Joannie Rochette put down a brilliant program to win her sixth straight national title at the 2010 Canadian Championships tonight in London, Ont. Jessica Dubé and Bryce Davison won the pairs title.
UPDATE: Meanhwile in ice dance, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir won the title late Saturday evening.
Rochette, in second after the short, scored 144.08 points for her free skate and 208.23 overall to win the crown in London, Ont. Rochette already had her ticket punched to Vancouver but the victory will be a big boost going into the Olympic Games.
"I think at the end when you know when you can finally breathe, you can enjoy and look at the crowd and the people cheering for you right before the Olympics," Rochette said. "And with the extra pressure for me being second after the short, I was just so relieved."
"It was the sixth time I was going for this title and I don't know, it seems like every year I'm more nervous about it. After the holidays I just took time for myself to regroup and I feel like I'm starting a brand new season and I can feel clear about it in my head. I've been training really well during the holidays and I think I proved that."
Rochette is confident going into the Games. "If I do a program like this, yes, its possible I can win [the Olympic title]," she said. "But I don't want to put that kind of pressure on myself. I want to think about [skating] the program."
Overnight leader Cynthia Phaneuf claimed the silver and the second Olympic ladies spot for Team Canada. Doubling two of her planned triple jumps, she earned 116.25 for her free skate. Overall, she compiled a score of 182.55. "It was my goal to give myself the best gift I could do in my skating career and I did it," said Phaneuf who turned 22 today. "In 2004, it wasn't my goal to win. But here, it was my goal to go to the Olympics. To do something when it's your goal ... you are so proud of yourself."
Myriane Samson took the bronze with an overall score of 151.10.
Dubé and Davison finished with an overall score of 198.27, almost 15 points ahead of the silver medalists, Anabelle Langlois and Cody Hay who compiled 183.42 overall.
Dubé and Davison were in second after the short program. “I guess we bounced back,” Davison said. “That felt incredible. From start to finish, it was probably one of the best skates we've ever done in a competition. Everything just flowed, one thing right into the next. I can't really explain to you how it happened. It was natural. We're really, really excited about how we skated.”
It was Dubé and Davison's second straight national title and third overall.
"I was crying inside near the end [of the free skate] and once it was over I was just, I don't know ... it was too much for me. I was just so happy," Dubé said. " And like I told Bryce, it was my goal to do that program and feel the emotion at the end myself. And I think I did today and I think Bryce did, too. It felt really good. We wanted to bring the emotion out of the crowd and I think that’s what we did.”
Langlois and Hay claimed the second Olympic spot for Canada. The bronze went to Meagan Duhamel and Craig Buntin who scored 172.18 points overall.
“It didn’t feel like the most amazing skate but it felt amazing to be out there,” Langlois said. "When we were doing our spiral sequence, I was just looking at the crowd. I know how many people were happy that we made it back. I could really feel it and it carried us through the program.
“We expected everybody to come here and fight for it. We knew that. That’s really what we tried to do, stay focused and try to be really aggressive and not back off at all.”
Hay said the program was one the couple’s best free skates all season in competition. “We were happy but we knew we made some mistakes,” he said. “It was nerve-wracking sitting there waiting [for the scores]."
The couple missed the 2008-09 season after Langlois broke her ankle. “That was our goal when we first teamed up: We wanted to make it to Vancouver. That’s been the driving force behind getting back on the ice after Anabelle’s injury. [There was] definitely relief and excitement. I don’t think its quite sunk in yet, the full reality of it."
Buntin won the Canadian pairs title from 2004-06 with former partner Valerie Marcoux (they were 11th at the 2006 Olympic Games). But there will be no Olympic competitive experience fior Buntin this time.
He said he was kicking himself for a mistake on an Axel in his free skate Saturday. “But aside from that, we left all the energy we could on the ice out there,” he said. “Tonight, there were two teams that did more.”
Duhamel said it she knew it would difficult for whomever placed third. “We have three strong teams in Canada,” she said. “We have a good pairs program and that’s why we had such strong skating today. We pushed each other.”
UPDATE: The senior ice dance was the last event of the day. Defending champions Virtue and Moir skated a stellar program that brought the crowd to its feet. They scored 107.82 points in the free dance and also set a new Canadian record with an overall total of 221.95 points.
The duo will be representing Canada at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games. Vanessa Crone and Paul Poirier came in second and also punched their ticket to Vancouvcer. Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje claimed the bronze medal.
"It's so exciting and it's something were been working toward, for sure. To have it now helps it settle in and become a reality [for us]," Virtue said. "Each competition, we've said we get to skate this program four more times, three more times, now this is it. The next time we compete, it will be at the Olympics. It's exciting, it's nerve-wracking, its every emotion kind of rolled into one."
It was the couple's third straight victory at nationals. "Tessa and I are obviously pretty pleased with that program tonight," Moir saidafter the free skate. "You could probably tell by our reaction. There was a lot of energy in the arena and we really tried to feed off that. It added a little pressure for us we really wanted to go out there and give them something to stand up for but overall, we were very happy with the skate. Were going to want to push it out a little more for the Games. But where were at right now were thrilled. We feel like were in a great position for [the Olympics] and that's just exciting for us."
The fight for the second-place finish was close. Crone and Poirier pulled out the silver with a final score of 184.70 points. Weaver and Poje were very close behind with 184.40 points.
"I was in shock," said Crone who slipped up on a twizzle. "I've done the twizzles over and over again. That's one thing I was really comfortable with the whole week in practice. Once I got into the kiss 'n cry, it sunk in that that's what really happened. I think that, regardless of that mistake, we did exactly what we came here for. We got our levels, we relaxed and we enjoyed our skate. That's what we wanted.
"It was close and yes, that was nerve-wracking, but in the back of our heads, we knew what we came here to do. We kind of just put the points and the placements behind us and focused on what we had to do. We practiced day in and day out on what we just did, so were really happy with how it turned out."
"After the free dance, we were in a little bit of shock," Poirier said. "We've been so well-prepared and we've been doing great, great free dances in practice every single day with no mistakes. So I think we were just a little surprised with ourselves. When that mistake happened, we decided not to let it get to us and to stay strong, keep hoping and to be content with the result. Even though we did have a mistake, emotionally that was the best free dance we've done this season. In a way, we were still very happy. We would have been happy either way knowing that we were able to put out that free dance.
"We had absolutely no idea [we finished second]. We had secluded ourselves in a little corner and we were hiding. Our teammates, Asher (Hill) and Kharis (Ralph), started running toward us and jumping on us. It was like this shock. We had no idea and I think we were both really surprised. But it's really exciting. We've trained really hard and we want to make the most of this opportunity." -- Rob Brodie contributed to this report.