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Skaters off to European grand prix
A pair of Connaught figure skating champions are jetting off to Europe to match skills with the best in the world.
Mitchell Gordon and Larkyn Austman are two of Canada’s rising stars and both recent winners of Canadian singles titles. Gordon—who won the men’s title in 2012 in Moncton, N.B—is set to compete in the International Skating Union Junior Grand Prix Czech Skate Oct. 2 to 6 while Austman—who earned the ladies’ championship in Mississauga, Ont. in 2013—is entered in the Junior Grand Prix Tallinn Cup Oct. 9 to 13.
Both skaters were slowed by injuries during the summer, but appear to be back on track. And Connaught director of skating programs Keegan Murphy, who coaches both skaters, expects they’ll perform well.
Gordon, 17, has made significant steps to raise his performance level and interaction with the audience, says Murphy.
“These are the qualities that begin to separate a junior competitor from a senior competitor,” he says. “But this is a season for him to grow. There is no pressure to capture any particular championship, only to develop into a more mature competitor.”
Also coached by Eileen Murphy, Gordon is one of nine Canadian skaters slated to compete in Ostrava at the second-to-last junior grand prix of the season. Last season he competed in two events placing eighth in Linz, Austria and 12th at Zagreb, Croatia.
Seventh at the Canadian championships in 2013, competing as a senior, and 16th at the world junior championships, Gordon isn’t as concerned with his placing as he is about his performance. But he’s learned to take nothing for granted.
“I’ve gone to a couple of grand prix events now and the thing you learn quickly is to expect the unexpected,” he says.
Also coached by her mom Heather, Austman, 15, is only beginning to tap her enormous potential. Next week’s competition in Estonia will be her first junior grand prix.
“Larkyn engages the audience beyond her young years and brings a level of power that rivals the best female skaters in all of Canada,” says Keegan Murphy.
He adds her competitive instinct is her greatest strength.
In her second year skating with Connaught, Austman acknowledges she’s a bit nervous but looking forward to the challenge.
“To represent Canada on the international stage is a (pinnacle) in any athlete’s life,” adds Keegan Murphy. “It is well deserved and a huge representation of their competitive development in Richmond and a testament of their hard work of the athletes on the ice.”
The next major event for Gordon and Austman will be the provincial championships, which Connaught is hosting, Nov. 8 to 11 at Minoru Arenas.
•Several skaters from the Richmond-based club will compete in the interprovincial SaskSkate Oct. 4 to 6 in Regina. They are: Haleigha Bulls, Monsie Godinez, Danielle Gordon, Phoebe Wang, Mary-Jo Yun and Martin Yushko.