Canada's best figure skaters offer sneak peek ahead of PyeongChang Games

At an open house to sell a property, it’s best foot forward. At the annual Skate Canada High Performance Camp this week in Mississauga, Ont., it’s the same story.

Canada’s elite skaters — and this season’s Olympic hopefuls — were on hand to offer a sneak peek of their material for this most important season.

Canadian champion Kaetlyn Osmond is taking a measured approach when considering the upcoming season. Osmond’s silver medal at worlds automatically puts her in contention for an Olympic medal. Is the pressure getting to her?

“It’s not really real to me yet so I’m just going to ‘roll with it’ for now,” Osmond says.

Early feedback could have podium implications

In addition to the media, who were out in full force, so were the officials who are there to offer the feedback required for changes to programs that can make the difference between silver and gold.

Skate Canada’s president Leanna Caron is also a high-level figure skating judge who was at the camp to offer feedback to the ice dance and single skaters.

“It’s really exciting because we have such a veteran and experienced team,” Caron says. “We are all very hopeful.”

One of those hopes has to be pinned on 2010 Olympic gold and 2014 Olympic silver ice dance medallists Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir.

“David Pelletier told me in 2009 that the Olympics aren’t won or lost at the camp,” Moir says. “That happens in April, May and June with the prep work that gets you to this point.”

Skate Canada Camp 20170830

Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir practice their routine at Skate Canada’s High Performance Camp in Mississauga, Ontario on Wednesday. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press)

Moir acknowledges that they’re pushing the officials more at this camp than they have in the past.

“We’d rather have the feedback now than at our first competition, where we would be getting it anyway. At least if we get it here, we have a month to work on things.”

Patrick Chan has nothing to prove

Trying to find that line where the programs are ready enough to be put on display but not to the point where there is no room for growth is individual to each skater. Patrick Chan won the Olympic silver in Sochi in 2014, and wants to be in Pyeongchang in 2018 but insists he has nothing to prove.

“I am doing this year the way I want to,” Chan says.

His choices include skating to Dust in the Wind by Kansas for his short program, a choice that coach Marina Zoueva had to think about.

“I am now a big fan of the song,” Zoueva says. “How [Patrick] delivers the feeling of the music, with every nuance, I love this song… I 100 per cent trust Patrick. If he loves the music, he knows what he is doing.”

Finding the motivation to continue working towards a third Olympic Games appearance for Chan includes wanting to win gold in the team event, a step up from the silver that Canada took at the inaugural event in Sochi.

The trick in motivating oneself is to come to terms with the fact that it’s you that you’re trying to beat —  not necessarily a competitor.

Finding the ‘best version of yourself’

“Figure skating is a port where you are on the ice and you are trying to be the best version of yourself and then let the judges decide” said Skate Canada’s High Performance director, Mike Slipchuk.

Trying to find that ‘best version’ of a skater also comes down to the coach. Nikolai Morozov is in his second season working with two-time world medallists  in ice dance, Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje.

“They became very professional and lots of ideas have come from them,” Morozov says. “Last year was how we have created this year.”

The upcoming Olympics and making the team are top of mind for everyone. When asked for one word to describe what it would mean to be named to the Olympic team, Dylan Moscovitch said “opportunity” while partner Lubov Iliusheshchkina’s word was “achievement.”

Kaitlyn Weaver’s word was “honour” and partner Andrew Poje’s was “dream.”

Perhaps the most crystal-clear vision of all for making the Olympic team belongs to 2017 world bronze medallist Gabrielle Daleman: “For me, it is living my dream twice over and all before I’m 20.”

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