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Skating nationals in Nova Scotia highlight 'tremendous depth' in growing sport

Eight-time Canadian champion Patrick Chan performs Sunday at the exhibition gala to close the 2016 National Skating Championships, held at the Scotiabank Centre in Halifax.
Eight-time Canadian champion Patrick Chan performs Sunday at the exhibition gala to close the 2016 National Skating Championships, held at the Scotiabank Centre in Halifax.

METRO HALIFAX - Despite smaller crowds than usual at this year's national championships, Skate Canada chief executive officer Dan Thompson said he's "pleased" with how the event turned out in Halifax.

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Eight-time Canadian champion Patrick Chan performs Sunday at the exhibition gala to close the 2016 National Skating Championships, held at the Scotiabank Centre in Halifax.

With about 5,000 seats available for the 2016 National Skating Championships at the Scotiabank Centre, upwards of 60 per cent of those were full at the event's busiest, which Thompson said was Saturday night for the senior men and senior pair free programs.

"It's a little under previous years," Thompson said following Sunday's exhibition gala, which concluded the week-long event that kicked off last Monday with novice and junior programs.

"We thought we'd do a little better, but overall, we're pleased," he said, highlighting Halifax as an ideal host city.

"The volunteers were wonderful and the community was very engaging, very accommodating," he said. "The skaters felt very welcome."

For Thompson, one of this year's highlights was the senior women's event, which saw Alaine Chartrand of Ontario crowned Canadian champion, Gabrielle Daleman of Ontario snagging second and Atlantic Canadian Kaetlyn Osmond of Newfoundland finishing third.

"That was the cleanest and best top three that we've ever had in Canadian women's skating," he said of the tough competition, which also featured Stephanie Walmsley of Cole Harbour claiming 15th place.

"It was really exciting to see those skaters perform so well."

That's an example of just how deep the talent pool has become in Canadian skating, "in all disciplines," Thompson said.

"Patrick is clearly back," he added, referring to the eighth straight national title won by Patrick Chan of Ontario, who overcame glute and knee injuries to compete.

"We saw a number of world class performances," Thompson said. "We're really excited about the increasing quality of our events."

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