Just two weeks after they finished third at the Canadian Nationals, Anabelle Langlois and Patrice Archetto won the silver medal at the Four Continents Figure Skating Championship in Korea, losing a split decision to China’s Pang and Tong. By the time the pairs competition at the Olympics was over, they had done three major competitions in six weeks. “It’s hard to go to three competitions in a row and go through all the time changes,” she said. “And you have to worry that your skates will be there when you arrive. You can’t borrow them.” They also won the bronze in their first Grand Prix event, Skate Canada, last year. “That was our most exciting competition, since it was out first Grand Prix and we won a medal,” Langlois added.
Langlois said, “My father taught me to skate when I was two. My two brothers and my sister both skated and both of my brothers play hockey. I took the CanSkate classes and progressed pretty quickly. It was natural for me. I started pairs when I was 15, the same year I started landing triples. I had seen pairs on television and it looked pretty exciting. I did both for a couple of years and skated in novice ladies the last time Canadians was in Hamilton. I actually got up to divisionals in junior ladies, but it was too tough to handle both and do well.”
“My mother wanted me to skate,” Archetto stated. “I did both skating and hockey until I was 15, then I had to make a choice between the two. I was playing defenseman on a highly ranked hockey team that made the finals in AAA when I was 14 and I had made the divisionals in figure skating at 15. I chose figure skating, but I still play hockey for fun, after the skating season. A lot of skaters play for fun once a week during the summer.”
Archetto decided to concentrate on pairs when he was 18. “I had always liked the discipline,” he said, “and I wanted to go to Nationals. I landed my first triple at 17 and had all the triples up to the flip clean, but only a double Axel, so I thought I would have a better chance in pairs. I did get to Nationals in junior men in 1993, where I placed eighth, but I started pairs that year with Marylin Luis. We were fifth in junior pairs that year, then third, and finally first in Halifax in 1995.” Archetto later skated with Caroline Roy.
“My mother is a provincial judge,” he said. “When I lost my previous partner she had seen Anabelle and thought she was a good skater with a lot of potential and the right body for pairs even though she hadn’t even skated junior pairs before.” “I’ve never skated with any other partner and I don’t think I could skate with anyone else,” Langlois said. “Patrice is a very trustworthy partner. He’s very consistent and always tries to protect me although we don’t have a lot of falls. We complete each other very well. He’s very calm and I’m up and down.” Archetto responded, “she’s aggressive. She has guts. You have to have guts to do pairs. She’s very sparkly and has charm on the ice and a great smile. Anabelle is small but very strong. She’s very competitive. And we communicate very well.”
Langlois and Archetto jumped right into the senior pairs competition, finishing eighth in divisionals their first year. Last year, they finished third at Canadians, a feat they repeated in 2002, earning a spot at the Olympics in Salt Lake City, thus accomplishing their goals for the season. “We were training really well and having a good season, but until Nationals, we really didn’t know how things were going to go,” Archetto said. “We intend to skate for at least four more years,” Langlois stated. “We want to go to this Olympics for the experience.” They finished 12th, not a bad result for their first Olympics. Eventually, they hope to become Canadian, World, and Olympic champions.
The couple trains for three to four hours a day, five days a week, at Ecole JPS 2000 in St. Julie, Quebec with Josee Picard. Langlois’ former coach, Sylvie DeCaen, assists in coaching the team when Picard has a conflict. The skaters also do some off ice training when they can find the time. “Our best side-by-side jump is the triple toe,” Langlois said. “The triple salchow is the hardest to synchronize in pairs because the guy and the girl don’t have the same size edge.” “I really like lifts the best,” she continued. “You can get really creative.” Archetto said, “lifts are cool but I think the pairs spins are interesting. You can try lots of different things.” “That’s what I hate the most,” she replied. “Next year, we might change the pairs spins or the side-by-side spins and we’ll probably have a different lift,” Archetto added. “We’ve tried some of the lifts that Lloyd (Eisler) and Isabelle (Brasseur) did including the one arm lift, but it was too risky. Our new lift will depend on which lift is required for the short program next year.”
Their coach mainly chooses the music for the couple’s programs but Anabelle noted, “if we don’t like it, we change it. It’s hard to skate good if you don’t like the music. When you hear the music you know right away whether it’s right or wrong.” This year they used “Puerto Vallarta Squeeze” and “Gypsy Earrings” for the short program and “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg” for the long. “I never thought I would skate to that,” Archetto mentioned. He normally listens to hard rock like Pearl Jam and Tragically Hip, while she’ll listen to anything. Brian Adams is one of her favorites.
Both skaters like to visit their families when it’s time to relax. He also likes to go to the movies and play games on a Playstation that Langlois got him for Christmas. They also just got a computer that they use for school, communicating with Skate Canada, and emailing friends. “We have to manage our own careers,” Langlois said. “Having a computer was a must. Now we can do all of our thank you letters on it. We try to thank the fans who give us things.” Langlois has a collection of frogs. “My coach started it,” she said. “She always gave me one before the long program. Now everyone brings me frogs.” Archetto has elephants, a trend his mother started. “He also has caps,” Langlois added. “He has caps for everything.” They also volunteer for the Foundation Charles Bruneau.
Langlois is a world traveler from way back. She traveled around the world with her parents as a child, visiting Europe, Africa, China, India, Japan, Indonesia, Australia and New Zealand. “I really like exotic countries,” she said. “Japan is a little too Americanized now. For holidays, I like to go to the beach in Florida. It’s tough not going to the beach in the skating season.” Archetto hasn’t traveled nearly as much but noted that he greatly enjoyed St. Gervais, France. “The people were friendly and the view was incredible,” he said.
Langlois is also a student at Edouard Mont-Pettit College in Quebec. “I’ve been doing many diplomas,” she said. “I took this year off because of the Olympics, but I hope to start taking correspondence courses with the computer. I’d like to be a child psychologist.” Archetto has trained to be a firefighter. “I did the two basic courses you need to be hired and got my diploma, but then I moved. Now I’m too old to finish, since 27 is the maximum age for the fire school.” Archetto is 29.
Funding is a problem for the promising pair. “We’re living away from home and it’s expensive,” Archetto said. “We have a few small sponsors. Our chiropractor treats us for free. Our hairdresser is free. Skatewear gives us our costumes, and my mom does all the beading and sequins.” He works 12-14 hours a week as a bartender, while Langlois works at a variety of jobs in a recreational center, working in the diary bar, the restaurant, and the bar. “I was working 30 hours a week before Nationals,” she said. Hopefully, their paycheck from Four Continents will allow them to work less and concentrate on their skating more next season. “Our goals are in skating now,” Langlois said. “We’d like to stay focused on our skating.”