Whitehorse’s Bryn Hoffman and Albertan skating partner Bryce Chudak plan to return next season stronger than ever.
The skaters placed seventh out of 10 teams in junior pairs at the 2015 National Skating Championships in Kingston, Ont., on Wednesday.
“Obviously, we were hoping for higher,” said Hoffman. “We didn’t skate our best in either of the programs and we lost a lot of levels in some places, so we’re a little disappointed. But it was my first nationals and our first nationals as a team, so we’re OK with it and now we’re more motivated to work harder during the off season and get ready for next year.”
Hoffman and Chudak missed last year’s nationals because of injuries. Chudak, 19, dislocated his shoulder a couple weeks before the championships last year. They also missed a lot of last season when Hoffman, 17, suffered a concussion while attempting the extremely difficult triple-throw.
Before this week they had never landed one in competition, but they did it twice in Kingston.
“This is the first competition that I landed a throw-triple,” said Hoffman. “I tried it at (Skate Canada) Challenge for the first time, but I fell in both the short and the long. In this competition I stood up on both of them, in the short and the long, so that’s one thing that did go well.”
Hoffman and Chudak, who have trained together the last two years at the National Pairs Training Centre in Calgary, were representing the Alberta/N.W.T./Nunavut section at this week’s nationals.
They placed seventh in the short program with a score of 39.07 on Tuesday and then eighth in the long with 67.21 on Wednesday, finishing with a combined score of 106.28.
“We have been getting feedback before (nationals) that, since we are such a new team, we didn’t look like we had that team aspect or that connection on the ice,” said Hoffman. “So our goal heading into this was we wanted to give the impression that we are a team and have more chemistry on the ice. I think we accomplished that. Our coach said we looked a lot better and we got feedback from judges that that improved a lot.”
Their seventh-place finish came a day after Whitehorse’s Rachel Pettitt made history at the championships.
The 15-year-old became Yukon’s first-ever national figure skating champ by winning gold in novice ladies.
“I feel awesome! It still doesn’t feel real,” said Pettitt on Tuesday. “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 gold with a personal best combined score of 112.87. She clinched the title with a score of 75.87 in Tuesday evening’s free program – another personal best.
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.
Hoffman hoped to compete in singles as well at nationals, but didn’t qualify at December’s Skate Canada Challenge where she and Chudak took fifth in pairs.
She plans to continue competing in both singles and pairs next season.
“(Nationals) was a really cool experience. It’s got a completely different atmosphere than Challenge or sectionals or even the Canada Games,” said Hoffman, who compete for Yukon at the 2011 Canada Games. “It feels more official and there’s all the senior skaters running around and it’s really exciting to see all of them. I had fun. It’s really motivational to be here.”
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