This week is a quick recap of our trip to Montreal to see the World Figure Skating Championships. It was cancelled 4 years ago due to the pandemic. Fortunately, 2024 was much better timing for me and my sister. I’m not going to go into a lot of detail because not everyone is a skating fan. I’ll just give you the highlights.

Pairs

Deanna Stellato-Dudek and Maxime Deschamps won the Gold in Pairs for Canada. Deanna is a 40 year old American who returned to skating after a 16 year hiatus. You probably heard about it. It was all they could talk about leading up to and during the competition. I admire her athleticism, drive, and determination. You could just tell by her game face, she was going to make it happen.

Who you probably didn’t hear about were the silver medalists, the Japanese pair who train in Canada, Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara. Ryuichi collapsed right after the kiss & cry and had to be rushed to the hospital in an ambulance. Apparently, it was some sort of respiratory attack. Happy to report he’s fine. And they even had the Pairs medal ceremony right after the Men’s on Saturday night so we got to see it. Lovely to see the 3 teams find their respective flags in the audience and skate around and take photos together.

Our trip to Montreal by Colleen Kanna, Photo of the Pairs medalists from Canada (Gold), Japan (Silver) and Germany (Bronze).

Pairs: Canada (Gold), Japan (Silver), Germany (Bronze)

Women

In women’s, Kaori Sakamoto from Japan came from 4th place after the short and won the freeskate and the Gold Medal for the 3rd time in a row. She goes down in history as a three-peater, not done since Peggy Flemming in 1968. I love Kaori and her skating. She doesn’t have a triple axel, but her double axel is amazing. The speed, height, ice coverage, and flow-out she gets is unmatched. I’m so happy I got to see her skate in-person. Another highlight was Amber Glenn from the U.S. landing 2 clean triple axels, one in the warm up and one in her long program. Madeline Schizas from Canada finished in 18th place.

Ice Dance

For me, dance was the highlight of the competition and I’m not a huge dance fan. Although I have come to appreciate the level of skill involved…like wow…how do they make it look so effortless? Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier of Canada were naturally the favourites going into the competition. They were 3rd after the Rhythm Dance and 1st in the Free Dance which captured them the Silver Medal. In dance, there is typically very little movement and the scores are tight. All the top teams skated flawlessly. At the end of the day, Madison Chock and Evan Bates of the U.S. won the Gold and the Italian team of Charlene Guignard and Marco Fabbri took home the bronze. In my humble opinion, and I love the Canadian team, I thought the judging was spot on. And we had 3 Canadian teams in the top 10.

Our trip to Montreal by Colleen Kanna, Photo of medalists in Ice Dance.

Ice Dance: US (Gold), Canada (Silver), Italy (Bronze)

Men

The Men’s competition is always the big draw with their quadruple jumps. It was a packed house on Saturday night. The skating was not spectacular. I find a lot of the time, when a few skaters skate poorly, it affects the whole group. It was like all the energy got sucked out of the building. But, there were still some fantastic, history making moments.

Adam Siao Him Fa of France rose from 19th place after a disastrous short program to a Bronze Medal. He occupied the #1 competitor seat for almost the entire competition. They say you can’t win with the short but you can lose it, meaning if you don’t place within grasping distance of the podium, then you’re done. But Adam proved them wrong making history for the biggest leap in placement. Obviously, he had an amazing long program with 4 quads and 1 illegal element, the back flip, which cost him 2 points. He probably thought, “what the hell, this is for the audience”, never thinking he had the slightest chance of making the podium. At the end of the day, it didn’t make a difference.

Yuma Kagiyama from Japan, one of my favourite skaters, took the Silver. Every move in his program is choreographed perfectly with the music including his quad jumps. I love how cute and humble he is and that he’s coached by his father.

The hero of the evening and Gold Medal winner, is the Quad God, Ilia Malinin of the U.S. He’s not one of my favourite skaters but his athleticism is out of this world. He successfully completed 6 quadruple jumps including the 4 axel. The first and only man to do it in competition. It was incredible. He jumps so high and rotates so fast, I couldn’t tell a quad from a triple. But because it was Ilia, I correctly assumed they were mostly quads.

Photo of the medalists in the Men's competition: US (Gold), Japan (Silver), France (Bronze).

Men: US (Gold), Japan (Silver), France (Bronze)

Our Canadian men finished 17th and 19th. For a list of all the competitors and their results, check out ISU Results.

The experience

I thoroughly enjoyed being there. Not just the skating, but being part of the audience. Being part of the experience. I am proud to be Canadian. Canadians are unapologetically the loudest and best skating fans. We cheer on everyone, no matter their nationality, gender, skill level, or which country they represent. We clap to the music, we clap when a competitor successfully completes a jump, and we clap when a competitor falls to encourage them to keep going. Many of the competitors talked about how great the audience was. They drew energy from the crowd and it spurred them on. There were many standing ovations. A few times, I looked around and was so grateful to be there in the moment and sharing the thrill of it all with other passionate skating fans.

The whole weekend was great. We even got upgraded to a bigger suite style room when we arrived early to check in.

Our trip to Montreal by Colleen Kanna, Photo of our room at Hotel Europa.

Our upgraded room at Hotel Europa

The arena

The only downside, and this is at any sporting event at an arena, is the food and the washrooms. A note to event planners is “know your audience”. Figure skating fans are mostly women and mostly over the age of 40. We don’t eat junk food. They learned this after a couple of days and brought in some prepared salads at a snack kiosk at $24 per salad. Of course, you’re not allowed to bring in your own food or snacks or drinks. And there’s typically not enough time between events to go out and eat. And even if you do, hundreds of other people are doing the same thing.

After a few days, they also learned to convert a men’s washroom to a women’s. Thank you very much. You can probably count on one hand, the number of men that attend a figure skating competition as spectators. And btw, why are there no sinks to wash your hands in the men’s washroom? Like ewww!!! I suspected men don’t wash their hands and now I know it for a fact. Thankfully, there was at least a hand sanitizer station outside.

Also, a note for non-skating fans, you never enter the arena to find your seat while a competitor is skating. It’s considered disruptive. You stand at the top of the stairs and patiently wait until their program is over.

The train

We took the train to and from Montreal. I’d forgotten how much I like travelling on the train. It brought me back to the days when the kids were young. We adoptive families would take our kids on a trip to Montreal every summer. Such fond memories.

Now it seems to me the seats have gotten closer together just like on an airplane. Is that my imagination? And didn’t there used to be a fold down foot rest for your feet? Or was that on the Greyhound bus? Anyway, it was a very relaxing and enjoyable ride. The train was on time both ways.

View out the window on our train ride from Montreal with a cup of tea on the tray table.

Relaxing train ride

The only downside was the parking. I paid for our parking at one of the kiosks inside the station. When we got outside and pulled up to the gate, I inserted my ticket and nothing. The gate would not go up and the screen which was very hard to see, said I still owed the $60 parking fee. I pressed the button for help, got a person who was no help, and then they disappeared. Meanwhile there’s a line up of cars behind me. Finally, a man got out of his car, asked me if I had a receipt which I did. He informed me that he was in a hurry and held up the gate so I could drive through. Thank you sir!

So that’s it. Our adventure to the World Figure Skating Championships. I’m so happy we got to see a Worlds in-person before the Russians are allowed back into competition. It gives the smaller countries an opportunity to participate, you get to see more skating skills and great choreography as opposed to just jumping, and there’s way less drama.

Next on my bucket list is going to an Olympics…

Until next time,

~ Colleen

Colleen Kanna, Photo by Anna Epp Photography

I’m a recovering Chartered Accountant and Breast Cancer Champion turned Fashion Designer. My COKANNA Canadian-made bamboo clothing is all about comfort and style. Giving back to the community is important to me so I support local breast cancer organizations who treat the whole person and not just the disease.