News & Updates   Dakota In The News

Good Things Come In Pairs

Click here to read article from the original source (Winnipeg Free Press)


WINNIPEG pair skaters Ava Kemp and Yohnatan (Yoni) Elizarov will be back in the game at this week’s Canadian figure skating championships, despite losing nearly a month of training time while Kemp recovered from a severe left ankle sprain.

The junior competitors will be at the Tribute Communities Centre in Oshawa, Ont., vying for their second consecutive national podium finish after winning gold in the novice category in 2022.

Success would almost certainly mean Kemp, 14, and Elizarov, 19, will be assigned to compete for Canada at the world junior championships in Calgary, considering they ranked fifth among the world’s top junior pairs this fall with impressive showings in international competition.

Plus, Canada has three berths for junior pairs and only three couples currently eligible to fill them.

While the global event in late February is definitely on their radar, coach Kevin Dawe preferred to keep the focus on the present ahead of their departure for Ontario.

“Ava’s probably about 85 per cent recovered. She’s back doing all her elements that she was before. We’re just trying to get everything back in the program and do what we can for nationals,” said Dawe, noting more time to do more program run-throughs before the championships would have helped.

“We’re just taking it one step at a time. We want to get back into competition mode, have a positive experience, keep building and progressing.”

Kemp is still experiencing a little pain on the left foot take-offs for her individual and throw jumps, limiting the number of repetitions she can do in practice.

“A lot of that’s due to muscle endurance and strength, getting that back and the fast twitch motion happening again with that ankle,” Dawe explained.

Now, with about 10 days of near normal training under their belts, Kemp and Elizarov intend to attempt their new element — the triple twist lift — for the first time in competition in their short program opener on Tuesday.

Also Tuesday, Dauphin’s Breken Brezden will make her national championship debut in the junior women’s event.

A top-five finish is within her grasp if she can land her newly mastered triple-triple jump combination in the short program and nail her triple jump landings in the free skate. Some of those jumps eluded her at the national qualifier in Winnipeg in early December where she ranked 10th among the 38 young women hoping to advance.

“If I’m feeling ambitious, top five would be awesome. This competition, I need to focus on myself and my personal results instead of worrying about everyone else. I’d just like to improve from what I did last time,” Brezden said.

“It’s definitely my most important competition, but it’s also something I really want to take in and experience because at Challenge I felt pressure from myself to make it to Canadians. Now that that job’s been done, I want to do my best, and do my best to have fun.”

Training in Ontario for seven months now, Brezden, 17, has made significant progress on more technically difficult jumps and spins. She’s also upped her confidence level as a competitor.

“Being here gave Breken more opportunities to get to competitions and get the experience. That’s all this girl has lacked. She has not lacked the talent or motivation or work ethic; it’s the amount of hours she’s now (training) with other kids who are doing what she’s doing. All those things made the difference this year in qualifying for Canadians,” said Jen Jackson, who coaches Brezden in Hamilton.

“Her coach in Manitoba is a very good coach, obviously, having been to the Olympics. Patty (Hole) is still a part of everything Breken does, works with her when she’s home and will be at Canadians as well.”

For the past several years, Brezden had made five-hour return trips multiple times each week from her home in Dauphin to Virden to train with Hole. Last spring, she decided the time spent on the road would be better spent on the ice and school work.

Her decision to train in Hamilton has already paid dividends and, likely, there are more to come. Jackson considers it a real possibility that Brezden could soon get the nod to represent Canada in international competition.

Junior competitions conclude Wednesday, while senior events go Friday and Saturday.

Ava Kemp and Yohnatan Elizarov work on their routine in preparation for the Canadian figure skating championships.


Back to News List