The most volatile event at these Championships reached a new level of unpredictability on Saturday afternoon. And when the dust finally settled, the long program produced a podium filled with a trio of teenage first-time senior medalists.
It was Emily Bausback, a 17-year-old from Vancouver who surprised everyone — including herself — who skated to gold with a solid performance to “My Heart Will Go On.” She landed five triple jumps en route to winning the long program and the national title with a 175.54 overall total. That was almost seven points better than Alison Schumacher (168.94), also 17, who claimed the silver medal by less than a point over 16-year-old Madeline Schizas (168.07).
Bausback was 10th at this event a year ago but rolled into Mississauga believing she was capable of a podium finish. But Canadian champion? That was almost unimaginable. She nervously waited backstage for the final three skaters to complete their long programs before celebrating her triumph. “This is a complete surprise to me, a very happy surprise. There were a million emotions going through my body and a million thoughts,” said Bausback, who calls 2010 Olympic bronze medalist Joannie Rochette her biggest inspiration. “I was watching other (skaters) and after every one, I was thinking ‘this could be it. I could win this. This could be my title.’ After seeing all their scores come up and my score stay at the top, it was an incredible feeling. The best feeling I’ve ever had.”
The wait was even longer for Schumacher, who laid down a solid skate to start the final flight, then watched her name stay in a medal position all the way to the end. “Definitely, I’m a little surprised,” she said. “It feels really good. I’m so relieved. Just no words. I just wanted to put two solid skates out, and it happened to be silver.”
Nobody in this event made a bigger leap than Schizas, who recalled being a “mid-range novice” at this event in 2018. Now she’s a senior bronze medalist. “There were some mental mistakes today, but I think it comes along with experience, which unfortunately you cannot buy,” she said. “This is my third nationals and two years ago, I was sitting in 12th after the novice short program. I knew there was an opportunity (today) and I had to kind of take advantage of it.”
Short program winner Alicia Pineault had a rough skate and slipped to fourth in the final standings.
Canada has two ladies’ spots at Worlds in Montréal this March, but Skate Canada high performance director Michael Slipchuk said the federation plans to wait until a later date to decide which skaters will get those tickets. There is also the matter of Bausback needing to achieve a minimum technical score for the short program, which she will attempt to get at next month’s Four Continents Championships in South Korea.