Former Okotokian misses out on Sochi

Figure Skating: Thomas Williams and partner Nicole Orford 5th at nationals

By: Bruce Campbell

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Jan 15, 2014 09:48 am

Ice dancers Nicole Orford and Okotoks’ Thomas Williams perform at the Canadian Figure Skating Championships Jan. 10-11 in Ottawa. The pair finished fifth and will not compete at the Olympics.
Ice dancers Nicole Orford and Okotoks’ Thomas Williams perform at the Canadian Figure Skating Championships Jan. 10-11 in Ottawa. The pair finished fifth and will not compete at the Olympics.
photo courtesy Stephan Potopnyk/Skate Canada

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A former Okotoks Skating Club member is putting dreams of the 2014 Winter Olympics behind him and now he will focus on representing his country at another major venue.

“We are actually leaving for Taipei for the Four Continents on Sunday,” said Thomas Williams. “We will be okay at looking at the task at hand and will look out how we can improve our scores. The Olympics are now over for us and we will focus on the rest of the year.”

Okotoks’ Williams and his partner Nicole Orford from Vancouver finished fifth in the dance competition at the Canadian Figure Skating championships in Ottawa Jan. 10-11.

The top three earned spots on the Canadian team going to Sochi, Russia for the Olympic Games.

Although disappointed about not earning a ticket to Russia, Williams was far from upset with their performance in one of the toughest Olympic qualifiers in the world.

“We are actually feeling pretty good,” Williams said in a phone interview from Ottawa. “We skated the best we have all season. We are happy how we performed — it couldn’t have gone any better.”

The favourites for the first two of three Olympics spots were defending Olympic gold medalists Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir and Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje — who finished first and second, respectively, in Ottawa.

However, for the third and final Olympic position, the difference between the next three teams was thinner than a skate blade.

“Going in we knew it could be any one of those three teams battling out for that third spot,” Williams said.

“We just wanted to have two good performances and leave it up to the judges.”

Williams and Orford found themselves in fifth place after the short dance on Jan. 10.

“We were pretty happy after the short — it was a personal best for us,” Williams said. “We were happy with the score and after that it was just focus on the next day for the free dance.”

They weren’t about to throw in the towel going into Saturday’s free dance despite being about 5.5 points back of third-place Alexandra Paul and Mitchell Islam.

“Last year (the 2012 Canadian championships) we went from third to fourth, so anything is possible,” Williams said. “We were hoping but we didn’t expect it. It just didn’t work out.”

Williams said he was also pleased with their free dance — especially the fact it was on national TV.

“We were thrilled to find out we were in the final group and would be shown on TV,” he said with a chuckle. “Our free dance was probably the best we skated all season. We were on the music — sometimes we were behind in places — but we skated full out and I thought it was a pretty solid performance.”

Orford was also pleased with their performance.

“It is a little bittersweet, but as soon as we were finished and the final results came up, I had this feeling that there was nothing bad we could say about our two performances — we did everything we could,” Orford said. “I’m happy with that, but yes, it is disappointing we didn’t make the (Olympic) team but we did our job and everyone skated well.

“It was really anybody’s game.”

Williams is 22 and Orford 21, which means they will be still in their prime for a shot at the 2018 Olympics in South Korea.

“I think it is a possibility as long as we can continue to improve every year,” Williams said.

“I don’t see why we wouldn’t want to try for 2018.”

Orford said it was too early to think about 2018 — just 24 hours after missing her goal of the 2014 Olympics.

“I haven’t thought about it — so far this year our whole focus has been nationals, nationals, nationals to peak for now,” Orford said. “But age-wise, it is definitely a possibility.”

The pair trains out of Vancouver.

The 2014 Canadian Ice Dance team will consist of Virtue/Moir, Weaver/Poje and Paul/Islam.

For more information concerning the national championships go to www.skatecanada.ca

bcampbell@okotoks.greatwest.ca


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