Two Canadian pairs out of Four Continents

New national champs Langlois, Hay withdraw

Anabelle Langlois and Cody Hay will be unable to compete at the Four Continents Championships.
Anabelle Langlois and Cody Hay will be unable to compete at the Four Continents Championships. (Getty Images)


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By Laurie Nealin, special to
(02/09/2008) - Canada's newly crowned national pairs champions Anabelle Langlois and Cody Hay and bronze medalists Meagan Duhamel and Craig Buntin have canceled their plans to compete next week at the 2008 Four Continents Championships in South Korea.

Langlois has been suffering severe abdominal pain for a week. Initially, it was thought she might have injured her ribs, but now a kidney or gall stone is suspected. The pair's withdrawal was officially announced Friday as Langlois was undergoing an ultra-sound test to determine the cause of her ailment.

"We've got time until worlds, so barring something really bizarre, she should definitely be OK. That's definitely our goal," said the couple's coach, Lee Barkell, who nonetheless heads to Korea Saturday as co-coach of three-time Canadian champ Jeffrey Buttle.

"Obviously not being on the ice, and with the travel, and she's still in considerable pain, it's not in their best interest to go over [to Korea]," Barkell noted.

Buntin, meanwhile, further tore a previously damaged tendon and the rotator cuff in his shoulder when the timing of a lift went awry in the exhibition gala at the Canadian championships on January 20. He has been unable to train the lifts since then, although the couple continues to practice the throws, death spirals, and individual jumps, as well as run through their programs -- minus the lifts -- each day.

"I need surgery to stitch the rotator cuff and labral tendon back together... but the doctors think I can strengthen all the other muscles around my shoulder to support it and get the surgery after worlds," said Buntin, who paired with Duhamel late last summer.

"In the meantime, there's so many things we needed to fix anyway. We've been working on our footwork, our spins, spirals. It [the injury] hasn't been that horrible a thing because the little problems that might not have been fixed otherwise are getting done now," added Buntin, who won three Canadian titles with his previous partner, Valerie Marcoux.

Buntin has had a partially torn tendon in his shoulder since 2005 but has continued to put off surgery because of the five- to six-month recovery time. Instead, he just puts up with the pain.

"We're doing everything except the lifts, and we've now started to do one or two lifts a day. Five weeks out of worlds to even be able to do one or two is a good sign. There should be full-out training within a few weeks," Buntin predicted.

Last season, Buntin and Marcoux were sixth at the world championships, while Langlois and Hay ranked 10th.

Former Canadian champions Jessica Dubé and Bryce Davison had declined Skate Canada's invitation to compete in Korea, preferring to focus on preparations for the world championships. It was a year ago at the Four Continents event in Colorado Springs, Colo., that Davison's skate blade slashed Dubé's cheek and nose when they got too close in a camel spin.

Like the new U.S. pairs champions, Keauna McLaughlin and Rockne Brubaker, Canada's fourth- and fifth-ranked couples do not meet the age-eligibility requirements for ISU Championships, because the girls are too young.

That means Canada will be represented in Korea by pairs that finished sixth and seventh at the 2008 nationals -- Jessica Miller and Ian Moram and Mylène Brodeur and John Mattatall. Miller and Moram were surprise bronze medalists at the Grand Prix in China this season.

For various reasons, including the late withdrawals and travel challenges, Canada will not send a third pair to the event.

"We just ran out of [pairs] people and ran out of time," said Skate Canada's high-performance director Michael Slipchuk.

Three countries -- China, the U.S., and Canada -- will dominate the small pairs field at Four Continents. Of the nine couples entered, eight come from those nations. The ninth couple represents Uzbekistan.