This week—March 18 to 24—the 2019 World Figure Skating Championships will be held in Saitama, Japan. Outside of the Olympics, this is the greatest prize in the sport, so you can expect a who's who of blades on ice.
Quad jump powerhouse American Nathan Chen? Yep. Twin home soil terrors, Japan's Shoma Uno and Yuzuru Hanyu? For sure. The unstoppable Russian human magic tricks that are Alina Zagitova and Evgenia Medvedeva? Yes, indeed.
In short, this week will be full of world-famous skaters who have all earned reputations for stunning displays of grace and power. But if you're a fan of Canadian skating, this championship is noticeable for a different reason: its absences.
Changing of the guard
For years, names like Patrick Chan, Meaghan Duhamel, Eric Radford, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir have been Canadian figure skating, winning multiple world titles between them. Another top competitor, Katelyn Osmond is the defending champion of the women's singles title, having won the Worlds in 2018. When these four skaters led Canada's figure skating team into PyeongChang for last year's Winter Olympics, experts called it Canada's greatest-ever Olympic figure skating squad. (And they won the team category gold medal to back that up!)
But now it's 2019. Chan has retired. So have Duhamel and Radford. Virtue and Moir are busying putting together a tour for audiences across Canada. And Osmond is taking the entire season off. This means that it is up to a whole new collection of talent to carry the flag into Saitama.
Like pairs skaters Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro.
Ice dancers Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje.
Men's singles skater Keegan Messing...
...and women's singles skater Gabrielle Daleman.
Are they up to the task?
Show us what you've got!
If you follow the sport, none of those names will be news to you. In fact, Daleman's terrific skate in the Olympics team event helped Canada capture that gold medal! The big difference now? None of these skaters will have these mentors around to lead the charge. But hey, Patrick Chan was once the young guy, peaking from behind the shadows of Elvis Stojko. Will this be the moment when a new figure skating star is born?
The competition will be stiffer than ever, but anything can happen on the ice!