Sport Shorts: Gold + Silver = Big Start for Figure Skaters

What a Start in Paris: At the first Grand Prix event of the season, some familiar faces showed that it could be a reason to remember for Canadian figure skaters. Canada’s best ice dance duo, Tessa Virtue (London, Ont.) and Scott Moir (Ilderton, Ont.), won gold at the Trophée Eric Bompard in Paris with a free skate set to the music of Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 5. Their 197.71 points handily defeated the 181.64 posted by French pair Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat, who won silver.

Meanwhile, in pairs, Jessica Dubé and Bryce Davison captured a silver medal in Paris, debuting their free skate program to the theme of The Way We Were. Dubé (St-Cyrille de Wendover, Que.) and Davison (Huntsville, Ont.), 2006 Olympians, finished second to the Russian pair of Maria Mukhortova and Maxim Trankov. They beat, however, world champions Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy from Germany, who finished third.

Tearing up the Track: Frozen track, that is. Twenty-eight of Canada’s top speed skaters are competing at the Richmond Oval (Olympic venue) at the Canadian Selections for the upcoming World Cup season. The final team will be announced Tuesday after the last races. All the big names are out in the last chance to skate the Oval prior to the Olympic Winter Games – Jeremy Wotherspoon, Cindy Klassen, Denny Morrison, Lucas Makowsky and company. What the event is illustrating is the depth of the Canadian team, particularly in the middle distances. So far, Christine Nesbitt is making quite the splash, winning two 500-metre races on Saturday before winning the 1,500 metres with a new track record.

Slip Sliding in Calgary: Canadian sliders – luge, skeleton and bobsleigh – took to the track at Canada Olympic Park in Calgary all last week. The luge team wrapped up a week of training on Saturday with their second batch of World Cup selection races. This week, they will make their way to Whistler for the final selection races. At Whistler, there is a system of cameras set up at the sliding venue to help athletes in bobsleigh, skeleton and luge view for themselves how their last run went and what aspects might need work – minutes after the run is over. Luge coach Wolfgang Staudinger said he thinks not even Germany has such a system in place.

Three Cities Vie for 2018: About eight years from now, Canada’s best winter athletes will travel to one of three places for a shot at Olympic glory. Annecy, France, Munich and PyeongChang, South Korea will compete for the right to host the 2018 Olympic Winter Games. The last time there were only three winter bids, Calgary came out the winner (1988). Annecy won the French bid over three other cities in France. Munich is seeking to be the first city ever to stage a summer and winter Games, as it was Olympic host in 1972. For PyeongChang, it marks the third straight bid after losing out to Vancouver and Sochi for the 2010 and 2014 Games. We’ll find out who wins in July 2011.

Women Looking Strong: The Canadian women’s hockey team has done it again, defeating arch rival U.S. for the second time in two weeks as part of a lead-up to the 2010 Olympic Winter Games. Both nations lead the world in women’s hockey and are widely expected to collide in the gold medal game next February. In Spokane, Washington on Friday, Team Canada won 5-2 against the home side. Penalty-killing was strong, as the U.S. scored just once in nine power plays. Montreal’s Caroline Oullette scored twice on the power play to lead Canada.