Home Figure Skating News Stellato-Dudek and Deschamps defend national title

Stellato-Dudek and Deschamps defend national title

by Ted Flett
Skate Canada

Deanna Stellato-Dudek and Maxime Deschamps win third national title

(L-R) Lia Pereira and Trennt Michaud (ON), Deanna Stellato-Dudek and Maxime Deschamps (QC) and Kelly Ann Laurin and Loucas Ethier (QC) pose during the medal ceremony at the 2024 Canadian Skating National Championships.

2024 Canadian Skating National Championships: Pairs

Deanna Stellato-Dudek and Maxime Deschamps (QC) defended their national title at the WinSport Arena in Calgary on Saturday. Rising stars Lia Pereira and Trennt Michaud (ON) moved up one spot from last year to take silver medal position. Kelly Ann Laurin and Loucas Ethier (QC) won the bronze in their third appearance as seniors.

Deanna Stellato-Dudek and Maxime Deschamps

Stellato-Dudek and Deschamps were largely expected to dominate in Calgary given their season success. After the Grand Prix Final, the team decided to focus on their throw jumps in training.

Following the short program, the 2023 Skate Canada champions were perplexed by two significant errors. Deschamps stepped out of the triple toe loop and Stellato-Dudek fell on the throw triple loop.

Stellato-Dudek relayed they had been working heavily on throws for the past three weeks and was surprised with the fall. The team explained that given their speed this season, they removed a crosscut and changed the pattern into the throw jumps. This was done in order to fit the elements onto the ice surface, which has meant some adjustment.

“It’s a new day tomorrow,” said Deschamps after the short program, which scored a low total of 66.86. “We have to leave what happened tonight behind and restart tomorrow.”

In their “Interview with a Vampire” free skate, the duo stumbled through both side-by-side jump elements. However, they composed themselves to land clean throw jumps in the second half of the program and reclaim their national championship. They earned 138.93 points for the outing, which also featured two level-four lifts, finishing with 205.79 points overall.

“We’re happy that we were able to come back from that really bad performance yesterday and show the work I’ve been doing on those throws,” said Stellato-Dudek. “Those were two very smoothly landed throws, and I was not going to back down on those after what happened yesterday.”

“The second half of the program was really good tonight,” Deschamps chimed in. “But the first half, we had more difficulty tonight with the jumps, especially my jumps.”

Upon realizing that she was a back-to-back national champion, Stellato-Dudek said, “I feel like Michael Jordan!”

Looking towards the last two competitions of the year, Stellato-Dudek was clear regarding the team’s training goals.

“Yeah, we wanted to secure the second half of our program, because all year, with the exception of the Final, the second half has been pretty secure. And in practice, it was always like, ‘Okay, well, we know we got the second half going.’ So, we wanted to get that back and we did that here. So, the next step for Four Continents, and Worlds of course, will be to clean up the first half of the program and maintain the second half as well.”

The 40-year-old also emphasized her hopes in Shanghai and Montreal.

“I’m very mathematical,” she said. “We have the highest score of the entire season by a large margin, so we are our own biggest competitors. All we have to do is our own job, and I know what the outcome is going to be.”

“Sometimes with a bit of insecurities and a little bit of stress and expectations, it gets away from you a little bit,” said choreographer Julie Marcotte, who was seemingly unphased by the side-by-side jumps problems exhibited by Maxime in Calgary. “So, it’s just a question of Max recentering himself and building the confidence back.”

Lia Pereira and Trennt Michaud

Pereira and Michaud continued their consistent execution of strong programs this season. They skated a fairly clean short program despite several slight changes to the program: costumes, music (still “River” but a softer version), jump set ups, and choreography. Pereira said the changes were motivated by feedback from judges and coaches, as well as a recognition that as a new team, their musical and choreographic style is still crystallizing.

“It’s things we want to continue to improve on for the second half of the season,” said Michaud about the changes in the short program. “But I think it was a great start for the second half.”

Pereira said that the throw pattern helps to portray their confidence in the element. She said she was inspired by 2022 World Champions Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier of the USA whose throws featured a grand set up that showcased the element’s “velocity.”

In their “Gladiator” free skate, Pereira and Michaud managed a score of 127.10 for a total competition score of 193.14. Both side-by-side jump elements had problems, mainly by Michaud, and Pereira fell on the throw triple salchow. However, the team managed a confident throw triple loop early in the program. Their lifts and death spiral received level-four grading by the judges.

“We want to be national champions and we want to keep pushing them, so that, you know, we don’t make it easy on them,” Pereira said of the team’s budding rivalry with Stellato-Dudek and Deschamps. “And we want to keep putting out our good skates. Today, it was still great, considering the circumstances. I am very upset about the throw, but it’s going to be a moving-forward point in practice to just, you know, not really allow that to happen.”

“This was the first time feeling like an attacking position for ourselves for that sort of thing,” Michaud said about the close-point margins between first and second place after the short program. “And, I think last year, we were just, like, happy to be at Nationals because it was a whirlwind to get there. So, it’s different in that sense.”

The skater remains optimistic, however. “There’s a big ceiling for us and we want to keep pushing.”

Pereira was resolute in agreement. “We’re here to stay guys and we’re not new anymore,” she affirmed. “We’re here.”

Kelly Ann Laurin and Loucas Ethier

Laurin and Ethier were chuffed to complete a clean short program set to “All Right Now” by Superhuman. They landed side-by-side triple Salchows and a steady throw triple loop. They earned 62.21 points from the judges and received a level-four on the combination spin.

Laurin loved performing in front of her family and friends in the stands. “It was very nice,” she boasted.

Ethier said that following their performances at NHK Trophy, the team prioritized training of their speed and the quality of their elements.

“I want to be happy after I finish,” Laurin said, looking forward to the free skate. “Be proud of what I did and be the same as how we train at home.”

Laurin got her wish in the team’s superb tango-inspired free skate set to “You Don’t Own Me” by Brenna Whitaker and “Independent Mind” by Karl Hugo. The team scored 125.19 points and showed a sturdy level-two triple twist and side-by-side triple Salchows. Their steadiness continued with a clean throw triple loop and throw triple Salchow. Their confidence appeared to swell as they executed element after element. With a total competition score of 187.40, the Quebec team clinched the bronze medals.

“I’m very, very, very happy about myself and in him,” Laurin said, smiling and pointing at Ethier.

“Here, we felt like we were really at our place,” Ethier said. “And, in the final warm up, we felt really comfortable. Sometimes we feel a little intimidated but, this weekend, we really, really felt comfortable and I think it showed in our in our performances.”

“Obviously, we really wanted to get on that podium,” said Ethier. “But, beyond that, it was just like, personal challenges, and we just wanted to skate for ourselves. Overall, we were really happy with the score. We were aiming for the 120 mark and finally getting above that and even five points more, just really high satisfaction for us.”

Today is Ethier’s dad’s birthday and the skater said, “I felt like I skated that one for him.”

Elizabeth Thibodeau-Mailhot and Daniel Villeneuve (QC) took fourth place overall (140.18), followed by Fiona Bombardier and Gabriel Farand (QC) (137.77) and Emy Carignan and Bryan Pierro (QC) (135.38).

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