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Brandon Sun - PRINT EDITION

Virden skaters set to take on the world

Rudi Swiegers lifts pairs partner Paige Lawrence during their short program at the Winter Olympics last month in Sochi, Russia. The skaters are now preparing for the world championships which take place in Saitama, Japan from March 24-30.

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Rudi Swiegers lifts pairs partner Paige Lawrence during their short program at the Winter Olympics last month in Sochi, Russia. The skaters are now preparing for the world championships which take place in Saitama, Japan from March 24-30. (FILE PHOTO)

Paige Lawrence and Rudi Swiegers haven’t had much rest since returning home from the time of their lives at the Winter Olympics.

The Virden pairs figure skaters have been training every day after coming back to Manitoba as they prepare for the world championships in Saitama, Japan, from March 24-30. After finishing 14th at the Olympics with a total score of 161.98, Lawrence and Swiegers are looking to build upon their success in Sochi, Russia.

"In our experience, we try to take what we did in the last competition and improve upon it," said Lawrence, who celebrated her 24th birthday in Russia. "I think it’s kind of the same thing as going to worlds. We’ve never been to worlds before and it’s a very exciting experience. We just want to take the two good programs we had at the Olympics and do better."

Swiegers and Lawrence had a blast at the Olympics. They were done their event early, which gave them a chance to roam around for the rest of the Games.

They caught a number of hockey games — including the gold medal contests — as well as some of the skiing and skating events. Their time in Russia after they were done skating was another way to relax and enjoy the Olympic experience.

Lawrence admits it was strange coming back from the excitement of spending three weeks at the Olympics to training out of the spotlight back in Virden, where they have lived for the past five years since moving from Saskatchewan. The 26-year-old Swiegers has also noticed a difference since coming home.

"Definitely there’s a little Olympic-itis and everybody deals with it in a different way," he said. "Lucky for us, we were finished competing on the 12th (of February) and were there until the 25th. We had more than a couple days to decompress from the competition stage of it and trying to accept what we were able to do and accomplish, and I think it will hit us in a couple years from now."

The morning after they returned to Canada, Lawrence and Swiegers were back on the ice to prepare for their first-ever world championships. They’re not making any major changes to their Olympic programs, opting for minor tweaks.

The pair know that their placing and scores are not in their control, and it all comes down to the judges, but they would love a top-10 finish and to set a personal-best score of 115 on their free skate and break 60 on their short program.

Swiegers is also excited for the opportunity to travel to Japan to put a cap on a special season.

"We’re very excited," he said. "This season in itself has had many challenges and many ups and downs, but it’s one of our best seasons ever with us having a very successful Olympics and now off to worlds, which has been a huge goal for years that we haven’t been able to grasp yet.

"Now we’ve done both and we’re very excited about going to a world championship for the first time and we’re going to take it in and enjoy the experience."

Lawrence, who has battled a groin injury for most of the season, is also looking forward to going to Japan, especially considering how passionate fans there are for figure skating.

"Japan is such a great country to go to for skating events because the fans there are just the best," she said. "They’re so into it and they make you feel so at home and so special. To have that kind of crowd on top of a world championship, I think it will be pretty amazing."

» cjaster@brandonsun.com

Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition March 11, 2014

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Paige Lawrence and Rudi Swiegers haven’t had much rest since returning home from the time of their lives at the Winter Olympics.

The Virden pairs figure skaters have been training every day after coming back to Manitoba as they prepare for the world championships in Saitama, Japan, from March 24-30. After finishing 14th at the Olympics with a total score of 161.98, Lawrence and Swiegers are looking to build upon their success in Sochi, Russia.

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Paige Lawrence and Rudi Swiegers haven’t had much rest since returning home from the time of their lives at the Winter Olympics.

The Virden pairs figure skaters have been training every day after coming back to Manitoba as they prepare for the world championships in Saitama, Japan, from March 24-30. After finishing 14th at the Olympics with a total score of 161.98, Lawrence and Swiegers are looking to build upon their success in Sochi, Russia.

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