Canadas figure skating team young, but has results to back it up

The Canadian Press ~ The News
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LONDON, Ont. - Canada's figure skating team for Vancouver might be short on experience, but it is long on results.
And the Vancouver-bound skaters believe that youth won't be a factor when they carry Canada's lofty hopes into the Pacific Coliseum next month in one of the Winter Olympics' most high-profile events.
Patrick Chan, who's barely 19, along with ice dancers Tessa Virtue, 20, and Scott Moir, 22, and 24-year-old Joannie Rochette, will lead the charge to the podium in a sport that Canada has won a medal in in every Games going back to 1984.
"It's younger, but I think this team is especially strong because we've got a chance of a medal in every discipline," said Rochette, one of the relative elders among the group.
Only four of the 12 athletes - Rochette, Jessica Dube and partner Bryce Davison, and Anabelle Langlois - have any Olympic experience.
But they've already shone on one the sport's biggest stage - all of the Canadian champions are world medallists.
"Young, dynamic, a lot of skaters that are pushing and leading the world, not in a different direction, but in a quality direction of skating," Davison said, summing up the squad.
"I think we're a strong skating nation, so even if we're young I think we're very competitive," added Moir.
Canada has two entries in each of the four disciplines in Vancouver. The Canadian silver medallists that are also Olympic bound - most of which will be reaching their peak in 2014 - are Cynthia Phaneuf and Vaughn Chipeur in women's and men's singles, Vanessa Crone and Paul Poirier in dance, and Anabelle Langlois and Cody Hay in pairs.
The battle for a berth in Vancouver brought out the best in Canada's top skaters at the Labatt Centre, Rochette roaring back from a frustrating season to lay down arguably her finest skate yet in the long program.
Chan has had to rebound from a tumultuous season that included a serious bout of the flu, a torn calf muscle that left him playing catch-up, and then news - just a month before the Games - that Don Laws was resigning as his coach.
Chan recorded a whopping overall score of 268.02 points, but left plenty of room for improvement, with a couple of errors on both his short and long programs - evidence again of the inflation of marks at the national level.
Both the pairs and dance events came down to the wire, with less than a point deciding silver and bronze in the dance.
"It's a sad thing that we only have two entries in every event, but you know what? It also brought the best out of everyone," said Langlois, the team's oldest member at 28. "How the skating has gone this weekend, we know that people have been fighting and training all year for it, so I know we have fighters and nobody's going to just go for the experience."
Because of the team's youthfulness, Mike Slipchuk, Skate Canada's high performance director, said when he assembled the support staff for Vancouver, Games experience was a key requirement.
"Every member of our staff, medical, media, team leaders have multiple Games experience, because I felt that would be very crucial, especially at home," Slipchuk said. "I didn't want to go into a Games with someone who has never led a team at an Olympic Games with and with skaters that had never been there."

Organizations: Labatt Centre

Geographic location: Canada, Vancouver, LONDON Pacific Coliseum

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