At these frigid Canadian National Skating Championships in frozen Calgary, Madeline Schizas is in a class by herself.
While temperatures hovered around -38 degrees C (felt like 42 apparently), Schizas opined that it was warmer inside than outside. The ice was frozen, as usual. And she felt okay with what happened on that slippery surface – which wasn’t exactly what she wanted.
Schizas, 20 of Milton, Ont., leads the pack after the short program with 63.63 points, easily holding at bay Calgary trainee Kaiya Ruiter at 58.25. (Things went awry for her, too and she noted how cold she was in the rink.) That gives Schizas a cushion of 5.38 points leading to the free skate.
Third is Sara-Maude Dupuis, who cooked up 57.87 points. A cascade of skaters finished nose to nose in the 50.00s.
Put this into perspective. Only about a third of the 18 skaters attempted in the short program so much as a triple Lutz – double toe loop. A couple had a triple flip – triple toe loop on their roster. And to be noted: the minimum technical score to compete at the world championships for women is 32. None of the 18 would have made that minimum, if it were an international competition. Schizas had a 31.91. (Not to worry. Schizas earned the minimum score at the Nepela Trophy last fall: 36.90)
The only skater who did a triple Lutz – triple toe loop was upstart Uliana Shiryaeva, 16, from British Columbia, who, alas, was a quarter-turn short on the second half. A bright spot on the day, she finished fifth.
Hetty Shi, 15, did a triple flip – triple toe loop without a hitch, despite having grown a lot in the past year. She sits sixth.
Schizas, already a two-time Canadian champion, really, really intended to do a triple Lutz – triple toe loop, but she landed heavily on the first part, and gathered her steely mind to get herself to put a double toe loop on the end.
“I got the triple Lutz out,” she said. “It was a good stepping stone for the second half of the season.
“I’ve been skating the Lutz-toe so well in practice but when I did the Lutz, I thought: ‘ARGGGGGG.’ But the rest was pretty clean.”
Her triple loop was solid, her double Axel, too. A flying sit spin was worth a level four, so was a change-foot combination spin. Her footwork was deemed only a level two, and a layback spin, complete with a Biellmann, a level three. “The report card scores were a little lower than I thought they might be.”
Schizas’s boat didn’t seem to be rocked.
“I feel okay with it,” she said. “I felt the performance was good. I felt I really gave my all in the performance side.”
She went in with a calmer attitude than she had the past several years, taking herself out of the environment a little. “I was able to get away from everything,” she said. “I think it contributed to that feeling of calm.”
This too, even while skating in front of a home crowd, which she said, is always hard. But then, it’s good preparation for the world championships in Montreal – the only home world championship she will probably ever know.
The delightful Kaiya Ruiter, all of 17, and second at the Challenge event, landed a triple flip – triple toe loop, the latter a quarter-turn short. Cheers surrounded her. Her change-foot combo spin was worth only a level 1, after officials had initially given her a level three. She hung onto a triple Lutz.
Sara-Maude Dupuis, coached by Stephane Yvars in Quebec, has had a Grand Prix event this season, and did a triple Lutz (with a quarter short) – double toe loop for 57.87 points. This 18-year-old had been sixth at the Challenge event, won by Fee-Ann Landry, an 18-year-old who did a triple Lutz – double toe loop and ended up seventh.
Better luck Saturday.