Cynthia Phaneuf wins second national title

Cynthia Phaneuf won her second national title at the 2011 BMO Canadian Figure Skating Championships.

Cynthia Phaneuf (QC) was barely 15 year old when she stood atop the senior Canadian podium in 2004. She was pegged as “the next big thing. Since then, she has been plagued by a growth spurt, injuries, and inconsistency. It may have taken seven years, but Phaneuf finally put together two solid programs at the Canadian Championships and won her well-deserved second Canadian title Saturday afternoon in Victoria, B.C.

Phaneuf’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini free skate was not perfect, but she never let her focus drop – a definite improvement over past seasons. Her opening triple toe loop did not get enough height, so she left off the combination jump and singled her intended double Axel later in the program.

Phaneuf landed her triple Lutz with ease, and it looks like she is about ready to add a second Lutz to her jump content. Her spins were all level three, so there is still a bit of room for her to improve upon her 111.55-point free skate score. However, the score was more than enough for the title here in Victoria.

With 172.32 points overall, Phaneuf won by almost 15 points. With this title, her Canadian medal count is now at 6: 2 golds, 3 silvers, and a bronze.

In second with a beautiful skate to Lucia Micarelli’s version of Bohemian Rhapsody was Myriane Samson (QC), last year’s bronze medalist. The 22-year-old has struggled with her triple Lutz in the past, but she landed it today,despite an edge call. A quick triple loop-double loop-double loop combination was one of the highlights of her program, earning 9.28 points and mostly +1 Grades of Execution (GOE) from the judges.

Samson changed some of her planned jump content and looked like she lost her focus just a bit before her final jump. She had originally planned a sequence with two double Axels earlier in the program, but did a triple Salchow instead.

Since Sampson still had to fulfill the requirement of an Axel jump, she had to throw it in with one jumping pass left, and she popped it to a single. After the jump, though, Samson floated through the last part of her program with a big smile while the audience cheered her on. Her trademark fist-pump at the end of her program was well worth it—she scored 108.07 points in the free to give her 157.82 points overall for the silver medal.

After missing the podium last year, Amélie Lacoste (QC) was back in bronze-medal position with a 100.86-point free skate to Scheherazade. A textbook double Axel-double Axel combination opened her program, and she followed that up with a solid triple loop-double loop combination, but she then doubled both her Lutz and her flip.

Lacoste fought back, however, landing three more triples for a total of four, and earning level four on two of her spins. Like Phaneuf, Lacoste has also fought injuries in the past, but has had a great year, looking fit and confident at her events. In addition to reaching the podium again at the national level, she also won bronze at Skate Canada earlier this season.

Alexandra Najarro’s (CO) free skate was not as sensational as her short program, but she really did sparkle on the ice on Saturday afternoon. Her total score of 145.76 just kept her in fourth place ahead of Adriana DeSanctis (CO). The crowd loved her skate and booed her score of 93.64, but less noticeable mistakes held her back from scoring higher. She landed a clean triple flip-double toe loop combination at the beginning of the program, but under-rotated her solo triple flip, as well as both jumps on her double Axel-double toe loop combination.

Although Najarro’s combination spin was a level four, her flying camel spin was only a level two, as were her steps. The small losses in points added up, and her free skate was only ranked fifth. Still, it was a terrific effort for the 17-year-old who skates internationally as a junior. Her performance in Victoria should make her a favorite to make the Junior World team.

With a fourth-place free skate that scored 96.42 points, DeSanctis finished in fifth, just behind Najarro, with a total score of 144.23. Her Rhapsody in Blue program had plenty of energy and she skated with a lot of determination. Although she struggled with the landings of some of her jumps, including her triple flip and triple Salchow, she stayed on her feet. One of the highlights was her opening combination, a triple Lutz-double toe loop that was quite secure.

DeSanctis also landed a great double Axel-double Axel sequence after the halfway point. She also missed a few points on non-jump elements; her layback spin looked rushed and it was only a level two, and her circular step sequence only earned level one, but overall, she left a great impression with her program. Up one spot from last year, she reached her goal of finishing in the top five to make the national team.

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