Pair skaters Kemp and Elizarov have world championships in sights

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The worlds await Ava Kemp and Yohnatan Elizarov, or so it would seem.

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The worlds await Ava Kemp and Yohnatan Elizarov, or so it would seem.

The Winnipeg pair skaters put in solid performances at the Canadian Figure Skating Championships this week and are all but guaranteed an opportunity to compete at the world championships next month in Calgary.

The junior duo finished second out of five pairs after Tuesday’s short program and Wednesday’s free skate. Canada has three berths in junior pairs for the Calgary worlds — so it’s a near certainty Elizarov, 19, and Kemp, just 14, will be there.

Ava Kemp and Yohnatan Elizarov finished second out of five pairs after Tuesday’s short program and Wednesday’s free skate at the Canadian Figure Skating Championships this week in Oshawa, Ont. (Ruth Bonneville / Winnipeg Free Press files)

The national championships continue with senior events later this week. Skate Canada won’t officially name its squad for the worlds until Monday at the earliest.

The Manitobans entered this week’s event in Oshawa, Ont., ranked fifth in the world after impressive showings at two international events last fall in Latvia and Poland.

They definitely caught the bug to battle the world’s best.

“It’s exciting to be on the international circuit and we’re really happy to get the scores we got here for worlds,” said Elizarov. “We were nervous with a new short program and it really came together. I think we’re more happy with that than the free.”

In junior women’s singles, Breken Brezden of Dauphin placed seventh out of 18 skaters as she made a terrific debut at the nationals.

The junior pair lost more than a month of training time while Kemp recovered from a severe left ankle sprain, and that showed during the free skate. They were right on the heels of Ontario pairs skaters Chloe Panett and Kieran Thrasher after a tremendous short program but finished 20 points behind after the long routine.

Some elements were purposely removed from the program Wednesday.

“I’m not fully healed… still trying to get my strength back to normal,” said Kemp. “We’ll get the difficulty back up to where we need it to be. It needs some work but we’ll get there.”

Just a week ago, Kemp was still experiencing discomfort on jumps, limiting the number of repetitions she could do in practice.

Their coach, Kevin Dawe, was thrilled with the outcome.

“Really happy with the short program. It’s new and technically the most difficult they have ever done. They received a personal best score (49.87),” he said. “We knew with her injuries and the time off, the long program would be more of a challenge. There were a few uncommon mistakes that cost them points. But there’s so much to look forward to.

“Getting Ava healthy… repetition of the routine, getting all the elements back into the routine. It’s exciting. They are very resilient. That’s the makeup of this pair. They tough it out.”

— Staff

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Updated on Wednesday, January 11, 2023 9:06 PM CST: Fixes typo in headline

Updated on Wednesday, January 11, 2023 10:15 PM CST: Adds newer photo

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