Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Virden has its share of Grand Prix pairs

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VIRDEN-BASED senior pairs competitors Paige Lawrence and Rudi Swiegers have snagged a plum senior ISU Grand Prix assignment to open their 2010-11 season.

The self-described Saskatobans, who grew up in Saskatchewan but now train primarily in this province with Manitoba coach Patti Hole, are one of three Canadian pairs assigned to Skate Canada International. The prestigious event, the second of six in the Grand Prix series, will be held in Kingston, Ont., at the end of October.

With solid performances, a medal is not out of the question for Lawrence, 20, and Swiegers, 23, who rank among the top five pairs in Canada. "We're really thrilled. We just want to be as trained as we possibly can going into it so we can hopefully put on a good show and build our confidence," Lawrence said.

Since their breakthrough 2007-08 season, the duo have established themselves as crowd favourites, thanks to their knack for creating and executing highly entertaining short programs. This season's offering, set to City Slickers, should keep that tradition going.

As usual, Lawrence and Swiegers spent three weeks in Florida this summer training with Hamiota's Lyndon Johnston, who capped his skating career with world pairs gold in 1990.

Virden will also be represented at the third senior Grand Prix event in China, as Kaleigh Hole, 17 (daughter of coach Hole), and her pairs partner Adam Johnson, 21, make their senior international debut in Beijing.

"It'll be nerve-wracking for sure, because it's a huge step from junior to senior, but it will be a lot of fun. We're the new ones, so we're going for experience," said Hole, noting they now have five triples in their program with the addition of a triple twist lift to their repertoire.

The couple, who train in Strathroy, Ont., posted amazing results on the junior Grand Prix circuit last year despite pairing up just months earlier. They claimed two medals, qualifying for the junior Grand Prix Final in Tokyo, where they finished fifth. After ranking seventh among senior company at the Canadian championships, they ranked 10th at the world juniors.

Hole and Johnston and Lawrence and Swiegers were back to business this week after a whirlwind national training camp in Toronto, where their programs were scrutinized by officials and feedback provided for fine-tuning. Interspersed with the on-ice workouts were media interviews and promotional photo and video shoots.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 17, 2010 C4

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