While this was Keegan Messing’s last trip to the Canadian Championships, he is the author of the final chapter in this story.
And it goes way beyond the first senior men’s title he clinched on Saturday night in Ottawa, setting up a free skate strong enough to stand up to the challenge of 2020 national champion Roman Sadovsky.
Messing’s odyssey to get to Ottawa was quite a story in itself, lasting around 33 hours (his wife, Lane, and young son Wyatt were also part of the adventure). But it wasn’t until 9:30 p.m. the day before the men’s short program that he even knew which pair of skates he would be wearing.
That’s because his usual skates, which were in checked baggage on the series of flights that took him from his home in Alaska to Canada’s capital, did not accompany him to Ottawa. On a frenzied Thursday, his skate maker (Jackson) managed to get Messing a pair of white skates that he was set to wear in competition on Friday – until his regular skates finally showed up later that evening. .
No wonder Messing opened his media session after the event with “a huge thank you to everyone who put me on the ice.” It was really a team effort. “
After all of the drama was put aside, Messing came out and performed well enough to win the men’s short program by around three points. One night later, he followed Sadovsky’s strong free skate with a brave effort on his part to grab the gold medal. Messing finished with an overall score of 258.03, while Sadovsky got 247.60. The bronze medal went to first year senior Wesley Chiu (232.04) by a very slim margin over Joseph Phan (231.50).
At the end of the evening, Messing reflected on his triumph, which placed him on the Canadian Olympic team for a second consecutive time. He is one of six skaters (along with Piper Gilles, Paul Poirier, Eric Radford, Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro) who were part of the star squad in 2018 in PyeongChang, South Korea, where Canada fielded May -to be his strongest team ever at a Winter Games.
There was a lot of drama at the 2018 nationals in Vancouver with Olympic team spots on the line, and Messing felt it again over the weekend in Ottawa.
“I had forgotten what it was like to go out on the ice in Olympic qualifying. Oh man, that’s another ball game out there. To go out and skate and have a good performance, it was amazing, ”said Messing, who admitted to having“ an internal panic attack ”before running his long program.
“But with 19 years of nationals, your body knows what to do. I just went there and did my job. The amount of butterflies in my stomach before, it just turned into positive vibes. It’s incredible.”
Messing’s mother, Sally, had been in the building for all of his previous national championship appearances in Canada and the United States (Messing has dual citizenship and began representing Canada in 2014). With this year’s championships being held in an empty arena due to COVID-19 restrictions, he had to find another way to involve his mom and dad, Bob, in his celebration. Modern technology did the trick, with Messing giving Elladj Baldé his phone to bring his parents into the arena virtually to watch the medal ceremony via FaceTime.
“This is probably what I cried the most about it all, having my mom and dad with me,” he said. “With the lack of crowds, the lack of people here, it certainly weren’t the same Canadians we always remember. Having my parents right there with me… it was a flood of emotions, it was beautiful.
The excitement continued to his hotel room, where his wife and son were waiting to celebrate the moment with him. “It’s my first national title… I almost can’t put it into words (what I feel). It’s a surreal feeling. I’m just over the moon and have my family here to celebrate so I’m just overjoyed. I was up after 2:30 in the morning because I was so excited. And the excitement is still there today, ”he said the next day after being officially named to Canada’s squad for Beijing.
Messing celebrates his 30th birthday on Jan. 23 and admits it’s “a very real possibility” that he made his last appearance at the Canadian Championships. But he is not ready to completely close the door to this idea. “I have in mind that I want to do 20 national championships and I want to make the World Team Trophy next year. But I’m starting to get a little older and depending on what happens the rest of the season, it’s all over the place. air, ”he said.
“I might have one more in me, but we’ll leave that to another day to decide. “
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