Golden Skate

New Canadian Pairs Team Has Outstanding Debut Season

For Canadians Carla Montgomery and Ryan Arnold, the 2001-2002 season was a dream come true. In their first season together, the team finished fifth at the World Junior Figure Skating Championships in Hamar, fourth at the Junior Grand Prix Final, first in juniors at the 2002 Canadians, and first in both their internationals – the SBC Cup in Japan and the JGP event at The Hague. “We’re happy with our results this season,” Montgomery stated. “Next year we hope to medal at the Junior Grand Prix Final and Junior Worlds.” “We’ll have two more years in juniors,” Arnold added, “but we’ll be skating in seniors in Canada. We’ve got to work on improving our jumps so we look more like a senior team.”

Arnold began skating when he was three. “My mom and my uncle were both figure skaters,” he said. “My mom taught me when I was younger and my uncle coaches at the club where I train now. I just started pairs because I saw a girl I liked and I tried it for fun. I skated with Taylor Macintosh in juvenile pairs. We were second at Canadians in 1998.” He later skated with Kaylee Sawkins, but last season, he competed only in singles. “I did singles just to work on the jumps,” he said. Arnold also plays hockey. “I skated in junior C up to last year,” he said, “and I still play pick-up hockey. I play center.”

Montgomery related, “My parents put me into all kinds of sports – soccer, baseball, ballet, and dance as well as skating. My sister was involved in skating and I started when I was four. My jumping isn’t the strongest so I switched to pairs when I was 12. There’s a lot more variety in pairs. It’s much more exciting. I used to watch Brasseur and Eisler all the time on TV. She was my hero.” Her first partner was Stefan Dean from Newfoundland, then Jarvis Hetu. They skated in several Junior Grand Prix events and were second in junior pairs at the 2001 Canadians and 11th at the 2001 Junior Worlds last season, but split after the 2000-2001 season. Montgomery got together with Arnold in May 2001 when both were looking for partners at Mariposa Skating Club.

Both were late bloomers in landing their first triples, with Arnold landing his first triple salchow at 13 and Montgomery hers at 15. “We’re using the side-by-side triple salchows and the double Axels in our program, but we’re working on adding triple toe loops for next season,” Arnold noted. “The side-by-side triples are out hardest element, but things are getting better. Nothing is really a big risk element for us right now.” Surprisingly the side-by-side triples and throws are Arnold’s favorite elements, while Montgomery prefers the lifts. “I trust him to hold me,” she said.

Kelly Johnson does the choreography for the young couple. “She picked the music for both of our programs this year,” Arnold said. “They were things we’d heard at other competitions.” The music for the technical was “A Whiter Shade of Pale” while the free skate included the “Happy Valley 1997 Re-Unification Overture” by Vanessa Mae and Anita Hill and “Farewell” from the soundtrack of “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” performed by Yo-Yo Ma. “We’re thinking of something more upbeat for next season,” Montgomery added.

The skaters train with Lee Barkell and Shane Dennison in Barrie, Ontario. Their chedule includes three to four hours of ice time five days a week, with more in the summer. They have sessions before school, at lunchtime, and after school but since their school is across the parking lot from the rink, they don’t have far to travel. They have an off ice pairs lift class three times a week to work on new lifts and work in the gym every day doing cardiovascular training and weights. In the summer, Arnold also does some running. He also participates in a lot of school sports – volleyball, track, and almost any kind of sport. He competes in the 100 and 4×100 meters in track and in the pole vault. Montgomery, on the other hand, said “I was never a big team sports person.”

Arnold is in twelfth grade, while Montgomery is a year behind him in school. His best subjects are physiology and physical education, while hers are anatomy and English. Both plan to go to the university, where Arnold plans to study kinesiology in hopes of getting a sports-related job, perhaps in coaching skating. Montgomery hasn’t selected a major, but said it wouldn’t be science. She has no plans to coach or do choreography for other skaters. “I’m not musical at all,” she added.

Except for skating and homework, Montgomery’s major pastimes are hanging out with friends and chatting on her computer. She likes movies and counts “Moulin Rouge” as one of her favorites. She also has a pet cat, Meko. Arnold tries to collect something from every country he visits, while Montgomery collects pins from each competition.

Arnold drives home every weekend to visit his family, a two-hour drive. On holidays, Montgomery likes to visit her family’s cottage in Manitoba. She enjoyed her trips to Holland, Japan and Slovenia but wants to go somewhere warmer if she has the chance. “If I could visit any place I would visit Florida because I feel like I am the only person that hasn’t been there and I must be missing something,” she said.