“Show me a garden that’s bursting into life,” go the words to the song “Chasing Cars,” a hypnotic tune done by the Irish/Scottish rock band Snow Patrol.
And so goes Roman Sadovsky, who won the senior men’s event at the Skate Canada Challenge event on Sunday. After winning his first national title last year – he had never so much as won any colour of medal before at that event – Sadovsky felt vindicated for all the hard work as he slogged through his ups and downs, and mostly downs as he grew and the promise he showed as a youngster hit the rails.
“It was a really really really special moment,” he said of that day in Mississauga a year ago. That win is his. It will never go away.
So on Sunday, he skated to Snow Patrol’s “Chasing Cars,” a luscious but spare piece of music, suited to his running blade and long strides. People said they were in tears watching it. It’s the Sadovsky mystique. He won with 262.01 points.
Sadovsky landed his opening quad Salchow with such ease, judges awarded him bonus marks of 3.30, giving him 13.00 points for that element alone. A triple Axel – triple toe loop gave him another 10.50 points. He lost some of those hard-earned points with a crazy jump sequence – a quad Salchow – Euler – triple Salchow, but he landed the quad a quarter turn short, which under most recent ISU rules, isn’t considered a downgrade, but penalizes the skater through the GOE (4.46 points floated out into the wind.) Incredibly, he underrotated the Euler, but still managed the triple Salchow. Even with the deductions, he earned 10.94 points for it.
He made several errors, such as not meeting requirements for a spin at the end of the program, but at the end of the day, he won the freeskate with 167.58 points. But that tally was only half a point more that Nam Nguyen’s freeskate score.
Nguyen, skating a new free routine to “Mi Mancherai” by Josh Groban, could have overtaken his friend if only he hadn’t popped his second quad Salchow into a single, and popped a loop, too. His opening quad Salchow – triple toe loop was a tour de force, netting him 2.91 in bonus points. He skated with power and accomplished much. In the end, he finished second overall with 256.43 points, about five points behind Sadovsky.
In the free, Nguyen actually defeated Sadovsky in technical marks by 5.21 points, but Sadovsky earned 90.10 in components, to Nguyen’s 84.40, and that made all the difference.
In third place was 18-year-old first-time senior Corey Circelli, about 20 points behind Nguyen with a total of 235.50. “I really wasn’t expecting a medal,” Circelli said. He was going to feel ecstatic if he made the top five.
He outfooted training mate Joseph Pfan, who has a couple of quads in his routine (he touched a hand down on a quad Salchow, and doubled a toe loop) and Circelli has none – yet.
Conrad Orzel, who came thundering out of the blocks in the short program and was sitting third with a brilliant effort, faltered in the free, with a cascade of mistakes . He did manage a quad Salchow and a quad toe loop but he finished only eighth in the free and fifth overall.
Missing in action were Keegan Messing and the precocious youngster Steven Gogolev, now 16,
Messing wanted to provide a video for the virtual event, but could not. Skate Canada’s high performance director Michael Slipchuk said Skate Canada hasspecific guidelines for filming these performances, and it was not able to find the resources in Alaska, where Messing lives.
“We had to actually find someone who could film it, like a cameraman,” Slipchuk said. “For them in Alaska, just because of logistics, they don’t have the ability to do video replay. They don’t have a person to do it.”
Skate Canada tried to find someone from a television station there or a university but had no luck. “We want all the videos shot in good quality,” Slipchuck said. If they’re not, judges might not be able to make clear decisions, and it could be “detrimental” to the skater, he said.
Fortunately for Messing, he was able to compete at Skate America last October, and didn’t have to cross a U.S./Canada border. There, he won a bronze medal. He had been the only skater in Canada to be able to compete at an international event this season.
Gogolev hasn’t competed since the 2020 world junior championships, but he’s been sprouting like a well tended bamboo shoot and has suffered injuries because of it.
“Steven has grown a lot,” said Slipchuk, who figures the lad stands 5-foot-5 or 5-foot-6 now. “When they are younger and they go through that stage, you don’t want to rush them.”
About a year and a half ago, a sports science team in Calgary had predicted that Gogolev would have a growth cycle in the past year. And they were correct. The growth gave him problems in his back, “just the aches and pains that go with that transition,” Slipchuk said. “Nothing that is long-term but attributed to training, and the body growing. These things are going to happen in a normal cycle.”
Gogolev returned to training in December under Rafael Arutunian in California, but was not ready to provide a video.
However, the timing isn’t all bad. If Gogolev had to sit out a season, this one – pandemic and lockdowns and all – was a good one to do it in, Slipchuk said. “It’s been a bit of an up and down season [for the sport,]” Slipchuk said. He expects Gogolev to be back in the fold next season.
In senior dance, as expected, Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier won the free dance and the gold medal with a tally of 223.33 points, 16.42 points ahead of second-placed Laurence Fournier Beaudry and Nikolaj Sorensen.
Gilles and Poirier used their much-loved routine from last year to Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now,” but Fournier Beaudry and Sorensen came out with a new concept piece called “Roots: Return to the Inner Temple,” with much use of the spoken word. It was an unveiling.
Gilles and Poirier chalked up component points like gold. Every single element gave them bonuses of more than two points. Four elements were worth well more than three extra points. Their curve lifts were not only level fours, but were worth 4.21 more points in GOE.
They also got a raft of perfect component marks: nine marks of 10.00 for performance, composition, and interpretation of the music.
Needless to say, Gilles and Poirier defeated Fournier Beaudry and Sorensen by about 15 points in the free dance, their technical marks more than 10 points higher.
Marjorie Lajoie and Zachary Lagha, silver medalists in Canada last year when Fournier Beaudry and Sorensen were out with injury, finished third this time, only 1.52 points behind them. Lajoie and Lagha unleashed a new routine, “Rio” that went high-speed from start to finish, with no break for a breath. With this, Lajoie and Lagha edged Fournier Beaudry and Sorensen by .30 points in the technical category of the free dance and were only a little more than a point behind them in components. (Fournier Beaudry and Sorensen made a couple of errors and lost some levels.)
Gilles and Poirier texted each other while watching it on at home on Sunday. And they say they will have new programs that are “special” for next season.
At the junior level, Natalie D’Alessandro and Bruce Waddell skated to the “Black Swan,” in the freeskate, won it with 101.79 points and then won gold overall with 169.87 points, 3.70 ahead of second-placed Miku Makita and Tyler Gunara with 166.17. Third was the elegant Nadia Bashynska and Peter Beaumont, with 162.23 points.
Waddell also competed in the senior men’s event, and finished twelfth, even attempting a quad toe loop in the free skate, an absolute rarity for an ice dancer. He underrotated it, but it’s definitely on record.