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Golden girl: Lacoste achieves long-standing goal

Phaneuf rallies to take silver, Osmond drops to third

Amélie Lacoste won her much-coveted first gold medal at the Canadian championships.
Amélie Lacoste won her much-coveted first gold medal at the Canadian championships. (Getty Images)

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By Lois Elfman, special to icenetwork.com
(01/22/2012) - Amélie Lacoste knows her free skate at the 2012 Canadian Figure Skating Championships in Moncton, New Brunswick, wasn't perfect, but her determination to fight to the end brought her the ladies gold medal. It was Lacoste's first trip to the top step of a national podium since she won the junior title in 2005.

"I achieved my goal," Lacoste, 23, told icenetwork.com in a telephone interview shortly after the medal ceremony. "It's a step closer to my real dream -- to go to Olympics. I told myself last year that in 2012 I'm going to win nationals, and I did it. I'm so proud of myself."

At press time, Lacoste did not yet know whether she would be named to the Canadian world team. She said she would be competing at the Four Continents Championships. Canada has just one ladies berth for the world championships, and it might go to two-time Canadian champion Cynthia Phaneuf, who took the silver medal thanks to finishing first in the free skate after coming in fourth in the short.

For Lacoste, a Canadian title is a great reward after years in skating. She's previously twice won bronze medals at the senior level (2009, '11), but the top step had been elusive. She said the experience of competing at the world championships last year (finishing 16th) pushed her to improve.

"It was a dream come true, for sure," she said. "Also, I realized a lot of stuff about myself. Since then, we've worked a lot with my choreographers and coaches to make little changes to be better and have better performances and better choreography also."

Julie Marcotte choreographed Lacoste's free skate. For the short program, Lacoste had the opportunity to work with Shae-Lynn Bourne for the first time.

"It was awesome because I always wanted to work with Shae-Lynn," Lacoste said. "She taught me a lot about skating -- to enjoy and perform. I learned so much about myself and skating in general because she's so passionate about skating. It made me see skating a different way than before."

Although she felt ready to compete at Skate Canada last October, Lacoste said nerves got the best of her. She felt stronger at the Rostelecom Cup. Then she focused on getting ready for the Canadian championships.

"I came back home and I worked very hard and focused on what I needed to work on and get better," she said. "At nationals, I just stayed in the moment and performed -- stayed focused until the end."

Her win has already boosted her confidence. When she returns to training, she will focus on consistency in her jumps. She said in practice she lands nine out of 10 jumps, and she's determined to translate that consistency to competition.

"It's a goal achieved," Lacoste said of her gold medal. "I always wanted that moment in my life since I was a little girl. I worked so hard on my jumps, my performance, my choreography and on everything to make it happen. Now I can enjoy it and relax. I think my next competition I'll be less nervous and more confident.

"I'm old enough to understand what it means," she continued. "It means many, many years of training. A couple of years of disappointment. A couple of years of being happy at some competitions. Everything makes it happen. I worked so hard. Now that it's happened, it tells me what I really want can happen. I can achieve everything. I can make everything real. I can reach my goal of the Olympics.

"It was a great day. We'll see what's next tomorrow."

The leader after the short program, Kaetlyn Osmond, won the bronze medal.