HIGH ACHIEVERS: Stay-Safe Edition
Keeping Local Sport Spirit High During the Pandemic
By Martin Cleary
WEEKEND WRAP: Figure skater David Shteyngart is making up for lost competition time in a major way.
After having no meets from March, 2020, through July, 2021, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Gloucester Skating Club athlete has been almost untouchable in his eight skating championships and a variety of other opportunities over the past five months.
His latest chance to excel was this past weekend in Regina at Skate Canada Challenge, where he won the men’s novice short program (48.52 points) and the free skate program (94.75 points), which led to the overall title with 143.27 points.
Those placings were an identical match to his results from the Skate Ontario Sectionals last month in Milton. In his eight competitions this summer and fall, which range from championships to performance opportunities, he has six short program wins, eight free skate victories and one third-place result in a short program.
“He’s on a really good run,” said Gloucester Skating Club’s director of skating Darlene Joseph, who coaches Shteyngart, 15. “During COVID-19, he trained a lot off ice and improved his strength.
“He never got injured doing his triples. With so much off-ice training, he came back a stronger and fitter athlete.”
Shteyngart, who has two triple jumps in his short program and five triples in his free skate program, also had company on the Skate Canada Challenge medal podium.
The first-year novice pairs team of Lilly Napier and Joshua Dore of Gloucester placed second with a personal-best overall score of 93.49 points. They were second in both their short and free skate programs and only 2.63 points out of first place.
Reese Rose, 13, a Gananoque, ON., resident who has trained with the Gloucester club for five years, placed eighth overall in novice women’s singles with 111.97 points, after finishing ninth in both the short and free skate programs.
“They (Shteyngart, Napier, Dore and Rose) became better athletes (because of the pandemic),” Joseph added. “They adapted to their changing bodies, strength and kept learning and acquiring skills.”
Nepean Skating Club’s Katherine Medland Spence had a strong free skate to place sixth overall in senior women’s singles with 151.39 points. After placing 12th in the short program at 48.13 points, she improved to fifth in the free skate at 103.26.
The next assignment for the five Ottawa skaters will be the 2022 Canadian Tire National Skating Championships Jan. 6-13 at TD Place.
Minto Skating Club’s Catherine Girard was 31st with 71.93 points in senior women’s singles.
Edward Wang of Nepean placed 17th at 68.74 points in men’s novice singles, while Antong Hou of Nepean was 22nd at 63.74 points in pre-novice men’s singles.
SEVEN LOCAL FIGURE SKATERS QUALIFY FOR CANADIAN CHAMPIONSHIPS
In all, 15 Ottawa and area figure skaters travelled to Regina for the Skate Canada Challenge, which was a qualifying event for the 2022 Canadian Tire National Skating Championships Jan. 6-13 in the TD Place arena at Lansdowne Park.
Here is a club-by-club breakdown of the Ottawa and area results. The seven skaters with an asterisk beside their name will advance to the national championships.
GLOUCESTER SKATING CLUB
*David Shteyngart, novice men’s singles, 1st;
*Lilly Napier and Joshua Dore, novice pairs, 2nd;
*Reese Rose, novice women’s singles, 8th;
Mila Marleau, pre-novice women’s singles, 18th;
Lucille Yang, pre-novice women’s singles, 23rd;
Daniel Kreft, junior men’s singles, 23rd;
Gurshan Riarh, junior men’s singles, 24th;
NEPEAN SKATING CLUB
*Katherine Medland-Spence, senior women’s singles, 6th;
*Edward Wang, novice men’s singles, 17th;
Antong Hou, pre-novice men’s singles, 22nd;
PRESCOTT FIGURE SKATING CLUB
*Matthew Markell, senior men’s singles, 9th;
MINTO SKATING CLUB
Catherine Girard, senior women’s singles, 31st;
GLEN CAIRN SKATING CLUB
Mayka Bertrand, pre-novice men’s singles, 24th;
RIDEAU SKATING CLUB
Liam Carney, junior men’s singles, 19th.
IVANIE BLONDIN POSTS TWO WORLD CUP SPEED SKATING WINS
Ottawa’s Ivanie Blondin was a little under the weather during a break following two long-track, speed skating World Cup meets in Europe. But by the time she reached Salt Lake City, Utah, she was feeling better and it showed on the ice.
Blondin won two of her four races in the three-day competition, capturing her first mass-start race of the season in a photo finish and linking with Ottawa’s Isabelle Weidemann and Valerie Maltais of Saguenay, Que., to win their second straight women’s team pursuit race, this one in a national-record time.
After finishing second in her first three mass-start assignments this season, Blondin charged from sixth place on the final lap and narrowly edged Marijke Groenewoud of The Netherlands. Blondin’s time of eight minutes, 31.87 seconds was one one-hundreth of a second ahead of Groenewoud. The win also put Blondin first in the World Cup standings for women’s mass start.
The women’s team pursuit was another Canada-The Netherlands finish. Canada registered a three-tenths of a second margin of victory, winning in 2:52.390, while The Netherlands stopped the clock in 2:52.692.
“I was a little sick last week and am just coming back from that,” Blondin said. “It was a tough weekend both mentally and physically, but I just put my head down, worked hard and it resulted in some good performances.
“I’m confident with the shape I am in right now and I think it’s transitioning to good results on the ice.”
In her two head-to-head endurance races, Blondin was sixth over 3,000 metres in 3:56.887, and 13th in the 1,500 metres in 1:53.096.
Weidemann placed fourth in the 3,000 metres in 3:55.910, and combined with her earlier two second-place finishes, she is second in the World Cup standings for that discipline. The Netherlands’ Irene Schouten won the 3,000 metres in a personal-best 3:52.899 and is second on the World Cup list.
In her 1,500-metre race, Weidemann skated a personal-best time of 1:54.026 for 15th place.
Ottawa’s Vincent de Haitre continued his slow return to speed skating, after track cycling during the Tokyo Summer Olympics, and was 17th in the men’s 1,000 metres in 1:08.315. Thomas Krol of The Netherlands was first in 1:06.448.
MIKE EVELYN MISSES FIRST WORLD CUP MEDAL BY ONE SPOT
Former hockey player Mike Evelyn of Ottawa came within a blink of an eye of winning his first World Cup bobsleigh medal in Altenberg, Germany.
Evelyn and three-time Olympic pilot Chris Spring of Vancouver posted the second fastest time in the second run of the two-man competition, but when it was added to their 10th-best opening run, they finished fourth overall in 1:50.37.
Spring and Evelyn were 0.14 seconds out of third place and 0.41 behind winner Francesco Friedrich of Germany.
In the four-man World Cup competition, Canada’s No. 2 team of Spring, Sam Giguere of Sherbrooke, Evelyn and Cody Sorensen of Ottawa was 11th in 1:49.28. Friedrich piloted Germany to another victory in 1:47.96.
After finishing 12th in the first run at 54.73, Spring’s team had a remarkable second run of 54.55, which was the sixth fastest.
ATHLETICS ONTARIO HONOURS OTTAWA ATHLETES
A dozen track and field athletes from three Ottawa and area clubs, including one unattached thrower, have been recognized as All-Ontarians by Athletics Ontario for their 2021 achievements.
The Ottawa Lions Track and Field Club placed seven athletes on the honour roll: Shannon Dewar, Adriano Padoin-Castillo, Amelia Van Brabant, Bianca Borgella, Louise Stonham, Nicholas Pedersen and Serge Faucher.
C.A.N.I. Athletics was represented by Alexander Collins, Bryson Patterson and Eliezer Adjibi. Spencer Lewis of Beckwith Athletics Club and unattached Boris Zaitchouk of Ottawa also were All-Ontarians.
STRONG NORDIC SHOWING FOR PIERRE GRALL-JOHNSON
Nakkertok Ski Club’s Pierre Grall-Johnson had a pair of top-10 results during the Canada Cup cross-country skiing opening weekend in Sovereign Lake, B.C.
He was fourth overall in the men’s sprint and was the top U23 racer. Grall-Johnson also was sixth in the 15-kilometre race. Dartmouth College’s Luke Allan of Ottawa finished 11th in the open sprint and was the third junior, and also was 14th overall and the sixth junior in the 15-kilometre race.
In World Cup cross-country skiing in Lillehammer, Norway, Gatineau’s Antoine Cyr was part of the Canadian men’s 4×7.5-kilometre relay team, which finished 10th and only 20 seconds out of fifth place.
INTERNATIONAL EXPERIENCE FOR KARATE’S MEGAN ROCHETTE
Ottawa’s Megan Rochette had to wait until the end of the Junior (U23) Pan American Games for her karate matches in Cali, Columbia.
In her women’s under-55-kilogram class round-robin, she had three matches and recorded one tie and two losses. She finished deadlocked 2-2 with Kelly Fernandes of Brazil in her opening bout before losing to the eventual two finalists.
Rochette lost 1-0 to silver medallist Ericka Sanchez of Mexico and 6-0 to gold medallist Trinity Allen of the United States. She placed seventh overall in the final standings.
Martin Cleary has written about amateur sports for 48 years. A past Canadian sportswriter of the year and Ottawa Sports Awards Lifetime Achievement in Sport Media honouree, Martin retired from full-time work at the Ottawa Citizen in 2012, but continued to write a bi-weekly “High Achievers” column for the Citizen/Sun.
When the pandemic struck, Martin created the “Stay-Safe Edition” to provide some positive news during tough times, via his Twitter account at first and now here at OttawaSportsPages.ca.
Martin can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @martincleary.