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Posted By SkatingPj

Patrick Myzyk
So how does a nice Canadian boy end up skating for Poland? It's quite simple - looking for the chance to compete internationally, an opportunity presented itself for Patrick Myzyk and he took advantage. He had always wanted to compete for his country and didn't feel as if he would get the chance as a Canadian skater.

At the 2011 Liberty competition with coach Angela Derochie, Patrick is a man on a mission. This is his first season representing Poland and he is eager to get his 'ducks in a row'. One of those ducks is a consistent triple Axel. When he first started thinking about skating for Poland he was working on his own a year ago. he started working with Toronto area coach Robert Burke who eventually led him to colleague Angela Derochie. Patrick asked her if she could teach him a triple Axel? "I did a triple Axel so I can definitely teach you one." Angela recalled with a chuckle.

One of the challenges skating in Canada and representing another country is the jet lag. Angela commmented on the cooperative nature of the Polish federation in the back and forthing of setting up Patrick's schedule. As a result, the pair will be travelling in August to Obertsdorf, Germany for the Nebelhorn competition and Bratislava for 2 back to back events representing 2 weeks of travel and only 1 time change. The alternative would have been an appearance at another event a week later which would have meant three weeks away from home.

Patrick's parents are from Poland and he speaks Polish fluently. Torun, the location of the MKS Axel Club and Patrick's new home club is also the city where his father grew up while his mother is from Gdansk. Appearing at last year's Polish Nationals as a guest, Patrick is feeling very much at home and is feeling better prepared and earlier heading into the new season.  the date for his Nationals are not yet confirmed wlthough will be taking place some time in December. Interestingly, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia combine their resources in an event called Three Nationals. The 3 countries hold their Nationals together and there are medals awarded for each country highest placed competitors as well as medals for highest overall placings.

Patrick's plan this season is to gain consistency with his triple Axel and to get his triple/triple combinations going. Pasquale Camerlengo is responsible for Patrick's SP choreography to a violin version of ACDC's Thunderstruck, while Julie Marcotte's choreography is the backdrop of his Safri Duo medley free program.

Here are comments from Patrick and Angela about their plan:

 

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Posted By SkatingPj

Jessica Dube and Sebastien Wolfe 2011
Canadian pair champion Jessica Dube found success with longtime former partner Bryce Davison who was sidelined in the Fall with a serious injury to his knee requiring surgery. Looking to make a fresh start, Dube is joined this season by new partner Sebastien Wolfe who is a pair skater looking to make the leap on to the big stage with only three years of pair experience.  Not knowing what to expect, I stayed late the night before they competed their free to watch them practice. At 6'2" tall, Sebastien already has a physical presence that is hard not to notice. Watching them in practice, their potential is clear. They have speed and strength on their side even with only about 6 weeks of solid training experience.

Coach Annie Barabe's perspective can be summed up this way: "The biggest challenge in the last couple of years has been Jessica's consistency in the jumps and the throws. I want her to get confidence and consistency and that is what I am working for."

Annie's thoughts:

In the midst of interviewing fellow Canadian and 1989 World Silver medallist, Lyndon Johnston, Jessica and Sebastien got on to the ice and into position without me noticing them. It was only when Lyndon had to go because he wanted to watch them that I wrapped up what we were doing and turned my attention to the rink and started to record the team on the ice. At a certain point in my line of work, you can recognize skaters, even  from a great  distance based on their (familiar) silhouette. As I was taping the team on the ice, it took me much more than a moment to recognize the skaters. The broody intensity of the Philip Glass music (including selections from Heroes) and the intricacies of the David Wilson choreography coupled with the elongated body line of the team paints a completely different picture from what I expected. The skaters, coach and those of us standing around watching would have to agree that this program is a departure for them from the 'expected'.. "We knew we needed something different" said Jessica.

Here are some highlights from their Liberty free program:

At this point in their training, appearing at the Liberty competition is for experience. Jessica said: "We don't know each other really well. We have been friends from the rink but in this case I didn't know what to expect. Now that the 'ice is broken' we can get home and working on things." Their short program was choreographed by Marina Zoueva and the skaters say simply  is a blues which again will give the pair a sophistication that will impress as they start to try and carve out their own niche on the Canadian landscape.

"It's normal to be a bit off." Jessica commented and in July it makes sense that with the programs so new, they would be considered a work in progress. With relaxed and happy faces they talked about their nervousness taking the ice, she not as much as usual and he more so. Satisfied on balance with getting 'out there' some of the highlights in their free included gorgeous side by side triple flips and strong triple loop and Lutz throws.

"Of course we have lots more to do." Jessica said. Clearly from both skaters, it looks like they are on the right path.

 

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Posted By SkatingPj

Cynthia Phaneuf pic at Liberty 2011
At the Liberty competition a little earlier today, all eyes were on the beautiful and graceful Canadian champion Cynthia Phaneuf as she took the ice for her short program.  Composed, it looked good as she started into her opening moves and what struck me was the huge leap in her maturity and confidence. Skating to the same music she used last year, Spanish Guitars, the nuances seemed to have been expanded and along with her powerful skating the program filled the rink.  Here is her Liberty SP posted with Cynthia's permission:

Although she had a problem with her Lutz today, history was made when she landed a triple loop for the first time in competition in her short program. "Training has been going very well at home and I landed the triple loop in this program first a couple of weeks ago and I think it was always Annie's (coach Barabe) to do it here so I am very happy with that." Annie told her that the loop was working very well for her in shows and she rarely missed it which would make it a good choice for the short.

Last season was filled with ups and downs for Cynthia who talked about feeling depressed after skating to less than her potential at both Skate Canada and World. For that reason, she is making "performance" her goal this season rather than focusing on numbers or results.

This is a good strategy for a skater who, when she is "on", can easily compete with the best in the world when it comes to musical connection, strength and power.

Cynthia spoke of feeling realxed coming into this competition and understands that this is the very first step in a very long season. Her goal is to create consistency from one competition to the next and to continue to become a better skater.  "I feel more ready this year than I felt the year before. I feel ready for this time of the year. I feel confident." That confidence translated into support from the crowd of "strangers" at Liberty which was a thrill for Phaneuf.

Here is a quick bilingual interview:

As always, Cynthia has a gold  pendant around her neck engraved with a Chinese symbol which she says means "always happy". Her mom bought it for her in about 2004 and it should serve as a reminder of how she makes us feel as the audience when she skates her best -

Always Happy :)


 
Posted By SkatingPj

Once again my good friend and I are on the road to the Liberty competition taking place in Aston, PA where almost 1000 entries were received and I have it on good authority that about 800 will in fact take their place at center ice.

On the slate for today (in between stops at the ubiquitous and very tempting shopping malls and Target locations) were the senior pairs short including the new partrnership Caydee Denney and John Coughlin. Each of these skaters are national champions with other partners and it would seem that putting them together would make a lot of sense. The funny thing is that on paper is one thing but in reality can be something quite different. In the case of Denney and Coughlin - think better. I know that there is the temptation to compare these two together with each of their former partners. I wouldn't bother only because they are beautifully suited and seemingly very comfortable and did I mention talented?? (Their triple twist is as good as anyone else's anywhere :)  )

John talked about returning from Worlds and was ready to walk away from skating. He spoke with Dalailah Sappenfield (his coach) about maybe starting to coach. She asked him to hold on for just a little bit because she had an idea that he should try out with Cadey. "There is no accident that Caydee and I got together. I think my (late) Mom was looking out for me." This statement is accompanied by a warm and engaging smile from John who continues by saying "Caydee was the one person who would have been able to have me continue in skating."  Both skaters showed real promise in their debut here with a short program choreographed by coach Dalilah who said that she knew that they would be able to get the "tricks" once they got their timing down. http://tinyurl.com/6hxev5w
Aside from the 3 Twist, they also had beautiful side by side 3 Toes and a great throw triple Lutz.  The free program was choreographed by Marina Zoueva to a version of Nessun Dorma which includes selections from Vanessa Mae and Jeff Beck. John says wryly that Marina doesn't believe in transitions that would be easy for pair skaters and has them doing various hand holds and changes of position. "It's a tough program - especially the transitions" he says.

Catching former Canadian champion and World silver medallist Lyndon Johnston who was in the building at the boards for another up and coming US team - Felicia Zhang and Nathan Bartholomay  had this to say: "I think the pair's field can be summed up in one word : Exciting!"

Caydee Denney is a young woman living in the moment but with her eye on the future: "I have talked a lot about pushing towards Sochi but also want to enjoy the process along the way."

With their first outing out of the way, they can settle in and continue to develop their potential which they have in boatloads. Keeping in mind that they have only really been working for under 2 months - it will be wonderful to see what they will be able to do given more time.

With a smile on his face, John Coughlin says: "I am very happy and very blessed."

If I said it once - I'll say it again - the pairs will be taking centre stage this upcoming season.


 
Posted By SkatingPj

Patrick Chan at today's press conference
Well it has been a busy time for four time and defending Canadian champion and 2011 World champion Patrick Chan. There has ben the creation of a new free program and the birth of his newest Quad - the Salchow - here in his own words:  http://tinyurl.com/6cuc5fpHe says with confidence that he will start the season with a quad in the short and at least 2 in the free and by the end of the season is looking to have maybe 3 or 4 depending on how things go.  He confirmed that he is keeping the fabulous SP from last season which will undergo some minor tweaking.

The real news is the free program whose music is still under wraps but is everything that a skater could hope for. "Lori and I were at (music editor) Lenore (Kay's) and had pretty much decided on some music and were just about to leave when Lenore said wait a minute, there's just one more piece I want to play for you and that was it." He says he feels a huge connection emotionally to the music and cannot wait to get it out there. He even said that after a run-through he is often left with goose bumps. He explains: "It's all three things: it's the music, it's a composed piece not from a movie. The reason why the composer wrote it  is amazing and of course the beautiful choreography from Lori Nichol." For Patrick, this program delivers the 'whole package." "I feel good about it. The program is 'seamless' and what I mean by seamless is that there is no distinction in the music. It flows from one section to the next. Do you remember the middle section of my Phantom program where the music changed and I rested? Well this program is nothing like that" He continues by explaining that it is even more demanding than anything else he has done.(That's hard to imagine).

Although he knew that with a record setting score and large margin after the SP at Worlds in Moscow that he was in striking distance of his first world title, he left the competition a little less than satisfied with his equally brilliant free program. "I didn't feel as emotionally connected or as attached to the Phantom program as I do to the program I will be doing this year. It was almost as if I went and did my job and left although I am thrilled to be World Champion."

His biggest goal for the season is to win Worlds again. Patrick is honest enough to say that winning the title once isn't the problem - it's defending although he feels up to the challenge: "I am excited to almost be starting from scratch this year - it feels almost as if I haven't ever won Worlds. I have had a good feeling ever since working on this free program. It feels good."

What else feels good is the support Patrick receives from not only family but ordinary Canadians. It is just such a group who are busy working on a fundraiser to take place at the Premiere Ballroom and Convention Centre in Richmond Hill on September 9th, 2011. If you want more information email fundraiser@patrickchan.ca. In the meantime, I secretly hope that this will inspire more people in more communities to help Canadian amateur athletes. Big or small, financial or moral - it all counts.  Patrick talks about the fundraiser and the support of the community here: http://tinyurl.com/68qr8cz.

On the calendar are trips for Patrick to perform and/or train in China, South Korea, the USA, Canada and Japan; all before the regular season starts and one that promises to be outstanding.


 


 
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