Now & Then with Debbi Wilkes

The following piece was written by Ontario Olympic Silver and World Bronze medallist, Debbi Wilkes. She offers insight into the sport while highlighting our Ontario pair team, Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro as they prepare for NHK Trophy.

Now & Then by Debbi Wilkes

Here we are deep into the competitive season and I’m struck by how fortunate our skaters are today with so many opportunities to rehearse, remodel and refine their programs throughout the season.

Getting those programs ready for prime time is a horse race. After Worlds, skaters, coaches and choreographers begin the task of finding music … what fits the style and interest of the skater … what story do they want to tell … how will this program make them distinctive. And then comes the choreography … that painstaking step-by-step mapping out of how to match intent, movement and elements with the music.

These steps were as important fifty years ago as they are today, yet fifty years ago no competitor had much official feedback until they stepped on the ice at the big events. It was like skating “blind”, hoping you had winning material but not really knowing for sure. There were no Invitationals, no Grand Prix, no Challenge Series or regular one-off events anywhere. You studied and worked just as hard as skaters do today but with few opportunities to show your program … and get valuable feedback … before game day.

For Skate Ontario’s pair team of Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro, it’s only November yet the team has already competed in and medaled at three international events, winning silver at Autumn Classic and at Finlandia and most recently winning bronze at Skate Canada International.

Skate Canada’s High Performance Director, Mike Slipchuk, emphasizes the vital role the early season has played for the team.

“With the coaches, we look at the best strategy for their athletes to prepare for the season ahead.  For Kirsten and Mike the plan was two Challenger events to help them fine tune their programs so they can maximize their points and deliver the best performances possible at the Grand Prix events.”

Skating programs are living things, constantly evolving and changing until they reach their final perfect version … not one step too few nor one too many, the ideal layout, the perfect showcase for a skater’s strongest talents and finally that last magical connection when the skaters, their movement and the music become one.

This weekend in Japan at NHK, Kirsten and Mike will be skating to perfect that final formula.

CBC Broadcast and Streaming Schedule for NHK this weekend:

Streaming Schedule – visit CBCsports.ca:

Fri Nov 9

12:20 AM ET Grand Prix of Japan – Pairs Short Program
2:10 AM ET Grand Prix of Japan – Ladies Short Program
5:00 AM ET Grand Prix of Japan – Men’s Short Program
10:45 PM ET Grand Prix of Japan – Ice Dance – Rhythm Dance

Sat Nov 10  

12:35 AM ET Grand Prix of Japan – Pairs Free Program
2:40 AM ET Grand Prix of Japan – Ladies Free Program
5:30 AM ET Grand Prix of Japan – Men’s Free Program
3:00 PM ET Road to the Olympic Games: Grand Prix of Japan – Men’s Free & Ladies Free Programs
9:45 PM ET Grand Prix of Japan – Ice Dance Free Dance

Sun Nov 11 

1:05 AM ET Grand Prix of Japan – Gala
2:00 PM ET Road to the Olympic Games: Grand Prix of Japan – Ice Dance Free Dance

CBC Broadcast Schedule: Championship Figure Skating – NHK Trophy

Sat Nov 10

3:00 PM ET Road to the Olympic Games: Grand Prix of Japan – Men’s Free &Ladies Free Programs

Sun Nov 11

3:00PM LOCAL TIME Road to the Olympic Games: Grand Prix of Japan – Ice Dance Free Dance

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