Connaught Skating Club's fund raiser show tomorrow night suddenly features two of the brightest up-and-coming stars in the country.
"No One Fights Alone" is a benefit show for the daughter of a longtime club instructor who is battling cancer. Melanie Pudlas has taught ballet for Connaught since 1997 and works with the skaters on developing their artistry on the ice.
Her daughter Angela was diagnosed with stomach cancer last year. She is a young mother of two small children.
The show, which takes place at 6 p.m. at Minoru Arena, has received a big boost after last week's Canadian Figure Skating Championships in Mississauga where two of Connaught's star athletes came through with outstanding performances.
The week started with 14-year-old Larkyn Austman continuing her breakthrough season by winning the Junior Women's title and concluded with 16year-old Mitchell Gordon's marvelous free skate program that secured his spot in next month's World Junior Championships.
Sitting 11th in the senior men's competition after his short program, Gordon turned heads with a free skate to a Neil Diamond medley that produced the fourth highest marks and vaulted him all the way up to seventh in the final standings.
Gordon skated a clean program, that included a triple axle, and by the end, had the crowd clapping in unison to his music - never mind his coaches Keegan and Eileen Murphy jumping in jubilation. He will be one of two skaters representing Canada at the 2013 Junior Worlds in Milan, Italy.
"You just never see that with a young skater like Mitchell," said Keegan Murphy of the crowd's response. "A lot of credit has to go to our choreographer Mark Pillay. We threw around a lot of different ideas and he believed the crowd would be of Neil Diamond's generation and he couldn't have been more right. (Laughing) I didn't know Neil Diamond's music at all!
"The crowd also played on Mitchell's youth and he capitalized on it to show how much talent he has."
A month ago, Austman captured the Skate Canada Challenge with a comeback win that garnered her much attention.
At the Nationals, she posted personal bests in both the short and free programs and proceeded to lock up the title with 149.75 points. It was nearly 26 points better than her nearest competition.
"It was great - I just wanted to skate cleanly and do what I had been doing in practice," Austman said.
"I was nervous but I'm nervous before every competition."
In the short program, she began the 2: 50 routine with a triple salchow-double toe jump. Its success often helps set the tone for the rest of her skate.
"It's first and it was clean," she said. "It felt really good because I had struggled a little with it in the warmup but we fixed it and it went smoothly."
In the long program she nailed another triple sal-chow-double toe and then unveiled a new jump that she had rehearsed hard since the Challenge - a double axel-triple jump.
Austman said landing it perfectly was a huge boost for the rest of her routine where she finished with 100.97 points and a tremendous margin over her rivals.
"We just put it in and as soon as I hit it I knew - it just felt good," she said. "It was the best I could do, and I knew I had done it."
Tickets for tomorrow night's charity show are $10 and can be purchased on line at www.coastregistry. com/events/connaught. They also will be available at the door.
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