Last Wednesday at the National Skating Championships in Halifax, Whitehorse’s Bryn Hoffman and Alberta skating partner Bryce Chudak landed a spot on the podium – and on the junior worlds team.
With a silver medal performance last week, Hoffman and Chudak have been selected to represent Canada at the 2016 ISU Junior World Figure Skating Championships, Skate Canada announced on Sunday.
“Obviously we were super excited when we got the email,” said Hoffman. “We had a pretty good idea we were going to go because there are only three international junior Canadian pairs teams this year and there are three spots.
“But to actually see it on paper and on the Skate Canada website was pretty exciting.”
The junior worlds will take place March 14-20 in Debrecen, Hungary. Hoffman will be Yukon’s second skater to compete at the championship. Whitehorse’s Matthew Powers competed at the 1991 junior worlds in male singles, coincidently also in Hungary – but in Budapest.
“We’re going to have a meeting with our coaches early next week and I’m sure we’re going to set some goals – more specific placement goals and points goals,” said Hoffman. “In my mind one of the goals would be to have a triple twist with better grade of execution than we did at Canadians.
“The one we did at nationals was OK, but we did lose points because it was messy on the ending.”
Last week’s nationals marked the first time Hoffman and Chudak completed a triple twist – in which Chudak throws Hoffman above his head and she rotates three times before being caught – in competition. It helped the pair score a personal best of 51.25 in their short program on Jan. 19.
“We were both super excited about that,” said Hoffman. “That was definitely one of the major highlights from nationals.”
Hoffman, 18, and Chudak, 20, placed second in both programs out of nine teams, scoring an 87.90 in the free Wednesday for a combined 139.15.
“It’s actually bitter-sweet,” Hoffman said last week. “We’re really happy to have placed well and won a silver, obviously. It feels amazing. But in our long program we didn’t skate as well as we could have and we did make some mistakes.”
The pair finished about 15 points behind gold medalists Hope McLean and Trennt Michaud of Ontario, who were also named to the junior worlds team on Sunday. Also named was the Quebec team of Justine Brasseur and Mathieu Ostiguy, who placed fourth last week.
Hungary won’t be the first time they skate for Canada at an international competition. The two placed fourth at ISU Junior Grand Prix competitions in Colorado and Poland so far this season.
With Halifax, Yukon skaters have now won medals two years in a row at nationals. Whitehorse’s Rachel Pettitt captured Yukon’s first-ever gold at last year’s championship in novice women.
Pettitt placed sixth out of 18 skaters in junior women on Thursday.
“I’m really very pleased with how I finished for my first junior nationals,” said the 16-year-old. “I didn’t have the best free program, but I’m proud of finishing seventh in the free with not my best skate.
“I’m walking away proud and ready to train and be ready for the next one.”
Like Hoffman and Chudak, Pettitt notched a personal best in her short with a 48.87 for third place on Wednesday. She then placed seventh in the free with a 79.08 on Thursday for a combined score of 124.95, about five points from her personal best.
“I just did everything the best I could,” said Pettitt of her short. “I just performed very well, got all my jumps done, and just enjoyed it a lot.”
Pettitt, who skates for Yukon’s Arctic Edge Skating Club and trains in Kelowna, also won Yukon’s first-ever gold in figure skating at the 2015 Canada Winter Games.
Yukon athletes have had great success qualifying for junior world championships as of late. Yukon’s Nadia Moser is currently in Romania to compete for Canada at the IBU Youth/Junior World Biathlon Championships. Just last week Yukon Ski Team’s Natalie Hynes and Kendra Murray were named to Canada’s team bound for the FIS Nordic World Junior/U23 Ski Championships next month, also in Romania.
The Hoffman-Chudak team, who placed seventh at last year’s nationals, live and train in Calgary where Hoffman attends the University of Calgary.
“We get this week off training, which is super nice – to get caught up on school and stuff,” said the Whitehorse-born Hoffman. “Next week we’re right back at it.”
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