Fiona Bombardier, whose famous mom is Josee Chouinard, carving her own career

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OSHAWA, Ont. - Fiona Bombardier's grace and wide smile are reminiscent of her famous mom — even as Bombardier has worked to develop her own figure skating identity.

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OSHAWA, Ont. – Fiona Bombardier’s grace and wide smile are reminiscent of her famous mom — even as Bombardier has worked to develop her own figure skating identity.

And Bombardier only discovered by accident, well into her skating career, that her mom Josée Chouinard was once Canada’s best and a two-time Olympian.

“She didn’t even tell me until I was maybe like over 10 years old, I had no idea,” Bombardier said at the Canadian figure skating championships on Friday. “I was already skating, competing. I didn’t even hear it from her. I heard it from other skaters. And then I came home and it was, like, ‘What?! Why didn’t you ever tell me?'”

Madeline Schizas from Ontario performs during the senior women’s short program at the National Skating Championships in Oshawa, Ont., on Friday January 13, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

The 17-year-old from Newmarket, Ont., was third in the women’s short program on Friday, despite still being a junior competitor.

Madeline Schizas, an Olympian from Oakville, Ont., heads into Saturday’s free program in the lead, scoring 68.52 for her “Black Swan” program, despite a bobble on her triple loop.

Lia Pereira was second with 61.21 points. Later, she and partner Trennt Michaud were fourth in the pairs short program.

Deanna Stellato-Dudek, who’s been fighting a virus for nine weeks, and partner Maxime Deschamps, won the pairs short program (73.20).

Keegan Messing was the class of a sloppy men’s singles field, scoring 94.40 points to win the short program by more than eight points.

Skating a day before the due date of his second child, and in his final national championships — he plans to retire this off-season — the 30-year-old from Girdwood, Ak., was a bundle of emotions.

“This whole week has been a struggle,” Messing said. “The more the realization hits that ‘oh no, this is my final competition on Canadian soil’ . . . I’ve always tried to skate for the crowd and put on the best performance to entertain, and then to be trying to use this season to say goodbye, to have (the fans) right here and to be showing me this much love, there’s no words. I’m overjoyed.”

Montreal’s Laurence Fournier Beaudry and Nikolaj Soerensen scored 87.06 points to lead the short dance, which was missing world bronze medallists Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier. Gilles and Poirier captured their first Grand Prix Final title last month, but Gilles underwent an appendectomy recently.

Bombardier’s dad, Jean-Michel Bombardier, was a pairs skater for Canada. He and Chouinard were both in the audience Friday at Tribute Communities Centre. Fiona’s twin brother Noah skated until he grew out of a pair of skates when he was 12.

“That was the end of it,” Bombardier said of her brother. “He didn’t want to keep going.”

Bombardier said she’s barely even seen video of her mom competing. She recalled watching a YouTube clip of Chouinard at an Olympics — either Albertville (1992) or Lillehammer (’94), she didn’t know which.

Chouinard was a three-time Canadian champion, and finished fifth at two world championships. While Bombardier said her mom is an inspiration, she is carving her own career.

“She does not pressure me into skating. She just allows me to do what I love to do and she’s just there on the sidelines supporting me no matter what,” said Bombardier, who hopes to be a vet after she’s done skating.

“I created my own look. As I said, I didn’t watch many videos of her skating. And she doesn’t show me.”

The Canadian championships determine the team for the world championships in March in Saitama, Japan. Canada has one entry in women’s singles at worlds, which is Schizas’s to lose.

Keegan Messing smiles as he receives a standing ovation after performing during the senior men's short program at the Canadian figure skating championships in Oshawa, Ont., on Friday January 13, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Schizas, who was excellent in Canada’s fourth-place finish in the team event at the Beijing Olympics, said she was thrown off a bit Friday with having to skate last.

“Sometimes I struggle with that, just the wait,” Schizas said.

A Canadian title would be a first for Stellato-Dudek and Deschamps, who won bronze in their first national appearance together last year.

“I want it for Max so much, because . . . this is his 10th Canadian championship and last year I was so proud, I was the first partner he got a medal with in senior,” Stellato-Dudek said. “So, to be the partner that brings him the gold would be really special to me.”

The 39-year-old Stellato-Dudek said she’d tried everything to get rid of her virus — ginger, tea, garlic, oregano — but her voice was still squeaky on Friday.

“I sounded like Mickey Mouse out there with a microphone,” she said of the interview she did post-skate.

Should Pereira win a medal in both singles and pairs, she would be the first Canadian since Cynthia Coull in 1985 to do so.

Schizas trains with Pereira at the Milton Skating Club, and Schizas marvelled at how she competes in two events. Schizas also wanted to be a pairs skater when she started out, but she jumps clockwise, which is rare in skating, and there were no clockwise male skaters to team up with.

“I thought it would be super fun but my parents thought that watching me get tossed around would be far less fun. So when they couldn’t find me a partner I think they were a little relieved,” Schizas said.

Should Pereira win a medal in both singles and pairs, she would be the first Canadian since Cynthia Coull in 1985 to do so.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 13, 2023.

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