With only one place available on the 2020 World team in the men′s discipline, Nam Nguyen and Keegan Messing were expected to battle it out at the 2020 Canadian Championships. However, Roman Sadovsky upset the apple cart by beating both men. Skate Canada then sent all three to Four Continents in South Korea for a virtual skate-off.
Why do you think Canadian nationals did not go as well as you had hoped?
There were a lot of factors. I don’t want to make any excuses but going into nationals with the thought of knowing there was only one spot at Worlds hanging over your head. There was also a little bit of coming in as the defending champion. Then two days before nationals, my right skate broke so I had to compete in a brand new right skate and an old left skate. It was a little bit challenging to deal with it, but I think under the circumstances I did all right. The short was fine, but in the long it was mentally hard to push through, which was obviously reflected in the result.
After nationals, we got the skate problem sorted out and then the job was just to focus on Four Continents.
Did you and your coach discuss any changes after nationals?
Not really. We did not have a lot of time to evaluate what we needed to do. We used the time between nationals as fuel to get through the training leading up to Four Continents. There was really no set plan. We all know that, at the end of the day, I can get the job done, so it was just more of being able to commit to it on a day-to-day basis.
Obviously we would have loved for nationals to go a lot better, but I used it as a way to motivate myself and do a lot better at Four Continents.
How did you handle the pressure going into Four Continents, knowing it was a do or die competition for the lone spot on the World team?
You know, the pressure that I felt at Four Continents was nothing like the pressure I felt going into nationals. I think after nationals, I was kind of angry so my approach to Four Continents was just to be on the offensive, and be aggressive with my training. Going into that event, it was more about just keeping my head down and doing my job, and trying not to be too emotional about it.
I did a good job in Korea and I got the spot. But I did not feel as much pressure as I did going into nationals.
Where were you and what was your reaction when you learned Worlds had been cancelled?
I was driving home from training actually. It was the last day at my home rink — it was closed the following two days for a hockey tournament, so I was going to train in Oakville with Mike (Marinaro) and Kirsten (Moore-Towers). As I was driving home I got a text. At that point I was already kind of stressed because in the back of my mind I was wondering if Worlds would be cancelled.
So I pulled over and I checked Twitter and the announcement had just come out. I did not really process it at the time and just continued with my day as usual. But the next day, it was like wow! I was pretty devastated. I was very upset like everyone else. It was terrible news but the safety of everyone comes first.
In terms of the hours we put in going into that event, it definitely does suck, but it is what it is.
Did you have show/tour commitments after Worlds?
Yes and to be very honest, I was more upset that the Stars on Ice tour got cancelled. Touring is so much fun. My first time doing it was last year was an unreal experience. Travelling across the country from Halifax to Vancouver … for me it was a dream come true, going out every night to perform and having fun with the audiences, which is something I really enjoy.
Hopefully, I can set myself up again this coming season and get back on the tour again next year.
There seemed to be a lot of problems with skates last season. Why do you think that was?
Yeah. All skate companies are coming out with new technology which compromises a lot of things in terms of the support and the time it takes to break them in. From an advertising standpoint it is great, but all the skaters are kind of used to the traditional way and are comfortable with that. Now, most companies are finally taking it easy on new technology and just sticking with what the skaters want.
Way back when the boots were made of leather, which made the process of breaking them in super long and very painful. Today, most skaters want a break-in process of like one to two days maximum and for it to be as easy as possible. The boot companies, I feel, are compromising by taking out the support that we need in the long run in order to shorten the difficult break-in process.
For me, I personally don’t mind having the long break-in process, as long as the skates are fully adaptable to my feet and I am able to use them for at least eight months.
I worked at a skating store in Toronto so I am familiar with the prices of skates. They range from around $700 to $1,200 a pair. They are pretty expensive and a lot of skaters have to pay for them. So, if they have to buy a new pair every few months that is financially draining for many. You also have to think about the blades, which are another expected thing to deal with. Blades are roughly around the same price — I think they range from around $800 to $1,000.
You finished 11th in the ISU Season Standings — the top Canadian man — and you rank 14th in the World Standings.
I had not seen the Season Standings. Nice! I don’t pay to much attention to the World Standings other than when it comes to starting orders. I don’t check on it at all during the season mainly because it is too hard to try and find it on the ISU website.
Have you started thinking about new programs for next season?
Not really, just because we don’t exactly know what is happening in terms of what the ISU is going to do with the Grand Prix and whatnot. It is getting extremely boring. There is not much going on re planning right now.
But, I spoke with my coach this morning and we talked about what we are going to do in the next few weeks, so I guess we are going to start planning and processing everything. We will just start somewhere and be ready for when we get the go ahead at some point in the future. That is all I can tell you. I don’t really know what is going on.
Your long program last season was so fun and everyone loved it. Are you considering keeping it as an exhibition number?
I am not quite sure. I can tell you right now we will not be keeping it for next season. Obviously, we are changing both programs up. In terms of using it for an exhibition program, I had not thought about that. It could be a good idea but I would have to think about what the best setting for that would be. I think the best scenario for me would be to perform that program for a Canadian crowd or as a show tour number.
How are you handling self-isolation so far?
In these challenging times it is so important to be positive and to also rely on our friends and family. At the end of the day, we work better if we are all in it together and we work together as a collective to get through this. All throughout the skating world people are holding fundraisers and trying to lift up each other’s spirits.
It is especially good to see people who were introverts in their day-to-day lives before quarantine branching out a bit. Like me. Generally, I like to be by myself most of the time and during the first few weeks I was in heaven, I was really enjoying it. But now there are some days that are quite challenging. Fortunately, I have friends I can always reach out to and just have a good time during these hard times.
What was the place you enjoyed going to the most last season and why?
South Korea. It is so nice. I enjoy going to Asia a lot. It is just a treat and such a change from the day-to-day life that I have here in Toronto. It is hard to explain, but every day of that week that I was in Korea I was really happy. The people there are great and their Wi-Fi was unbelievably fast. That’s the new … I don’t know what generation thing is or what they are calling us, but whatever that name is for me it is appreciating unbelievably fast Wi-Fi.
And, one fact — I bought this little Wi-Fi thing in Korea so I could have Wi-Fi everywhere I go. And on the bus going to and from the rink at Four Continents, Keegan and I would watch Netflix because the ride was really long. Every single day before practice or competition that we were on the bus together we would watch Netflix.
What was your favorite international meal last season?
Korean barbeque. It is pretty good here in Toronto, but when you have it in Korea it is different — it is just so good. Keegan and I had it I think on the final night in Korea. I don’t know — it just brought me to another place and I was so happy.