Canadian women ready to play

It’s just all in a day’s work, all these crazy things that Canadian champion Alaine Chartrand does in practice at the world figure skating championships.

All focus is on the Russian women, and the Japanese and of course the Americans, too, but Chartrand is a lively wild card.

On Tuesday during practice, Chartrand, very quietly at one end of the rink clicked off a triple Lutz- triple toe loop – half loop – triple Salchow – hop- double Axel combination thingie.

And just for good measure, she followed it up with a triple Salchow – double Axel – double Axel. Ho hum.

And didn’t miss a beat.

“It’s a way to feel loose,” she said afterward. “I can do all of these crazy combinations when I’m in a good state of mind, relaxed.”

Her practices have been “pretty spot on,” she said. On Monday, she did a long-program run-through that was: “clean, clean, clean,” she said.

She was 11th at worlds last year in her debut. Last week she said she’d love to improve on that and a sixth place finish would be a lovely number.

Between the Russians, Japanese and Americans, there is a logjam of talented skaters at the top. But it might not be wise to count out Chartrand.

Chartrand’s pal, last year’s Canadian champion Gabby Daleman always seems to encounter roadblocks. And she had one after Canadians: a plantar fasciitis problem flared up two days after the event. But she’s clear of it now, has been for several weeks and has also practiced wonderfully.

Daleman skipped Four Continents, which allowed yet another former Canadian champion Kaetlyn Osmond to go. Reason? That injury.

“I’ve always had plantar fasciitis in my left foot,” she said. “I’ve got tendonitis, arthritis. And it all flared up at once and it was just getting too painful to put weight on it.”

So she and coach Lee Barkell made the world championship their first priority and gave Four Continents a miss.

Daleman dealt with plantar fasciitis at the Sochi Olympics and then it started coming back last year at nationals. She’s been battling it for two years. It comes and goes.

She was fine at this year’s Canadian championships, but two days after she returned, she had so much pain in her foot that she could not put her skate on or put weight o it. To Barkell, she said: “There’s something wrong. I need to check this out.”

Dr. Bob Brock told her she needed rest. She was off the ice for two or three weeks and she used her time to find new exercises to improve her strength (exercising muscles she didn’t know she had) and spending a week doing just edges with Tracey Wilson. “I did a lot of programs without spins.” She improved her edges and cardio.

She’s been pain free for the past two or three weeks. “It was kind of a blessing in disguise,” she said, always the positive one. She’s found new edges, new spins, new exercises. She gets foot massages but notes they are not the pleasant kind. She wears a special sleeve that helps to keep the foot tendons stretched.

How ready is she for this? “To be honest, I’ve never felt more ready for a competition in my life than right now,” she said. Which is saying a lot. She always feels ready.


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