It was a pleasure to be able to catch up with Canada’s pair champions Jessica Dube and Bryce Davison over the weekend. The setting was a local Toronta area rink and the occasion was a commercial. I was there volunteering along with my son Peter, because a number of kids that I coach were part of the cast.

What’s new for this season? As has already been reported, coach Annie Barabe is happily anticipating the birth of her first baby which has meant that the skaters had to augment their coaching in another way. Enter former Canadian pair champion, Doug Ladret who now makes his coaching home in Arizona. They have already done work together in both Doug’s rink as well as in Montreal and the situation has been mutually satisfying.

Bryce says: “Doug is very technical but also very calming and for me to able to work with someone who is built more like me, in other words not a huge guy, has been great.”

Jessica adds: “I am someone who gets mad at myself if I can’t do something well the first time. Doug has made me see that even if I don’t do it the first time, I can do it. He is very calm and I don’t feel any pressure.” She goes on to say : “A lot of what Doug says is not too different from what Annie says which means that we don’t have to adjust too much our technique.”

What about travelling to the Grand Prix events in the Fall to Russia and Canada? Jessica says with a chuckle that Annie says she wants to come with the baby! Fortunately, there is enough time to allow the new Mom to be able to figure out what is best for herself, the skaters, the baby.

Jessica and Bryce talked about their programs and are looking forward to unveiling their new short program at the Summer Provinicial competition in Quebec. Working once again with David Wilson they have gone with a program to the soundtrack from The Mask of Zorro…can’t wait to see Bryca Bandera(s)-fied! Jessica talked about moving to something a little different but still allowing them to work on a more character based program, which is one of their strengths. They said that they would be keeping their free program to The Way We Were and have made some changes around the choreography as well as their costumes.

Jessica and Bryce have been hard at work since the start of the summer. One of their goals was to create a new entry into one of their lifts in order to conform to new guidelines in the rules. It seems that a one handed entry, carry and exit on a lift is no longer worth as much as it was without a variation in the entry or a leg hold by the lady in the air. Just one example of how they have been “upping” their game in the off-season.

Far too quickly our break was over and it was time to get back to work. Observing them from a distance, Jessica and Bryce are consummate professionals in front of the camera or behind where they happily chatted with skaters and signed autographs.

Bryce remembers as a six year-old, wearing a Stars on Ice t-shirt and going to a “skate and meet” kind of event with other skaters from his club. He has a picture showing him being carried on Kurt Browning’s shoulders. Not only did he get to meet his idol, he got to skate with him. It is that same sensitivity that he brings to his exchanges with the young people in attendance for whom he and Jessica are the idols.

Jessica smiles at the story and says that for her the gift of skating are the close friends and amazing people she has met.

For 11 year-old Sophie, a brand new pair skater – one of her “amazing people” is Jessica Dube.

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