Maekawas hit personal bests to kick start week of skating nationals

Pilar and Leonardo Maekawa ended the novice dance fifth overall in Canada today

Pilar and Leonardo Maekawa ended the novice dance fifth overall in Canada today

Jim Sinclair

Sooke News Mirror

Every athlete dreams of gold, but measurable improvement is sometimes enough to hope for.

The figure skating Maekawas glided onto the biggest stage of their young careers this week – the Skate Canada Junior Nationals on home ice at Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre – and raised their national rankings in the process.

Before the competition Sooke siblings Pilar, 16, and brother Leonardo, 18, ranked sixth in the country in novice ice dance while Leonardo was rated eighth in novice men’s. The performances by the Racquet Club of Victoria skaters bumped them up one rank each by the end.

“With our routine I felt everything went well,” said Leo much later of their personal best score of 53.87 in Tuesday’s free dance, a mark that earned them fifth spot overall.

The energetic free dance routine made up for Monday’s effort in the compulsories. The couple appeared nervous and were less than precise early on, but recovered well and sat eighth in a field of 15.

“It was like… euphoria,” he said, clutching a stuffed toy one of the many local fans tossed on the ice following his own skate.

“I remember (being) in our starting pose and the next thing we were bowing for the crowd. It felt great and being in front of the home crowd made us even more excited to keep going. It was a perfect way to end the season.”

Pilar, still catching her breath immediately following the free dance, said the local fans were great and “gave us so much positive energy.”

Leo’s seventh-place finish in the novice men’s category made it three B.C. skaters in the top seven overall.

The 2011 BMO Canadian Figure Skating Championships begin today.

The top finishers in each of the Maekawa’s events are listed as follows:

Novice Dance

1. Madeline Edwards/ Zhao Kai Pang BC/YT

2. Noa Bruser/ Timothy Lum BC/YT

3. Mackenzie Bent/ Garrett MacKeen EO

4. Caelen Dalmer/ Shane Firus BC/YT

5. Pilar Maekawa/ Leonardo Maekawa BC/YT

Novice Men

1 Mitchell Gordon BC/YT

2 Mathieu Nepton QC

3 Christophe Belley QC

4 Alistair Sylvester WO

5 Nicolas Tondreau-Alin QC

6 Graeme Gordon BC/YT

7 Leonardo Maekawa BC/YT