Story by Jeff Gard/Total Sports Quinte
Returning to Ottawa for next week’s national figure skating championships will mark a great milestone for Trennt Michaud, of the Quinte region, and pairs partner Evelyn Walsh.
“Five years ago in 2017 was actually our first nationals together in (Ottawa) when we won juniors,” Michaud said over the phone from Brantford where he trains with Walsh, who is from London.
“It’s crazy to think that we’ve been skating together for that long because it hasn’t felt that way and I think that’s because we’re really good friends and we both admire each other in our work ethic and how hard we work for things. We both started this because we love skating and I think at the root we’re both competitive and we want to win and be the best versions of ourselves and be the best, but we both love skating and I think that’s what makes it easier every day. Our partnership has just evolved over time.”
The 2022 Canadian Tire National Skating Championships event won’t be quite the same as when they captured gold at the junior level in 2017.
Skate Canada announced Thursday that spectators will no longer be permitted in the arena at TD Place from Jan. 6 to 13 due to the rapidly escalating situation with the Omicron variant and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Michaud and Walsh are scheduled to compete in the senior pairs short program on Jan. 7 at 5:30 p.m. and the free program on Jan. 8 at 5:15 p.m. The event will be available via live stream at cbc.ca.
They are chasing a berth on the Canadian Olympic team for the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing, China this February. The national championships aren’t an official qualifier, Michaud noted, but it would be the highest weighted event in determining the team’s participants.
Two spots are up for grabs for Canadian pairs teams.
Michaud and Walsh have become accustomed to battling with Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro, but now Eric Radford (an Olympic bronze medallist with former partner Meagan Duhamel) has come out of retirement and is now skating with Vanessa James, an ex-French skater.
“Obviously it’s been in our heads…but this lead up to the nationals prep and training has been just trying to focus on ourselves and our own path because that’s all we can do,” Michaud said. “We can’t control what everybody else is doing so for us it’s been that. We’ve been skating very well and we’re excited and hopefully we get to skate next week at nationals and do what we can.”
Michaud feels fortunate the pair has been able to compete during this Grand Prix season, including in Las Vegas for Skate America, in Japan (in a bubble setting) for the NHK Trophy and recently at a Challenger Series event in Croatia.
Now Michaud’s sights are set on the Olympics. He would relish the opportunity to be a member of Team Canada, whether that’s now or in the future.
“We really want to be on that team, but if we’re not we’re just going to take it and learn from it and then in four years be ready and make sure that we’ve done everything we can to make sure we’re on that team,” Michaud remarked.
In addition to hours spent on the ice, Michaud and Walsh’s weekly training routine includes off-ice cardio and strength lift workouts as well as ballet.
“It really becomes a full-time job for the most part and that’s kind of what it is at this point for me,” Michaud said, adding that he also coaches with the Brant Figure Skating Club and still holds a job at SportChek as well. “I’m very lucky that I get to be able to do this every day and wouldn’t give it up for the world.”
Michaud also began co-hosting The Ice Lab podcast with Marinaro. They may both be fighting for the available Olympic berths, but they are also best friends and training mates.
“We’re trying to bring a lot more awareness to amateur sports and the athletes and people that work in it,” Michaud said. “We can learn a lot of things from other athletes and people. We’ve had physios, strength and conditioning coaches, osteopaths on it. It’s really, really fun. We both enjoy it a lot. It’s cool to listen to and get to know other athletes and their experiences a little bit more.”
Born in Belleville, Michaud lived with his family in Foxboro before they moved between Trenton and Brighton. He attended high school in Brighton at East Northumberland Secondary School. He previously skated with the Quinte Skating Club and Prince Edward Skating County Skating Club and currently represents the Trenton Figure Skating Club.
Asked for any advice for Quinte area figure skaters, Michaud offered that “I’ve been very grateful and lucky that since the first major lockdown we’ve been able to skate the whole time, but as a coach of younger ones I’ve also seen the start and stop and start and stop.
“The only thing I can say is to just be grateful for what we get,” he continued. “You can always better yourself even when you’re not on the ice. There’s lots you can do off the ice to better yourself for figure skating or for anything else that you’re doing and just set your goals and enjoy every moment that you can because even now everything could just be taken away, which we never really thought about before. Just live every moment that you get on the ice.”