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Year in Canadian skating filled with big surprises

Dube-Davison, Weaver-Poje, Chan grab headlines

Patrick Chan, 16, proved he belonged with the big boys by landing on two senior Grand Prix podiums.
Patrick Chan, 16, proved he belonged with the big boys by landing on two senior Grand Prix podiums. (Getty Images)

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By Laurie Nealin, special to icenetwork.com
(12/24/2007) - Courageous comebacks. A star ascending. And a couple of big, big surprises. Canadian skating fans experienced all of that and more in 2007, thanks to five skaters for whom the last 12 months have been anything but ordinary.

Anyone who saw the terrifying accident that Jessica Dube, 19, and Bryce Davison, 21, suffered at the Four Continents Championship in Colorado will long remember the horrible image as his skate blade slashed her face and she instantly collapsed onto the ice.

Even when medical reports indicated her recovery would be relatively quick and complete — save for the fading scar on her cheek — some wondered whether the pair's season would be cut short, whether the psychological trauma would take its toll. But the star-crossed pair wasted no time in getting back on the ice, intent on putting the horrific accident behind them.

In their four years together, the determined duo had never encountered a roadblock — be it injury on the ice or in a car accident — that they couldn't overcome. The 2007 Canadian Championships in January had been the latest case in point.

Despite having been sidelined from competition the previous fall as Dube rehabbed from her second knee surgery in as many years, Dube and Davison claimed their first national title in January. In March, just four weeks after the catastrophe in Colorado, they headed to Tokyo, determined to rise to the occasion once again. Their seventh-place finish there was as good as gold and solidified their reputation as courageous comeback kids.

Out of the blue, virtually-unknown and newly-paired ice dancers Kaitlyn Weaver (an American import) and Andrew Poje made major waves at home and abroad in 2007.

Together mere months and fresh off the junior Grand Prix circuit, teenagers Weaver and Poje snatched the bronze medal at the Canadian Championships. In their wake were several surprised veteran couples who subsequently retired or split. That shocking but commendably fair result spawned the equally surprising announcement that the rookies had been named to both the junior and senior world teams.

At the juniors, they snagged bronze. On the senior stage, where they were without pedigree, a 20th-place result was perhaps inevitable despite the new judging system's promises to the contrary.

In the fall of 2007, Patrick Chan arrived. The 16-year-old, who claimed the world junior silver last March, proved he belonged with the big boys by landing on two senior Grand Prix podiums and finishing a respectable fifth at the star-laden Grand Prix Final. He was the only Canadian man to make the top-six cut.

Chan skates with a maturity, an elegance and effortless glide that belie his youth. His work ethic, steely focus and competitive toughness are reminiscent of a young Elvis Stojko. And, like Stojko in the past, Chan's continued acceleration heading into the 2010 Olympic Games, should soon see him tagged, if he hasn't been already, as a medal hope for Canada in Vancouver.