Canada’s best shine bright at Stars on Ice

With C+C Music Factory blaring “everybody dance now” on the PA, three-time world champion and two-time Winter Olympics silver-medallist Elvis Stojko did just that with his nifty moves, in bringing the house down to end the first half of Stars on Ice on Tuesday night at Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre.

But the 47-year-old Stojko’s Olympic turns were at Lillehammer, Norway, in 1994 and Nagano, Japan, in 1998.

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The Canadian future, pointing to the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, was represented on Blanshard by current two-time Canadian-champion Nam Nguyen.

The crowd of 4,567 at the Memorial Cente was down from last year’s sold-out throng of 6,889, repeating a theme from across the country, as the 12-city 2019 Canadian tour put on its penultimate performance ahead of the concluding show on Thursday at Rogers Arena in Vancouver.

The attendance drop was understandable. Last year’s show was generational and took place amid the golden glow of Canada’s standout performances in the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. Everybody wanted a piece of it.

But the 2018 Winter Games are old news. The big Canuck draws, Pyeongchang double gold-medallists Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, have retired from both competitive and show skating. Yet, Canada’s Pyeongchang Olympic team gold medallists Patrick Chan, Kaetlyn Osmond, Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford returned to headline a still-steller cast on Tuesday evening. Duhamel skated while 15 weeks pregnant, which has got to be some kind of first for Blanshard Street.

Osmond, Duhamel and Radford also won 2018 Olympic bronze medals, to go with their team gold, and three-time Olympic medallist Chan is a three-time world champion.

A standout international addition to the cast this year is two-time world champion and two-time Olympic silver-medallist Evgenia Medvedeva of Russia, who skated exceptionally in her Blanshard Street debut.

Canadian ice dancers, long in the shadow nationally and internationally to Virtue and Moir, had outstanding nights. National silver medalists Piper Gilles and Paul Poirer skated to a haunting rendition of Don McLean’s Starry Starry Night while three-time world medallists Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje were energetic to the rousing and much-covered Land of a Thousand Dances.

“It’s a good group,” said four-time world champion Kurt Browning, who skated, one Canadian legend to another, to Gordon Lightfoot’s If You Could Read My Mind.

“The Island fans are so knowledgeable and we always treat Victoria as a kind of reward for us near the end of the tour.”

cdheensaw@timescolonist.com

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