Golden Skate

Roxanne Rheault takes junior gold

Roxanne Rheault won the Junior Ladies title at the 2011 BMO Junior Canadian Figure Skating Championships.

In a closely-contested junior free skate, it was Roxanne Rheault of Québec who became the junior champion of Canada on Wednesday night in Victoria.

Fourth in this event last year, Rheault’s sassy Tango de Roxanne free skate vaulted her to the top of the podium in 2011. She earned 78.13 points in the free, which placed her second of the night, but she had enough of a lead to ensure her overall victory with a total of 123.66 points.

Rheault hit a clean triple toe loop and two excellent double Axels – one as part of a three-jump combination, in her free skate. She went for a triple flip, and stayed up on it, but it was downgraded and only given credit for a double. Still, the jump is an important stepping stone as she moves into the senior ranks next year.

Rheault last stood on the Canadian podium in 2008, when she won silver at the pre-novice level.

Although Kitty Qian (BC/YT) was first in the free with an 81.51-point program, she did not quite have enough points to take the overall title.

Qian’s score of 121.29 was just over two points off the lead, but she has a lot to be proud of as she landed three clean triples in the free skate. Both of her triple Salchows were good, as was her opening triple toe loop, and she attempted a triple loop (and got credit for the triple), but fell on the landing. She was seventh in this event last year and won the silver medal at Junior Nationals in 2009 on the novice level.

Julianna Sagaria’s Warsaw Concerto free skate, though ranked fourth with 73.55 points, helped her stay on the podium—just barely—with a total score of 115.34.

One of Sagaria’s goals for the season was to become consistent with her triple flip, and she squeezed out the jump in her free skate. Although it was underrotated and did not receive full credit, the attempt was admirable. Her spins and steps were good, though, which helped her stay on the podium to win her second national medal (she won silver in juvenile division in 2007).

Natasha Purich (AB/NT/NU) had a long day on Wednesday. After winning the junior pairs title, she barely had time to celebrate before she had to refocus for the junior ladies free skate. She entered the free in sixth and had hoped to win her second medal of the day, but with a 77.19-point third-place free skate, she ended up fourth overall – a heartbreaking .06 away from the podium.

Purich’s charming Offenbach program was highlighted by three clean triples, two toe loops and a Salchow. The mental toughness that she exhibited to skate two longs in medal contention on the same day was inspiring and will only help her, wherever her skating career takes her in the future.

Finishing with 108.47 points, Karelle Nadeau (QC) moved up from ninth in the short to finish fifth overall. Her Riverdance free skate earned 72.11 points and was also ranked fifth. While she did not attempt any triple jumps, she skated cleanly and earned solid Grades of Execution on her spins and steps to help her reach the top five. She was 14th in Canada on the novice level last year, so she made a huge leap up the standings in 2011.

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