The next of the Big Four national championships starts tomorrow. It’s the Canadian Tire National Skating Championships, and change is the theme here this week. Only one of last year’s champions will be here to compete - Gabrielle Daleman makes her season debut after taking the fall off to take care of her mental health. It’ll be a mix of familiar names and new names.
Official hashtag: #CTNSC19
MEN Top 5 Predictions
GOLD Keegan Messing
SILVER Nam Nguyen
BRONZE Stephen Gogolev
4. Roman Sadovsky
5. Nicolas Nadeau
One familiar name is missing here - Patrick Chan won 10 of the last 11 Canadian men’s titles, but he retired after the Olympics. The guy who won the 11th title of those 11 titles? Nam Nguyen - he’s looked resurgent and with new confidence this season and will be back in the mix. Keegan Messing comes in as the favorite, having been the sole Canadian to make the Grand Prix Final in the fall. He will need to not overthink or overdo it this week if he is to win his first Canadian title.
But there’s also the rise of Stephen Gogolev, a skater that Canadian fans have been very excited to see rise up the junior ranks over the past few seasons. He was all of 10th here last year, but he’s been making waves this season, most recently winning the Junior Grand Prix Final in style.
DANCE Top 5 predictions
GOLD Piper Gilles/Paul Poirier
SILVER Kaitlyn Weaver/Andrew Poje
BRONZE Laurence Fournier Beaudry/Nikolaj Sorensen
4. Carolane Soucisse/Shane Firus
5. Haley Sales/Nikolas Wamsteeker
Oh boy, this one might be a really close call. Each of the top three teams has their own advantages coming into Canadians. Piper Gilles/Paul Poirier has had the most reps in international competition - which mean lots of feedback for their programs, absolutely crucial when the gold might be determined by levels. Kaitlyn Weaver/Andrew Poje have won this thing before, and they are the most decorated team here - but their last competition was in September before they embarked on a 30-city tour. That said, they performed their rhythm and free dances every single day on the tour, which could bring out a whole different level of performance from them. That, combined with strong levels on their elements, could get them back up to the top for their third title.
There’s an X factor here - and that is former Danish team Laurence Fournier Beaudry/Nikolaj Sorensen. They make their debut at Canadians this season, having made the country switch after last year. They have been top 11 in the world before and could throw a wrench into the entire thing.
PAIRS Top 5 predictions
GOLD Kirsten Moore-Towers/Michael Marinaro
SILVER Evelyn Walsh/Trennt Michaud
BRONZE Camille Ruest/Andrew Wolfe
4. Lori-Ann Matte/Thierry Ferland
5. Justine Brasseur/Mark Bardei
Just six pairs in this senior field, the Canadian pairs competition did lose some of its firepower after Duhamel/Radford retired and Seguin/Bilodeau and Ilyushechkina/Moscovitch split. This leaves Kirsten Moore-Towers/Michael Marinaro as the heavy favorites in this event. Should Moore-Towers win here, she would make it back on top of the podium after an eight-year absence. She last won this event with Dylan Moscovitch in 2011. The rest of the podium will be determined by which of the up-and-coming teams - a nod to the changing landscape of Canadian pairs this season.
LADIES Top 5 predictions
GOLD Gabrielle Daleman
SILVER Alaine Chartrand
BRONZE Larkyn Austman
4. Veronik Mallet
5. Alicia Pineault
Perhaps the most unpredictable discipline of all, the ladies will feature a number of skaters we have either not seen compete this season or had their last international way earlier in the fall. Many eyes will be on two-time and defending champ Gabrielle Daleman and how much she brings back in her first competition of the season. All around, she’s the strongest skater in the field.
After a disappointing Olympic season last year, Alaine Chartrand has looked stronger this season in her Grand Prix events. The woman who beat out Chartrand for the third Olympic spot, Larkyn Austman, has had to deal with an injury most of the season and just skated her first event at Challenge in December. And Veronik Mallet, who had a really solid start to her season at Finlandia Trophy, had to withdraw from Skate Canada with a foot injury of her own. This will be her first Canadians since 2016.