Canada has a rich pairs tradition with several highly competitive teams vying for the title each year. This year there were five strong teams battling for the three Olympic spots, with world champions Jamie Sale and David Pelletier a virtual lock for the title. That meant that the remaining teams, all with international experience, had only a 50-50 chance of making the team. Surprisingly, the unheralded pair of Jacinthe Lariviere and Lenny Faustino took the silver medal. The couple had finished no higher that sixth in their previous Canadian Nationals and had only a bronze medal in juniors. But they skated strongly in both programs and well deserved their silver medal.
The Canadian pair does have a strong international history, having won gold at the 2001 Nebelhorn Trophy, silver there in 1998 and 1999, as well as silver at the 1997 Sofia Cup and the 1998 Grand Prize SNP. They finished seventh twice at Junior Worlds, but had not done well at Grand Prix events, with their best result a fifth at Trophee Lalique in 2001.
The couple had hoped to win a medal at Canadians, making the Canadian team for the World Championships and Olympics, but realized that their chances weren’t the best, especially after the teams that finished ahead of them last year scored well at the fall internationals. Faustino, who was considering retirement after Canadians, stated that “we were hoping for the bronze, but were completely surprised to win the silver.” But they had no time to savor their accomplishment, as they were assigned to compete at the Four Continents Championship in Korea in late January, where they finished seventh. Then it was off to Salt Lake City, where they finished a respectable tenth.
Faustino’s mother took him to the rink to watch his older sister skate when he was two, but he didn’t start until he was eight. “I was a big kid and my coach had some pairs, but I did some dance first before I did pairs,” he said. Lariviere’s father took her to CanSkate classes when she was three, then she skated in ladies up to the novice level at Sectionals before deciding to concentrate on pairs. The two teamed up after Nadia Micallef recommended Jacinthe as a partner to Lenny when they were rollerblading one day. Their tryout went well and Jacinthe moved to Mariposa to train with Faustino and coach Lee Barkell.
“Lenny’s very strong and fast and he’s really good at lifting,” Jacinthe stated. “We never have a bad fall. He always saves me.” “Lifts are the most enjoyable part of pairs skating. It’s fun to make the difficult seem easy,” Lenny added. “They’re a very strong feature of our skating.” He noted that Jacinthe was “very dedicated. She’s always ready to learn and to try new things.” This includes a throw triple loop and a throw triple salchow, which they have included in their programs this season.
The skaters are using “Salut d’Amour” for their short program this year, choreographed by David Wilson. For the free skate, they are using music from “Romeo and Juliet.” “I like to skate to classical music,” Faustino stated. “It’s easy to skate to.” Off ice, he prefers “Latin and ballroom dancing music” while Jacinthe said she listens to “lots of different kinds of music, but no heavy metal.”
The pair only trains on ice about two hours a day together, plus another hour on their own, and an hour off ice. Both are students, with Lenny taking a full load of classes in marketing at Georgian College. “I like to further my education,” he said. “There are so many different things you can do. If you just do one thing all the time, you can go crazy.” He also works at Home Depot to help fund their training. Jacinthe has reduced her class load to two courses instead of four during the season as she works on her Ontario academic certificate. She plans to either coach or do choreography in the future, while he is training to become a judge. The skaters have thought some about a professional career, but Faustino noted that “you can’t be a professional until you’ve done something, like win a national championship, and we haven’t done that yet.”
Skating and studying leave the pair with little free time. Jacinthe likes to go home and visit her parents or go to the beach or boating on the weekends. She also likes shopping and has taken up ballroom dancing with one of her friends. Lenny said he reads a lot and enjoys seeing his parents and his girlfriend. He also does website designs on his computer. His goal is to have “pages for skaters by skaters.” He also works with the Big Brothers program to help troubled kids.