By Martin Cleary
A pair of young, accomplished Gloucester Skating Club athletes made their international figure skating debuts last weekend and finished only a few points shy of a medal in their separate competitions.
Junior women’s singles skater Reese Rose, who is from Gananoque, ON., but lives, attends high school and trains in Ottawa, and advanced novice women’s singles competitor Lucille Yang presented impressive and consistent programs to earn top-five results at the Coupe du Printemps competition in Luxembourg.
Rose, a member of Skate Canada’s NextGen team, placed fourth in the women’s junior field of 30 emerging skaters with a season-best score of 156.78 points. She was a mere 0.52 points behind Canadian Aleksa Volkova of Lac Brome, PQ., who earned the bronze medal.
Japanese skaters dominated the International Skating Union event for up-and-coming skaters. Ami Nakai, who was the bronze medallist at this year’s world junior championships in Calgary, was first in both the short and free skate programs with an untouchable 198.23 points. Yo Takagi was runner-up at 179.78.
Rose trailed Nakai by less than five points following the short program, scoring a season-best 59.45 points for second place in the standings. In the free-skate final, Rose earned 97.33 points, which left her fourth in that segment and fourth overall.
Yang, the 2023 Canadian novice champion, placed sixth in the advanced novice women’s short program at 36.33 points. She used her fifth-place showing in the free skate with 68.82 points to climb one spot to fifth in the overall standings at 105.15 points.
Her consistency also left Yang, the 2023 Skate Canada Challenge bronze medallist, on the doorstep of the medal podium. She was 3.06 points away from the bronze as well as 2.69 points out of fourth place.
Their results from Coupe du Printemps put Rose and Yang, who are training partners at Gloucester and will compete in women’s junior singles in 2023-24, in a good position to be considered by Skate Canada for ISU Junior Grand Prix competitions next season.
“They were very excited to represent Canada, travelling as a team, learning how to compete after jet lag, competing in different arenas, and being in a competition that’s run differently,” said Darlene Joseph, who coaches both Rose and Yang at Gloucester.
As an example, while Rose had all her practice and competition ice time in Luxembourg, Yang needed to travel south by train with another coach and the team leader to Metz, France, for a one-hour practice session.
Rose skated a clean short program, which featured an opening triple loop jump, a triple toe loop-double toe loop jump combination and a double Axel. But after the judges filed their marks, which placed Rose second, she learned she received the best Total Program Component score of 27.37 points for composition, presentation and skating skills. Nakai scored 27.26 points.
“Her consistency has improved,” Joseph explained. “She was able to do the skills, but not on demand. She improved at nationals (where she was sixth).
“Reese was confident, fast, powerful and the judges really liked her and rewarded her with good marks.”
Entering the free-skate final, Rose was somewhat rattled, after crashing into the arena boards during her morning practice. In competition, she fell on her triple flip and triple Salchow jumps as a result of the morning fall, but did land three triples, including two in combinations.
“Reese and another skater were close and she lost her edge,” Joseph said about Rose’s fall into the boards. “She had a sore left, lower back. We knew it would be tough (to skate), but she showed grit and determination.”
The injury affected her jumping take-off for the triple flip and triple Salchow and resulted in her two falls.
“When she realized she was less than one point away from a medal, she went ‘Aw,’ Joseph continued. “She handled it really well.”
While Yang didn’t complete her opening triple loop jump in the short program, she rebounded well with a clean triple Lutz-double toe loop combination and a double Axel.
Except for a fall on her triple Lutz jump, Yang showed her strength and power in a solid free-skate program, which had to be adjusted for her international program by eliminating one jump, one spin and shortening the length by 30 seconds.
“She had a good competition,” Joseph added. “There were some high-level skaters there. We were hoping for top-10 results. For both girls to be top five was amazing.”
Rose and Yang have completed their 2022-23 seasons, but are scheduled for one junior domestic summer competition. There also could be more international meets on the horizon for them.
“I do think they are ready for Junior Grand Prix competitions. It would be a good thing for their development,” Joseph said. “If they continue to improve their power and consistency, they will have more opportunities to test themselves.”
Martin Cleary has written about amateur sports for 50 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 High Achievers “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 email@example.com and on Twitter @martincleary.
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