Skaters Evelyn Walsh and Trennt Michaud fight for an Olympic spot as a couple

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Evelyn Walsh and Trennt Michaud have spent most of their senior figure skating careers chasing veteran pair Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro.

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Now they have new challengers on their heels.

Eric Radford, two-time world champion and Olympic medalist with his former partner Meagan Duhamel, ended his retirement in the spring to team up with former French skater Vanessa James. They finished second on their recent debut at the International Fall Classic in Pierrefonds, Que., And are aiming for a couple berth for the Canadians at the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing in February.

There is room for three teams on the national podium, but only two for the trip to China.

“It inspires and motivates us,” said Londoner Walsh, 20. “Anyone can come back to a sport. It’s nothing against them. At the same time, we think we are able to win that Olympic spot and that’s what we’re aiming for this year. We’re not really backing down. .

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“On the contrary, it only motivated us to want this Olympic place (more).”

Michaud, 25, from Belleville, co-hosts the Ice Lab podcast with Marinaro and they recently had ice dancer Kaitlyn Weaver on the show. She and her partner Andrew Poje have always been world class in their discipline, but competed around the same time as all-time greats Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir.

“Speaking of Tessa and Scott’s comeback (ahead of the 2018 Olympics), she mentioned that her coach at the time said, ‘You can see it two ways,’” Michaud said. “‘You can let him define you or you can take him up and challenge him.’

“It’s the way we look (the James-Radford team). We’re going to be the best we can be because we want one of these spots and we’ll do everything we can to make it ours. ”

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Since the Stockholm Worlds last spring, they have developed two new programs. The short, set to Lost Without You by English singer Freya Ridings, was choreographed by their Brantford-based trainer Alison Purkiss, formerly of Strathroy and London.

The long program, skated to John Mayer’s Dreaming With a Broken Heart, was orchestrated by Carol Lane, who currently coaches top Canadian ice dancers Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier.

“The short was more of Trent and I’s choice,” Walsh said. “We loved the music and connected to the lyrics. We let the lyrics tell this story.

In the free skate, Walsh – dressed in light blue fading to white – plays a ghost in the background while Michaud dreams of her. They continued to work with Virtue-Moir’s first trainer, Paul MacIntosh, to refine their steps.

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“I think we’ve learned a lot and paid attention to the little details, which is what we need in an Olympic year,” said Walsh. “Now that we have the ice dancing side, that takes away a typical look. We always want to do something different, but also comfortable, this year.

Walsh and Michaud were planning to skate at the Fall Classic, but were stunned by a Walsh lung infection that required two rounds of antibiotics. They kicked off their programs at Skate Canada’s high performance camp last month in Mississauga and will begin their competitive season at Skate America October 22-24 in Las Vegas.

“We got a lot of feedback from the judges and appellants in Mississauga,” said Walsh, “and we were happy with the way we skated. Injuries and illnesses happen and you have to bounce back through them. I don’t think we think (missing the opening event) is a setback. We didn’t have to rush back and we didn’t want it to turn into more than a disease and turn into an injury.

They aim to peak at the national championships in Ottawa in January, a month before the Olympics. If things go well there, the 2020 national silver medalists will have earned the trip to China.

“We are one of the youngest teams on the circuit,” said Michaud.

“We’re trying to show that our skating skills are up to theirs or better and that’s the main thing. When our skating skills are better, our performance, speed, power and tricks are better. It starts from there and we’re really excited about this season. “

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