MISSISSAUGA, Ont. –
The last time Madeline Schizas competed in Mississauga, at the 2020 Canadian Championships, she was 16 years old. Few know her name.
On Friday, shortly after completing the best short-term program at Skate Canada International, Schizas marveled at how life had changed over the years.
“It’s strange to think about how different an experience is,” says Schizas. “I am really new to everything.
“I’m probably more excited about Piper’s (Gilles) being in the locker room that year, than I am about being a (national) bronze medalist,” she said with a laugh. “I thought, ‘Oh, wow, this is great, I guess.”
The Oakville, Ont. skater, now 19, arrived at this week’s Grand Prix event as the top Canadian after making a statement during the team event at the Beijing Olympics.
And she brought 67.90 points to her show with the “Black Swan” soundtrack.
“It was just a completely different experience,” Schizas said. “It’s a bit crazy to me to think that it wasn’t that long ago, not even three years ago. And it’s exciting to be back in this building with another place in my career.”
Schizas landed three times on her “evil” show, which she said was a departure from her “like-seeking personality”. She’ll slide to the more upbeat “West Side Story” soundtrack on Saturday’s free show.
Canadian teammate Gabrielle Daleman is just 1.25 points behind in second place, in her first Grand Prix appearance since she finished 10th at Skate Canada in 2019.
Canada’s world bronze medalists Gilles and Paul Poirier were the leaders behind rhythmic dance, while Japan’s Kao Miura was the leader in men’s singles.
Schizas has grown in relative obscurity during the pandemic, with most skating competitions held virtual, live but without fans, or canceled altogether.
Her performance in the team event in Beijing was a revelation, and a huge reason why Canada finished fourth – and is still racing for bronze pending the outcome of the Russian doping scandal.
Schizas said soaring post-Beijing expectations took their toll earlier this season. A bad case of nerves landed her fifth at the recent Nebelhorn Trophy after a terrible 10th free show.
“That bad skater got a little lucky because I got home and I thought, well, we’re still orbiting the sun. It’s really not the end of the world to skate badly once,” she said. “So some of the pressure that I put on myself will lessen a bit.”
Schizas also recently moved to Hamilton, Ont., to study human behavior at McMaster University. Because of the pandemic, this is her first time in an in-person class since 11th grade.
Daleman, meanwhile, was ecstatic with her clean skate to Rhianna’s “Diamonds,” after a summer that included a laundry list of illnesses, including COVID-19, lacerations to the abdomen. , his back was injured in a car accident and Bell’s paralysis was diagnosed.
“It just shows how strong I am and how much I love the sport and that no one, no one, can hold me back or bring me down,” Daleman said.
The 24-year-old from Newmarket, Ont., was once one of Canada’s most promising young skaters, first competing in the Olympics in 2014 at the age of 16.
“I think it’s great because you have Gabby, who was a veteran… she’s coming back,” Gilles said. “And Maddie is finally hitting her element and feeling confident. So we’re proud to be a part of their team and support them every step of the way. It’s been an honor to watch Maddie. developed as an athlete and really stepped in on her own and as a leader. So we’re really excited for the two of them.”
American Ava Marie Ziegler came in third with 66.49.
Gilles and Poirier scored an individual best 87.23 with the rumba dance on their season debut.
“Especially coming out for the first time, there’s always those thrills, no one has seen the show yet, you don’t know how it will be received, if people will like it, if really the crowd will energize you,” says Poirier.
Gilles and Poirier, both 30, took six weeks off this past summer to think about their futures after the pandemic robbed them of any fun during the Beijing Olympic season.
“Really the goal for this season, especially for this first competition, is just to go out and compete with that joy of skating,” Poirier said. “And I think we really felt that between the two of us today, we felt a connection, we felt grounded and we felt our element.”
The UK’s Lilah Fear and Lewis Gibson came in second with second place in freestyle with 83.80, while Americans Caroline Green and Michael Parsons came in third (76.13).
Japan’s Miura scored 94.06 to beat compatriot and reigning world champion Shoma Uno (89.98) in the men’s short program. Italy’s Matteo Rizzo came in third (81.18).
Canada’s Keegan Messing was fourth (79.69) after a heavy fall in the quad toe-loop.
“Skating happens,” said Messing, who knew he was going to crash in mid-air. “It’s definitely a moment to just pull in to complete the spins and prepare for the inevitable impact that’s coming.”
Messing said he was a bit emotional before skating in the Skate Canada finale.
“I have to remind myself that this year I’m not skiing to compete,” said Messing, who will retire after this season. “This year was for me and I went out there and I just had fun. Yeah, dancing wasn’t there, but I gave it my all, I had fun with my footwork, I played with the crowd. And heavens. Oh, the crowd was right behind me in the courtyard.”
Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara of Japan are the pair leader. Canadian Brooke McIntosh – whose sister is swimming star Summer – and Benjamin Mimar came in fourth.
The free program is Saturday. The Grand Prix circuit culminates with the Finals in Turin, Italy in December.
This Canadian Press report was first published on October 28, 2022.