Following the skate of her life, Whitehorse’s Rachel Pettitt sat in the kiss-and-cry area, waiting for her scores from the judges, absolutely beaming.
She knew she nailed it.
Pettitt gave a nearly flawless performance to win Yukon’s first-ever gold at the 2015 National Skating Championships in Kingston, Ont., on Tuesday.
“I feel awesome! It still doesn’t feel real,” said the newly minted national champ. “I just had my medal ceremony and it’s not even sinking in yet.
“I didn’t know that I was going to win, but I knew I was going to get a personal best. I skated my best and I pretty much knew I was going to podium, I just didn’t know what colour.”
Pettitt captured novice ladies gold with a personal best combined score of 112.87, beating Quebec skaters Alicia Pineault (109.63) in second and Justine Brasseur (109.05) in third.
She clinched the national title with a score of 75.87 in Tuesday evening’s free program – another personal best.
It couldn’t have come at a better time.
Pettitt went into the final segment in third place out of 18 skaters following Monday’s short program, posting a 37.00.
“It wasn’t my best,” said Pettitt. “I landed my first element, my triple toe-double toe, which was good. But I had a bit of a whoopsy on my triple sal: I didn’t land it and it was under rotated. So I didn’t even get one point for that, so I lost five points on that one element. But everything else went smoothly.”
Pettitt is now just the second Yukon skater to win a medal at the national championships, following Whitehorse’s Matthew Powers who won silver in junior men in 1991.
The 15-year-old seemed to separate herself from her competition just a few bars into her music from the film Doctor Zhivago on Tuesday, gliding over the ice with visibly more speed than her competitors.
She landed her triple toe-double toe, triple salchow, plus another triple and more doubles to end her performance. The one flaw was a little wobble coming off her third jump, a double axel-double toe.
“I kind of just go out there and skate for myself and not really think about the outcome or whatever else is happening,” said Pettitt. “It always seems the best whenever I don’t worry about anything else but just how I want to skate.”
Pettitt qualified for the nationals after winning silver at the Skate Canada Challenge in December, marking the best finish by a Yukoner at the event. She made Challenge with a silver at the B.C./Yukon Section Championships in November, simultaneously winning B.C. Skating’s season-long Pond to Podium Super Series.
Pettitt’s season isn’t done yet. She is set to represent Yukon at the Canada Winter Games next month in Prince George, B.C. She will be joined by Whitehorse’s Arctic Edge Skating Club teammate Mikayla Kramer at the Games.
Whitehorse’s Bryn Hoffman is also at the nationals this week, skating with Albertan partner Bryce Chudak in junior pairs. They finished their short program in seventh place and will perform their long program Wednesday afternoon.
“I just finished the medal ceremony,” added Pettitt in her late-night interview with the News. “It’ll be hard to sleep tonight.”
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