Bourne and Kraatz in perfect formBy BEVERLEY SMITH From Monday's Globe and Mail Sunday, January 12, 2003 The Canadians won the national ice dancing title for the 10th time, picking up nine 6.0 scores from the judges, reports Beverley Smith
Shae-Lynn Bourne and Victor Kraatz, Canada's marquee ice dancers, say they're not big on splashy farewells and goodbye ceremonies. They came to their final Canadian figure skating championships last week to skate, to show off their programs for the first time this season, and to prepare for a last kick at getting a world gold medal.
But the Canadian judges gave the couple a huge sendoff, showering them with nine perfect marks of 6.0 for presentation after the free dance yesterday at Saskatchewan Place. As soon as the numbers popped up on a screen, Kraatz sprang out of his seat, throwing his arms to the heavens. Earlier this week, the couple received five perfect marks for their original dance.
"That was cool," Bourne said. "I don't think we've ever had them straight across. That was awesome. That's a huge confidence builder preparing for worlds."
For Bourne and Kraatz, who have said they are leaving Olympic-eligible competition, it was their 10th Canadian championship. They also won a national title as juniors in 1992.
Not everybody was pleased to see them stick around for another year. Marie-France Dubreuil and Patrice Lauzon of Boisbriand, Que., finished second to them for the third time yesterday. They won a national title in 2000 when Bourne and Kraatz withdrew because of injury. Yesterday, Dubreuil did not skate in the exhibitions because of a back problem.
"If they stay until the Olympics, they're killing us and everybody under them," Lauzon said, adding that Bourne and Kraatz should retire after the world championships in Washington, March 24 to 30. If they don't, Lauzon said, they'd better stay until the next Olympics, because nobody else will have a chance to emerge on the world level.
"If they stay, it would be so hard for Canadians because you will never see two Canadians in the top five or in the top three at the worlds," Dubreuil said.
Megan Wing and Aaron Lowe of Vancouver were third with a charming routine to a medley of John Lennon music.
Partly because of Bourne and Kraatz's silver-medal win at the world championships last March in Nagano, Canada will be able to send three teams to Washington. Wing and Lowe have been in the shadow of other ice dancers for years. They have been at one previous world championships, three years ago. This year, they are skating as if they deserve the spot.
Their original dance was difficult and their free dance was pleasing. Their choreographer, Marina Zoueva, said their original dance is a world-class routine. Wing and Lowe have received many positive comments this season from judges.
"At our first [international]competition this season, somebody said that this is probably the most technically demanding free dance we've attempted," Lowe said. "In some respects it is, because of the transitions [between highlight moves] the emotions, more difficult twizzles and fast-paced footwork. We skate faster and we're risking things more." Wing said many people have noticed their improved speed this season.
The motivation is different for Bourne and Kraatz, who are skating to find their souls after years of disappointments and entanglements in judging scandals. They skate to Thomaso Giovanni Albinoni's Adagio and Bourne said she wears a red heart on her chest for a reason. "This music is very spiritual. I'm imitating an angel that is trying to help Victor find his soul. . . . We all have a soul. We just have to find it."