Coming off of the 2022 Beijing Olympics, some of the world’s top figure skaters are set to compete in Montpellier, France. Reigning Canadian pairs champions Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro withdrew from the competition. Reigning Canadian silver medalists Trennt Michaud and Evelyn Walsh are ready to step up and compete for Canada. Before his appearance in France, I had a chance to speak with Michaud about his season so far, the state of figure skating today, and his hopes for the future.
A post-Olympics World Figure Skating Championships may at first seem less exciting since many Olympians have either announced their retirement, or have withdrawn from the competition to recover. However, a post-Olympics Worlds is also an opportunity to showcase skaters who don’t typically get the spotlight. New champions and skaters to watch can emerge.
Michaud expressed optimism in his and Walsh’s season so far. “We’re always learning from out experiences” he said. He explained that he and Walsh have steadily improved their performances as the season has progressed. He expressed no bitterness at the decision to send Vanessa James and Eric Radford to Beijing when the team withdrew from the Canadian Figure Skating Championships following the short program. Instead, he spoke about the experience of medaling at this year’s Four Continents Championships and how much it meant to their team.
Following the fallout from the Russian doping scandal that cast a shadow over the Olympics, Michaud reflected on how it will impact the sport going forward. He says he isn’t opposed to exploring age limits on senior-level competitors, but said skaters and teams shouldn’t be penalized for pushing the technical envelope. He emphasized, however, “the sport needs to remain clean”. He was clear that any technical developments need to be completed by clean athletes to preserve the integrity of the sport.
Michaud also spoke about the challenges that continue to exist due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He expressed concern that pre-novice and novice skaters were among the athletes most impacted by the pandemic. In his perspective as a coach, he’s seen the youngest elite athletes leave the sport to pursue other interests when faced with lack of ice and coaching time. Ultimately, though, when reflecting on his own experience competing during the pandemic, Michaud concluded, “We relate to the crowd no matter who’s there”.
Trennt Michaud and Evelyn Walsh are the future of Canadian and pairs figure skating. They are in an excellent position as we enter the four years leading to the 2026 Winter Olympics in Milan, Lombardy and Cortina. In the meantime, you can catch Michaud’s podcast with fellow pairs skater Michael Marinaro, the Ice Lab Podcast.
The ISU Figure Skating World Championships take place from March 21-27, 2022.