World Figure Skating Championships | “We keep our heads high,” says Nikolaj Soerensen

(Montreal) After a poor performance for his debut at the World Championships, Montreal figure skater Nikolaj Soerensen was caught up in the controversy surrounding his participation in the dance competition with his partner Laurence Fournier Beaudry, Friday afternoon , at the Bell Center.

Following the triumph of Deanna Stellato-Dudek and Maxime Deschamps as a couple, the Canadian team was represented by three duets in dance, the event where it can aim for another podium. Five hours after the start of the rhythm dance, all eyes were on Soerensen and Fournier Beaudry, the first competitors to start in the eighth and final group.

Fournier Beaudry lost his balance during the twirling sequence, an error which weighed down the rest of the choreography delivered to a medley of the film’s music Top Gun. Soerensen closed his eyes at the conclusion of the performance, probably aware that this hitch would cost them dearly.

In the “kiss and cry” zone, the dancers waited for the score to be revealed with a stoic air, accompanied by their coach Patrice Lauzon. The fifth-place finishers at the last Worlds barely reacted to the display of their score of 75.79 points, seven less than their peak this season.


Laurence Fournier-Beaudry and Nikolaj Soerensen

The silver medalists of the Four Continents Championships then appeared before the journalists.

“We were super excited to come here to the Bell Center to perform in front of everyone from Canada and the whole family,” began Fournier Beaudry, his eyes fixed on those of Soerensen, who is also his spouse.

It’s certain that we are a little disappointed with the technical error that happened today during our performance. But it’s a mistake at the moment and we just want to continue to look forward.

Laurence Fournier-Beaudry

Soerensen continued by talking about his happiness at performing at home in front of an audience who does not often have the chance to attend international competitions of this scale in figure skating.

“It is with great pride that we successfully completed 95% of our program,” he added. We’re going to hold our heads high, then we’re going to come back. »

As their coach Marie-France Dubreuil admitted earlier this week, Soerensen acknowledged that the rape accusations brought by a former American skater and coach before the Office of the Sports Integrity Commissioner (BCIS), a Canadian authority, had represented a hard blow, both for him and his partner, which he did not take his eyes off at each of his answers.

“It had a lot of impact on our mentality, that’s for sure,” he said in French. We are a very, very, very close-knit couple, very, very strong, but with a little bit of pressure, as you know, it’s sure that it was a little more difficult than in normal circumstances. We are still here, we feel ready and we are very proud to be here. We hold our heads high for tomorrow. »


The original Dane was caught by his first public statements, two weeks earlier, since the unveiling of this story by the American daily USA Today, January 4. Reaffirming his innocence, he said this in a press scrum with Quebec journalists: “When it comes out in the media, the damage is already done. I think that was the intention more than anything else. »

This statement represents a case of “retaliation” against the alleged victim, thundered his lawyer in an article in the USA Today published Thursday. These comments “cast doubt on the motivations of the person reporting a rape to the BCIS, a form of retaliation prohibited by the BCIS,” she told Christine Brennan, the journalist who broke the story.

Asked about this, Soerensen assured that he was unaware of the existence of this new article. “I don’t know at all,” he said. I followed all the regulations and that’s pretty much all I can say about that. »

Relaunched in English by Mme Brennan, the 35-year-old skater, said he couldn’t answer that question. Seconds earlier, he explained that the accusation made by the alleged victim could be “really traumatic” when a person “feels like they haven’t done anything wrong.” This is why, he explained, he and his partner had withdrawn from the Canadian Championships in Vancouver, a few days after the publication of the original paper.

Fournier Beaudry, a 31-year-old Montrealer, recalled that they “trained really hard to be here and have the chance to perform” in Montreal.


Laurence Fournier-Beaudry and Nikolaj Soerensen

In her deposition to the BCIS, the former American skater, whose identity is unknown, claimed that she “feared for her life” when Soerensen forced her to have sex at a party in Hartford in 2012. In a message sent to Christine Brennan, she clarified that her complaint was motivated by her deep fear that Soerensen would cause other victims, particularly if he became a coach. The case is still ongoing. If sanctions are issued, they will be made public.

Costly mistake

At the end of a busy day – they led in whole or in part more than a third of the 36 duos competing – Marie-France Dubreuil and Patrice Lauzon underlined how heavy the pressure was for Fournier Beaudry and Soerensen.

“It wasn’t easy to get them here,” they told The Press. It’s already a success that they got there and that they can fight properly. »

The performance coach of their I.AM school, located at the Gadbois arena in Saint-Henri, made sure to keep the two athletes far from what was being said and written in the media. “They still had support from the crowd,” said Dubreuil. However, their lives really haven’t been easy since the article came out. »

On a sporting level, the flips caused problems all week for Fournier Beaudry, revealed Lauzon.

“She couldn’t control them tonight. Twizzles are a risky element in dance. This is where most mistakes are made. The slightest mistake is costly, especially like today, where almost no one has made one. »

“Incredible, magical!” »

Americans Madison Chock and Evan Bates, two members of I.AM, dominated the rhythm dance with a score of 90.08, giving themselves a good chance for a second world title heading into Saturday’s free skate. Italians Charlène Guignard and Marco Fabbri followed with 87.52, just ahead of Canadians Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier (86.51).


Laurence Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier

The young duo composed of Marjorie Lajoie and Zachary Lagha, 23 and 24 years old, two other protégés of Dubreuil and Lauzon, caused a surprise by settling into fifth position thanks to a dynamic medley on Thrillerby Michael Jackson.

Victim of a serious concussion at the start of the year, the skater from Boucherville was very afraid of missing the world meeting, but she received the green light at the last minute.

“It’s really touching because I wasn’t even sure I was going to be able to be here,” said Lajoie, all smiles. It’s been two and a half months since I had my concussion and I got the doctor’s clearance a week before the competition. I followed the protocol to the letter and that’s why I was able to be there. We had two, three weeks to prepare. To achieve a personal peak this season, it’s magical, it’s incredible! »


Marjorie Lajoie and Zachary Lagha

However, the intense Lagha said he was “not looking forward” to hitting the ice at the Bell Center on Saturday. “We’re going to take advantage of it. [aujourd’hui] because you have to understand that for most skaters, I would say a good 90% – others might not say it – don’t really like skating, he explained. It’s so stressful that everyone puts on their skates and asks themselves: why are we doing this? »

If this is the case, the young man from the South Shore of Montreal, an accomplished pianist and dance student, hid it well from the public on Friday. On Saturday, for the free program, 11 of the 20 pairs of dancers competing will come from the Montreal Ice Academy. “Whether they are from Canada or another country, for them who train and live here all year round, it is a local competition,” insisted Patrice Lauzon, a little jealous of not having himself- never even had such an opportunity as a skater.

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