

The talk though always comes back to skating and what her future holds on the ice:

"As far as who I get - I am open to moving to different coaches and locations if that's what happens. I feel like this is a new chapter and I want to start over with everything. Starting fresh would be my hope and a different atmosphere and location could be helpful."

As skating fans, we are used to only ever seeing Vanessa with Paul - which doesn't mean to suggest that there is no Vanessa without Paul. Some of skating's best stories come from the "comebacks" and the "re-births" and I for one am looking forward to the next chapter in the Vanessa Crone story - look for her in a rink near you - very soon.

Posted By SkatingPj

Skate Canada recently announced  a 10 year deal with CTV/TSN to bring the 2 annual domestic figure skating events to Canadian fans. Almost from the moment the announcement was released, I started receiving messages via Facebook (mine and Skate Canada's), email and Twitter (@skatingpj) asking what this meant for me and the coverage on Bold and the main network. I didn't have any information but when and if I did, I said would write about it here.

It was just announced on Wednesday that CBC and the ISU have reached a five year agreement regarding the TV rights in Canada for international figure skating events like the Grand Prix Final, the Four Continents and Worlds among others. 

I reached ISU Vice-President David Dore for comment:

"I am very delighted at the commitment shown by CBC in this new contract with the ISU. They have shown their belief in and enthusiasm about the current direction of ISU Ice Sports and a keen interest in keeping the Canadian fan base keenly abreast of the development of skating athletes the world over. The futire looks very bright for all parties and I am very encouraged by this direction in sport in Canada and the world. I look forward to future CBC programming and the world coming to Canada."

I was as interested as anybody to find out on a practical level what this means as far as coverage for the upcoming season. CBC's  Senior Director, Sports, David Masse had this to share

"Figure skating is extremely important to CBC. Our commitment has been unwavering and we have demonstrated that commitment by covering Canadians as they compete against the best in the world and by finding new and innovative ways to appeal to skating fans."

The specifics of exaclty what and how things are going to look have still to be determined because, well, it's tennis season <lol>.

Jeffrey Orridge took the position of Executive Director CBC Sports Properties in early April and is the man under whose watch this deal has happened. I wanted to know  from him, on behalf of fans, what place does international figure skating hold in the overall picture for sports on CBC?

"Basically the agreement fulfills CBC's promise to deliver marquee signature events that both entertain and engage Canadians. It allows our viewers to watch Canada's best and the world's best compete in not only figure skating but speed skating because that is what the deal encompasses."

More exciting for me in my conversation with Orridge was to find that he believes, as do I, that sport is a way of connecting people.

"The whole impetus behind this part of what our mission is, is to showcase Canada and Canadians in professional and amateur sport and connect Canada through nation building events. Those defining moments in Canadian sports: seminal moments like Worlds or the Stanley Cup that galvanize people and communities. Figure skating's community is connected by presenting the pre-eminating events from around the world."

Commenting on the fact that there are different levels of communities: cultural. geographical as well as groups with a common interest, I was especially interested to hear Orridge add  " serve the needs of the Canadian public."
In the meantime, Canadian fans can revel in the fact that there will be more and better skating coverage on TV from events at home and  around the world than pretty well anywhere else on the planet!

Go Canada!

Posted By SkatingPj

Hi skating fans - I received this note not long ago from Jeremy Ten who has graciously given me permission to re-print it here in its entirety. It details his recent injury and prognosis. Jeremy's words are in italics.
What exactly happened:
I was going super fast as I always do riding the edges as deep as I could, in other words, being a gazelle on the ice. I was doing, or at least attempting, one of Megan Wing's stroking exercises (may I point out again that I was going super fast and super edgy) where I do a right inside twizzle into a beautiful landing stretch ALL on ONE foot; amazing I know. Well, the edge that I was riding was a little too deep and as I was coming around on myself the edge slipped out from underneath me. My left leg, which was in the stretched position, decided to bend at the knee and the pick went into the ice getting stuck as I was in rotation and falling (again at a relatively high speed) not to mention I fell literally on top of the was a very awkward fall. The torque and pressure combined with the speed and awkward positioning caused my foot to twist resulting in a spiral fracture of the fibula. 
At the hospital, the on call ortho surgeon said stuff about putting in plates and screws because there was some displacement of my ankle but he discussed this procedure in a way where my career was just a minor detail in all this. So I wanted a 2nd opinion from someone I know and trust as welll as is knowledgable about athletic sport injuries; someone who would not only take my career into account but my future as well. So I called my surgeon (yay me for being proactive!) who operated on my right foot in January, Dr. Dory Boyer, who asked to see me right away. He believes the injury isnt as bad as what the 1st surgeon made it out to be and is 90% sure I won't be needing surgery. He'd like to wait a week for the swelling to go down before we make a final decision because lets be honest, who wants to have plate and screws in their ankle, not me.
Recovery at this point pending on what we find out about ligament damage and whether or not I will be needing surgery is looking like 6 weeks before I can start rehab. I have been keeping in contact with Marni Wesner and giving her full updates on what has been going on as well as she has been keeping in contact with Dr. Boyer over the last couple days about everything. I am in good spirits (as you can hopefully tell by my lame jokes) and there are some plus sides to what has transpired:

1. My right ankle will get even more time to heal which I think is a blessing in disguise

2. Adele was cancelled on Tuesday so I didn't have to miss it and will instead be watching her at the end of the month, dodged a bullet there thats for sure

3. With all this crutching around this year my arms and upper body are gonna be HUGE not to mention I will be doing lots of upper body stuff while my lower half is out of commission which can only equal to 2 things = awesome beach body and perhaps a career in pairs? (endless possibilities)

4. More time to pick the best music for the best new long program eveerrrrrr

5. I'm only going to become stronger from this

6. My autobiography is going to be amazing

BING BANG BOOM conclusion: Jeremy is going to be back in no time and hungry.

Pj's Conclusion:  If anybody can come back better than ever - Jeremy Ten can. Get well soon! For Jeremy fans - you can post your get well wishes here on my blog and I will make sure Jeremy sees the messages.

******    Check out my Website  *********

Posted By SkatingPj

Vanessa Crone and Paul Poirier at COS Show
The dynamic Canadian Dance Champions Vanessa Crone and Paul Poirier have ended their partnership. Paul spoke to me:  "I am doing ok.It was definitely a hard decision for both Vanessa and I. As you know we have both been a huge part of each other's lives for a very long time." His tone is thoughtful and his responses are considered and articulate. "We had a difficult Worlds and I know some people are going to think that this is about that. I can honestly say that isn't true. We are not quitters and we have never looked at a defeat as the end of the road.I can tell you it wasn't any one specific thing, but we just weren't moving in the same direction anymore." He acknowledges that he started thinking about this once Worlds were over and they each had some time off. "This was not a decision that was months and months in the making. I embraced last seaon wholeheartedly but when I had a good think, I knew the decision was right."

Is there any one thing the partnership has taught him? "It's hard to choose just one thing, there are so many but I think the value of taking in other people's perspectives. I am a stubborn person  and like to have my way and over the years to learn to work as team to get where you want to go has been so important.The value of hard work and how to work with other people.Also she's taught me things to improve myself as an artist, as a skater and a dancer. It's been more than half of my life." He continues by talking about what he will miss about Vanessa: "She has been a staple in almost every day of my life. It's going to be a bit different. I will miss a lot of the conversations we had and our ability to work and still fit fit in conversations about our life."

Paul admits to being uncertain about what the future holds and is sure that Vanessa is in the same spot. With that uncertainty though, there is a feeling of apprehension (in a good way) - excited for what the future holds while still being a little intimidated. Not one to back away from a challenge, he is back on the ice. Two weeks ago he skated for the first time without Vanessa and is still getting used to it. He is finding it difficult to fill his time without programs to focus on but has found satisfaction in helping some of the younger teams at the rink. He also says that he feels kind of lonely and that being on the ice kind of empty. Paul is quick to point out though that he still wants to skate. In the not too distant future the hunt for a new partner begins which could extend across Canada and  beyond: "I could be looking outside of Canadian borders. International partners are a lot more common than they used to be. I will be doing many tryouts to find out what will be best for me as a skater and as a person too -- not just a cold hearted athlete. Success is never at the cost of our happiness.I have to look around. I haven't even given it much thought...yet" He says that if he needs to sit out a year to create an international partnership, he accepts it as the price to pay.

"I think I would like to talk about how grateful I have been for the last 10 years. It has brought me through the years that have made me the adult I am today. I am grateful for all of the support that I have received and I am so grateful for the gift I have been given to express myself through and to be able to live my passion for skating."

The real gift as far as I can tell has been to us, the audience.

Thank you Vanessa and Paul for 10 great years and a great ride!

Posted By SkatingPj
I will admit the weird and wonderful world of hospitals is a bit of a mystery to an outsider like me. My knowledge comes from watching one too many TV hospital dramas which will explain my reaction to th following:

The scene was set with my mother looking somewhat less than a faded beauty rose and more like a wilted dandelion as we headed into the 12th hour of this visit to the ER. She was “resting” (by resting I mean sitting up wide awake) on the “bed” (by bed I mean large flat rectangle; covered in plastic with matching plastic pillow thing in the middle of the room) attached to a myriad of wires and finger clamps dedicated to recording her every erratic heart beat. I will admit that for “yuks”, we occasionally put the finger clamp on my finger just to see if anyone would notice the rate change and then collapsed around the place laughing at the naughtiness of it. 

Out of nowhere, my mother’s heart monitor number started to jump around. So I watched and tried to appear normal as the number went from 87 to 132 to 52 to 67 to 13 to 90 to 0!!!!  ZERO ?!??!!! What the..?? I had certainly learned over time to say lots of medical buzz words and knew how to toss them correctly into sentences without really understanding what they meant BUT I did understand one thing and that was as far as hearts go, zero wasn’t a great number. What to do? What to do? I said tentatively over top of the beeps "How are you feeling Mom?” She said “Cranky. This noise is a little wearing could you go find someone and make it stop?” Thinking quickly, I said sure. Hmmm..where were those crash carts? Where were the people running in at breakneck speed to yell things like STAT and CLEAR? Surely a ZERO heart rate had to be worthy of some extra attention?  As I walked (scampered?) looking for Nurse Cathy to turn off the damn monitor OR bring in the paddles or whatever else they had to do to stop the beeps and/or revive my mother whose heart rate was a ZERO. I thought to myself that the brain, seemingly unaided by a beating heart, was a marvelous thing. Or maybe it was a case of and/or her will to live being so strong that although her heart rate said ZERO she hadn’t acknowledged it yet and was therefore upright in her “bed” frowning at me when I returned without anyone. I was relieved to see that her rate was up to 71, then 132, 64, 89, 13, 47, 63, 7..”beep, beep, beep” “What’s my number?” said my Mom who couldn’t see the screen. “Um .um 88!” I said triumphantly (and at that moment, it was). “PLEASE go get someone” she said. Out again I went and I was not going to be deterred this time. I mean, it would be way more embarrassing if my mother died because I didn’t want to disturb someone. How would I explain that in a well-written G & M Obit?

 Suffice to say, I found a warm body who assured me that a heart rate bouncing between 158 and ZERO was nothing more than a loose wire somewhere between Mom and the monitor and definitely not worth a “Code Blue Hair” or whatever they say over the loud speaker when a senior goes for a little in-house cardiac excitement. 
I returned to the room confident in my newly-found knowledge and secure in the fact that her body wasn’t going to slump over in a heap when her brain finally caught up with her heart’s ZERO reading. Whew – paperwork and tricky questions averted! 
“What number is it?” my Mother asked me again as the monitor resumed its’ incessant beeping. 
“Funny enough, it’s ZERO but you look like a 93…so it’s all good.”




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