Roman Sadovsky

The storyline was set for weeks leading into the 2020 Canadian Championships — at least when it came to the senior men’s event. Only one spot available for men at the World Championships in Montréal this March, and two best buds — Nam Nguyen and Keegan Messing — would be in a battle for it.

Apparently, nobody bothered to send Roman Sadovsky that script. The gangly 20-year-old from Vaughan, Ontario, laid down the long program of the night at the Paramount Fine Foods Centre in Mississauga, Ontario, and dared Nguyen and Messing to match it. Neither came close, and a shocked Sadovsky found himself standing on the top of the podium as the Canadian champion in a stunning finish to Saturday’s proceedings.

“The hype was about the two of us, but Roman put his head down and did his work,” said Nguyen, the defending champion. “Roman completely deserves (the title) because he really put it out there tonight. He’s come a long way, for sure, and he’s such a beautiful skater to watch. He will do Canada proud if he gets that spot for Worlds.”

Sadovsky still had not processed the moment when he spoke with the media afterward. “I’m still sort of in disbelief. I’ve always wanted to get a national title, not just in seniors but at any level,” he said. “I did nationals in novice, but I missed junior nationals because of injury. I’ve never gotten a gold medal, and to have my first national title be in seniors … it’s fine, I like it.”

This was no fluke. Sadovsky landed a pair of quad Salchows, including one in combination, and added five triples (including an Axel) in his powerful skate to the emotional strains of the “Schindler’s List” soundtrack. The audience was on its feet by the end, though Sadovsky was not quite as convinced of the level of his performance.

“I wasn’t sure if it was enough, which is probably why I had a lack of reaction,” he said. “I was just sort of clueless about whether it was enough. I’m just happy that it was.”

He earned 175.55 points for the free and his overall total of 260.57 put him far ahead of Nguyen (243.51) and Messing right (241.79).

Nguyen put a pair of quad Salchows and triple Axel on the board in the opening minutes of his Beatles-themed program, but two falls took the wind out of his sails. Though he admitted to a case of nerves beforehand, he would not use that as an excuse.

“I can’t put the blame on the pressure of one spot for Worlds, because that wasn’t the reality,” said Nguyen. “Throughout the week, was it on my mind? Yes, but not tonight particularly. I was in a good zone mentally and physically. After that first mistake, it started to unravel … It’s definitely disappointing that I put that out there, but I’m happy to be walking away with a silver medal.”

Messing, the short program winner, also started strongly, landing a triple Lutz, quad toe and triple Axel combinations. But his “November Rain” program ran out of gas after two particularly hard falls, which left him in the bronze medal position.

“I’m feeling a whole lot better after the medal ceremony than I was after the skate,” said Messing. “The skate was a fight. I felt the nerves a lot, and I really thought that one spot for the World team was a shadow over the whole week. I got through the short program, but the long was another story. I knew it was going to be hard out there.”