At the Canadian Championships, Marie-France Dubreuil of Sainte-Catharine, Que., and Patrice Lauzon of Boisbriand, Que., won the silver medal, but they celebrated their first mark of 5.9, given by Olympic-level judge Liz Clark, for their exquisite Madame Butterfly routine. In December, the pair earned a surprise berth in the Grand Prix Final with a fourth-place finish at the NHK Trophy at Kumamoto, Japan, on Saturday. The up-and-coming Canadian stars defeated a Ukrainian couple, Elena Grushina and Ruslan Goncharov, who had finished three spots ahead of them in eighth place at the world championships in March.
Dubreuil said they intended to show off different programs from last season and to be ready early. "It's very important for us this year to be very strong, so that next year when other couples ahead of us retire, the judges will remember us, and we can really make a push to the podium for next year," she said.
"It is a great opportunity for us to go to the final, especially since it is in Canada," Lauzon said. "We haven't had a chance to skate in Canada this year yet." They had been assigned to Grand Prix qualifying events outside North America.
Making it to the Grand Prix Final helped them "close the gap" between them and couples ahead of them in the world rankings, Dubreuil told The Globe and Mail. Finishing second to the world champions from Italy at the Sparkassen Cup in Germany three weeks ago also helped to enhance their international profile, Dubreuil said.
"It gave us confidence," she said, "and going to the Grand Prix Final would give us even more confidence for worlds and Olympics."
In Salt Lake, Dubreuil and Lauzon will skate their Original Dance to Yo Soy Maria; Balada Renga Para Un Organito Loco; Yo Soy Maria (from the Astor Piazzolla Album: Maria De Bueno Aires). They will skate their Free Dance to Madam Butterfly (Giacomo Puccini, played and rearranged by Karl Hugo Album: Madam Butterfly).