Lia Pereira and Trennt Michaud
In their first season together, Canada’s Lia Pereira and Trennt Michaud are rapidly climbing the pairs rankings. After teaming up in the summer of 2023, they won bronze in December at their first international competition—Golden Spin of Zagreb—a Challenger series event. They followed up with another bronze-medal win in their debut together at the 2023 Canadian National Championships in January.
Gaining momentum, the young team made their debut at 2023 Four Continents in Colorado Springs, Colo., where they finished fourth with three new personal best scores. They are now scheduled to compete at the 2023 World Figure Skating Championships in Saitama, Japan, later this month.
Michaud is an experienced pairs competitor, having made three previous trips to Four Continents and Worlds with his previous partner, Evelyn Walsh. Their best placement was a bronze medal at the 2022 Four Continents. Walsh and Michaud were initially planning to continue for the 2022-23 season, however, in August, Walsh announced on Instagram that she would be retiring to pursue her studies.
Michaud knew immediately that he wasn’t done with his competitive career.
“It was the first thing Alison [Purkiss, his coach] asked me after we’d had a conversation with Evelyn,” he recalled. “I said there was no question about it. I wanted to find a new partner and keep going. I love skating, I love competing, and I feel like I haven’t done enough with it yet.”
At the time, Pereira was training as a singles skater, though she wasn’t new to the idea of pairs.
“I did do pairs about five or six years ago, as a little baby novice, and I worked with Alison as my coach,” she said. “I’ve kind of kept the relationship with her throughout these past five years, and my singles coach Nancy [Lemaire], is also very good friends with her. So, when Evelyn decided to move on, Trennt and Ali had messaged Nancy, and Nancy had messaged me, and we had a little meeting and started a little trial. We skated together for a couple of days and then we just kept saying, ‘Oh, well see you tomorrow.’ Things kind of just went from there.”
Pereira and Michaud knew each other a little bit before they teamed up. Five years ago, when Purkiss was relocating her pairs school, her teams skated in Milton, Ontario.
“We skated in Milton for almost a full summer, so I knew Lia from there,” said Michaud. “Alison was working with her and James at the time. And a funny story is that I actually taught Maddie Schizas some pair elements for a little bit while this was all going on!”
While the team clicked quickly, “the biggest challenge was just time,” said Michaud, and Pereira agreed.
“Me and my previous partner were both new to the discipline,” said Pereira. “So, we didn’t really get too far. Obviously, it’s not the same caliber that I’m in now. We just tried to take things slow, while also not really being slow, because we did really want to get out this season and compete.”
Pereira is pleased with the speed she was able to pick up the difficult pair elements.
“There haven’t been any major challenges I can think of, though we did keep the throw doubles in for quite a while,” she pointed out. “This is the second time competing with throw triples this season. That’s the area that we decided would be the final check mark when it came to competing.”
Pereira and Michaud received positive grades of execution (GOE) for their level-three triple twist in both programs at Four Continents and secured a level four at Canadian Nationals.
“I had done a double twist before,” said Pereira. “It was pretty solid right off. I can’t lie. The first time we did a single or double off the ice, I looked at Ali and was, like, ‘yay!’ It was pretty good right off the start.”
“Obviously, from my own experiences,” added Michaud, “I’ve learned a lot of what things I need to do differently. For Allison, it was the same thing. It wasn’t like it was from scratch with Lia, but it was almost from scratch, so she was able to teach the things that she’s learned over the years, as well.”
Pereira also credits her experience as a singles skater with helping her to make the transition into the new discipline.
“It’s not normal to switch to a new discipline this late into my career, but I’ve had the experience of learning new things by myself and becoming more aware of where my arm is or where my head’s at,” she said. “It was a little bit easier for me to be able to take the advice and actually channel it.”
Michaud has also had to make a few adjustments as he learned to work with a new partner.
“Lia has a different body style than Evelyn,” he pointed out. “So there are some things where I’m like, ‘Oh, I used to do it this way’ and I have to do little tweaks of putting my body in a slightly different position. We fast-tracked [Lia’s] experience, so figuring out the balancing points and everything is obviously different, but nothing crazy.”
“There were points where I was like, ‘Ah, I’m sorry!'” Pereira remembered. “Because I was fresh into all these things. But I didn’t really have to change anything. Sometimes it’s almost harder to break the muscle memory than just coming in fresh.”
Pereira competed in both pairs and singles this season, finishing sixth in her Junior Grand Prix event and fifth in the Senior Women at Canadian Nationals. Given her busy schedule, does she have time to sleep?
“Oh, she sleeps a lot!” laughed Michaud.
“I would say it took a couple of weeks to sort out a schedule,” said Pereira. “When we started skating together, I had just gotten back from my junior Grand Prix in Courchevel. We would prioritize one discipline over the other depending on which competition was coming up, making sure to do at least one program of each every day.”
“It’s just great to have such a supportive coaching staff on both sides,” she added. “They communicate really well and we communicate with them. Some days I do mornings or later evenings, just kind of seeing what works best, and it ended up working out quite well.”
Pereira hasn’t decided yet whether she’ll continue with singles next season.
“I love to skate,” she reaffirmed. “I love singles. I love pairs. I just love being at the rink every day. We have had our heads down for Four Continents as there was a tight turnaround [from Canadians]. And we’re very excited about Worlds. This is my first Worlds, and my first time going to Japan. So, I’ve just been really narrowed down and focused on that, and I haven’t really had time to think about it, but I’m sure there will be a discussion in the future.”
What have Pereira and Michaud learned about each other as they’ve built their partnership?
“I think like a major thing for us is that we share the same love of the sport,” Pereira noted. “Sometimes when you get to a high enough level, skating almost is just like a job. And people go to the rink and just do their stuff and get out of there. Whereas we look forward to skating every day. It’s nice to share that passion, especially when we skate together. It’s not super common, that we’ve experienced, anyways.”
Michaud was ready with his answer.
“Lia didn’t know what disc golf was until me!”
“I know a lot about disc golf now!” laughed Pereira.
Michaud’s disc golf hobby was even a part of the team’s time in Colorado Springs.
“We played the first thing when we got here,” he said. “I got discs shipped to Danny O’Shea’s house, because he lives here, so it was cheaper for me than to take it from home. Yeah, I love disc golf so much. People are like, ‘oh, like what do you do besides skating?’ ‘Disc golf.’ ‘Okay, anything else?’ I’m like, ‘No, I skate, I go play disc golf, I coach, and I have my dog.'”
Pereira, on the other hand, likes to relax and express her creativity by doing her nails.
“I can add extensions,” she said. “I can do the designs. That’s my downtime for the week. Every Friday night or on the weekends, just having time to myself to do my nails, that’s kind of my thing.”
Both skaters are looking forward to the World Championships in Japan, and sightseeing while they are there.
“Our schedule is actually really nice for Worlds,” noted Michaud. “We’re done on Thursday, and we don’t leave till Monday. My first Worlds was actually in Japan. So, I’m excited because I know a little bit about what it will be like, like the hotel is really nice. There’s so much to do in Tokyo. I’m excited to show Lia and get to do a lot of that stuff with her there too. And skating in Japan is amazing. I know how I feel about it, and I know she’s gonna love it!”
“I’m excited for that,” agreed Pereira. “We love skating for a crowd, and it was really nice to have that at Nationals this year, and Four Continents, as well. I know Japan is like, next level, so I’m looking forward to that.”
“It’s really different, there were 80,000 people there for our long program,” Michaud reminisced, regarding 2019 Worlds. “And after we were done, we were watching the men’s, and it was when Yuzuru was at his best. Nathan was beating Yuzu after the short, and Yuzu skates absolutely clean, in Japan. It rained Pooh bears, like it took 15 minutes for them to get all them off the ice! They literally just started throwing them over the board’s back into the audience, because they’re trying to get it off as quick as possible. Nathan’s just in the middle of the ice, skating around, not even on the full ice. And then he just lays it down. I loved to see how appreciative the fans were, of what both skaters did, it wasn’t like they were angry towards Nathan. It’s so cool to see.”
Pereira and Michaud will join their teammates Deanna Stellato-Dudek/Maxime Deschamps and Brooke MacIntosh/Benjamin Mimar in Saitama.