Canada’s Rudi Swiegers lifts Paige Lawrence while competing in the pairs short program at the Four Continents Figure Skating Championships in Colorado Springs, Colo., in February. (FILE PHOTO)
Paige Lawrence and Rudi Swiegers will put Virden in the international figure skating spotlight again this weekend.
The Saskatchewan-born pairs skaters, who have lived and trained full-time in Virden for the past three years, will compete in the prestigious Skate Canada International event, starting Friday afternoon in Windsor, Ont.
Lawrence is looking forward to getting off to a good start in one of the highlights of the figure skating season in Canada, after placing a disappointing eighth last year following their bronze-medal finish at their first Skate Canada International appearance in 2010.
"Our programs, although they are not perfect yet, we’re feeling pretty confident about them, so I think it is going to be a good start this weekend and we are really looking forward to it," Lawrence said.
Skate Canada International will feature some of the top skaters in the world, including Canadian world champions Patrick Chan and ice dancers Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir. Lawrence and Swiegers, who were bronze medallists at last season’s national championships, will compete in a field of eight top pairs teams, including reigning Canadian champions Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford, as well as world champions Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy of Germany.
Coach Patty Hole of Virden said this weekend’s field will be a great test for Lawrence, 22, and Swiegers, 25.
"Skate Canada is always big," Hole said. "We went in the first year and we weren’t supposed to do anything and we won bronze and we went last year and finished eighth, so you never know. Every team is equal every year we go. Everybody is after that ultimate dream which is now 14 months from now, which is the Olympics and everything is a buildup to where we’re going … so it will be good. The world champions, ranked No.1 in the world, are there this year and we have never been on the ice against this team … so that’s exciting. And Canada’s No.1 team of Meagan (Duhamel) and Eric (Radford) are there as well, so the field is quite strong."
Skate Canada International is the second of six major competitions on the International Skating Union Grand Prix circuit, which begins the qualifying process for the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Hole is hoping for big things from her two skaters this weekend.
"I guess our biggest thing is we have numbers that we want to get for our short and long program," Hole said. "So if they accomplish the points that we want them to, they could (make the) podium."
Lawrence and Swiegers are coming off a silver medal performance at a pre-season competition in Salt Lake City last month and hope to be in the medal hunt this weekend after last year’s disappointing finish.
"Last year wasn’t the performance that we wanted to start our season off with, to be 100 per cent honest," Lawrence said. "It wasn’t our strongest competition, but we’re starting more prepared this year than we were last year at this time, so I think we will go into it a little more confident and we’re going to have a better program this year than we did last year …
"Every competitor is going in there looking to medal, so we are really focusing on good scores and personal bests … but yeah, it would be awesome to medal and we’re hoping for a top three finish for sure."
ICE CHIPS: Lawrence and Swiegers will also travel to Russia next month to compete in the fourth stop on the Grand Prix tour, the Rostelecom Cup from Nov. 9-11 in Moscow … The Virden duo will also look to improve upon its bronze medal at the 2013 Canadian Figure Skating Championships in Mississauga, Ont., from Jan. 13-20 ... Virden’s Kaleigh Hole, 19, has officially retired from figure skating and is now focusing on running track and field — sprints and hurdles — for the University of Western Ontario and trying to qualify for the 2013 Canada Summer Games. The former Skate Brandon standout won multiple provincial titles and went on to compete at nationals in both pairs — finishing fifth at the 2011 Canadians — and in women’s singles in 2012.
1-4 p.m. pairs (TSN)
6:30-10:30 p.m. (TSN2)
Noon-3 p.m. pairs (TSN2)
3-5 p.m. (CTV)
7-9 p.m. (CTV)
6-8 p.m. (TSN2)
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition October 24, 2012