Training nets results

A year’s worth of hard work and intense training paid off for Tarrah Harvey and Keith Gagnon last week, as the Surrey pair finished fourth in junior ice dance at BMO Canadian Figure Skating Championships, held last week at Vancouver’s Pacific Coliseum.

The fourth-place finish was a marked improvement over 2007, when the duo placed 13th at nationals.

“We’re both extremely happy with how the whole week went,” Harvey said.

“Our training has been a lot more intense this year – we’re skating a lot more, and doing a lot of off-ice work – so we were a lot more confident heading into (nationals) this time.”

The pair was fifth in the compulsory skate – where all pairs skate the same routine – and were third in free dance and sixth in open dance.

At nationals last year – held in Halifax – Harvey and Gagnon struggled to an 11th place skate after the compulsory component, largely because the required routine didn’t fit their style. This time around, in front of a friendly hometown crowd, they had no trouble performing their best.

“We skated really well – it all went very smoothly,” Harvey said.

Cecylia Witkowski of North Delta placed seventh in the junior women’s category. A member of the Coquitlam Skating Club, the 16-year-old climbed up three places after placing 10th in the short program. Witkowski’s score in the free skate was fifth among the 23 skaters in the competition and tops among B.C./Yukon region skaters.

A third Surrey skater, Devon Neuls, also had an impressive showing at the Coliseum, placing 16th in the ladies free skate.

She was 15th in both the short and long programs.

Last year in Halifax, Neuls placed 12th.

By virtue of finishing in the top five, Harvey and Gagnon also secured themselves a spot on Canada’s national team, which means they’ll likely have a few more high-profile events on their skating calendar. Equally as important, they’ll also receiving funding for the first time.

“We’ll have some more international assignments, and the funding is really nice, too. Competing so much can get a little pricey,” Harvey said.

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