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Joannie Rochette Makes It Five in a Row

Joannie Rochette, 23, delivered the goods when the pressure was on to win her fifth straight Canadian title Saturday at the Credit Union Centre in Saskatoon, Sask. Jessica Dubé, 21, and Bryce Davison, 22, rallied to win the pairs title while ice dancers Tessa Virtue, 19, and Scott Moir, 21, won their second consecutive Canadian crown.

Rochette received a standing ovation for her long program, which earned 131.77. In second place after the short program, Rochette finished the competition with a total of 185.35 points.

Rochette landed an impressive array of jumps during her long program. She started things off with a triple Lutz, double-toe and double-loop combination. She also put down a triple flip, triple-loop plus a triple-Lutz, triple-toe, triple-Salchow sequence. Her choreography and artistic presentation also helped to set her apart, especially in the latter stages of her program.

"I'm not an emotional skater so much and I'm not someone who usually expresses so much at the end of my performance. But tonight, I was really, really proud of myself to pull this off. I think that's why I was more emotional,” Rochette said. "I put myself in the toughest position I ever had to skate in. Even 10 minutes before I went on the ice, I was nervous. But I got out there and the music started and I felt much better. I could just get immersed in the music and forget about the short (program)."

Overnight leader Cynthia Phaneuf, 21, had several notable miscues, but skated well enough to secure the silver medal. The 2004 natioanl champion also brought the fans to their feet as she scored 96.26 for her long program and compiled an overall total of 151.42 points.

"My goal was not to finish first,” Phaneuf, admitted after the event. “I know Joannie is at a (level) that I'm not at right now. I just wanted to be second to go to Worlds."

Amélie Lacoste, 20, captured the bronze medal. She scored 89.46 points for her long program and put up an overall competition mark of 143.01 points.

Skate Canada announced the women’s 2009 ISU Four Continents Championships and the 2009 ISU World Figure Skating Championship team. Rochette, Phaneuf and Lacoste will all represent Canada in Vancouver at the 2009 ISU Four Continents Championships. Rochette and Phaneuf will be the Canadian entries at the 2009 ISU World Figure Skating Championship in Los Angeles, USA.

Jessica Dubé, 21, and Bryce Davison, 22, rallied to win the pairs title. They were in second place after the short program, but also delivered when it counted to claim their second nationals title (they won their other title in 2007). They compiled 126.21 points in the long program for an overall competition mark of 188.43.

"We knew coming in that it wasn't going to be easy at all,” Davison said. “There's always great depth for pair skaters in Canada, and just having Anabelle and Cody not here wasn't any kind of relief for us. We knew Meagan and Craig had been training very, very hard, and they've improved substantially."

Overnight leaders Meagan Duhamel, 23, and Craig Buntin, 28, captured the silver medal. They scored 116.76 points in the free program for an overall score of 182.50 points.

"It's hard to start a program hearing somebody else's scores that good,” Duhamel said. “They got 126 and our personal best was 109, but we had a job to do. We came here to do two of the best skates that we can and we hoped to be rewarded with a gold medal from those two skates. Maybe we didn't get a gold medal but we fought through.”

Mylène Brodeur, 21, and John Mattatall, 25, skated to bronze. They scored 104.22 points in the free program for a total score of 159.85 points.

The 2009 ISU Four Continents Championships and the 2009 ISU World Figure Skating Championship teams for pairs were also announced last night. Dubé and Davison and Duhamel and Buntin will represent Canada at both events.

Canada still has a pairs spot open in each competition. An assessment of 2008 Canadian pairs champions Anabelle Langlois and Cody Hay will be done in the near future. The team to get the final Canadian berth for the two competitions will be announced in approximately one week.

Senior ice dance closed out the evening very late last night, but that didn’t stop Virtue and Moir, 21 from giving a solid performance, despite missing the entire season up until this point due to an injury (Virtue had leg surgery for compartment syndrome in both legs in the fall).

"We're extremely pleased with the way we skated, and I'm excited to be a national champion again, " Moir said. “I was pretty proud of (Tessa) and what she's accomplished in the last three months. It definitely wasn't an easy road for her. Hopefully, we can stay on the road to recovery and get these programs up to 100 per cent and the way we want them to be."

Virtue and Moir scored 94.68 points in the free dance for a competition total of 197.77 points. "I think, given the circumstances, I have to be happy with that skate,” Virtue said. “It's not necessarily what we'd hoped for at this point in the season but I'm just so pleased with our progress. I'm really grateful to be back here and competing at nationals again. It's definitely our favorite event and we're honored to be on top."

Vanessa Crone, 18, and Paul Poirier, 17, mined silver. They compiled 84.40 points in the free program for a competition total of 175.58. Kaitlyn Weaver, 19. and Andrew Poje, 21, who were second in the free program, scored 84.42 points for a bronze-medal finish and competition total of 170.23 points.

Virtue and Moir and Crone and Poirier will be the Canadian entries at both the 2009 ISU Four Continents Championships and the 2009 ISU World Figure Skating Championships. Weaver and Poje will be joining them at the ISU Four Continents Championships as Canada’s third entry.

"It's something really exciting,” Poirier said about the berth to Worlds. “We've really been hoping for this for a long time since we started skating, especially this year, since we knew it was within our grasp. That's really what motivated us this whole season and kept us going at practices. To finally get here, it's great."

Crone added, “We were just happy with the way we skated and the exposure and experience we've had here has been amazing. It's been a lot of fun and a great experience for us.”

JUNIOR CHAMPIONS

In the junior pairs event Saturday, Brittany Jones and Kurtis Gaskell were golden. Sara Jones and Jeremy Sandor claimed the silver and Maddison Bird and Raymond Schultz secured the bronze.

Earlier in the week, the junior champions in singles and ice dance were crowned.

Kate Charbonneau came from behind to win the women’s junior title. Cambria Little had an outstanding free program to jump seven spots into second place overall. Rylie McCulloch-Casarsa managed to take home the bronze medal after finishing in eighth in the short program.

In the men’s junior event, Andrei Rogozine rallied from second place to secure the gold medal. Coming from 10th place after the short program, Paul Parkinson took home the silver Sébastien Wolfe took the bronze.

Karen Routhier and Eric Sauche-Lacelle won the junior ice dance title. Tarrah Harvey and Keith Gagnon mined silver while Alexandra Paul and Jason Cheperdak claimed the bronze.


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