Skaters ready to carve out niche

Paul, Islam have podium in their sights

By Marg. Bruineman – Barrie Examiner

Posted 5 hours ago

When Barrie’s Alexandra Paul and Mitch Islam take to the ice in Skate America on Friday, it won’t be to simply get ice time under their belts.

“Our goal is to come home from California with a medal,” said Paul, point blank. “With two strong performances we feel we can do this.

“Of course, some of the best teams in the world will be competing at Skate America, so we’ve been working extremely hard.”

In an e-mail interview Paul, 20, and Islam, 21, explained their intentions for the figure skating season. Their goal this year is anything but modest. They intend to show the world they are at the top of their game.

The ice dance team came together at Barrie’s Mariposa School of Skating when they both lost their first partners in close succession.

Both are Barrie kids who climbed through the skating ranks, quickly picking ice dance as their event. Their coach is Mitch’s dad, David, who heads the club’s dance program. As Mariposa skaters, they knew each other well and teaming up together seemed a natural move.

It also proved successful early on.

They exploded onto the junior scene as a team and patiently rode on top of that wave before deciding to skate as seniors last year.

On the senior scene, they wanted to be noticed, and they were. At their first event, Skate Canada in Kingston, they received a standing ovation for their free dance. That was an “exhilarating experience,” Islam said.

They placed fourth, a handsome showing in their fist elite event.

They also competed at the Cup of Russia, but injury forced them to withdraw after the short dance program.

When they’re not on the ice, Paul and Islam study. Both are political science students at Laurentian University through Barrie’s Georgian College where they take three courses each semester.

International audiences will see more of the Barrie team this year. After Skate America, Paul and Islam will skate a second international grand prix event, the NHK Trophy Cup in Sapporo, Japan.

“We are striving for two strong showings at both our grand prix events,” Paul said. “Beyond this, we want to finish on the senior national podium again and earn a spot on the world team.”

As part of the world team, the duo will get a trip to the highly desirable Four Continents Championships in February and then the competition of them all, the world championships in March.

“Our goal is to finish in the top 10 in the world,” Paul said.

Skate America is the first of six International Skating Union grand prix series events held during the 2010-11 figure skating season, attracting world-class figure skaters.

Skate Canada arrives the following week in Mississauga. The other grand prix events are the NHK Trophy Cup, Trophee Eric Bompard and Rostelcom Cup in Russia.

The top six point earners in each event are then invited to compete at the ISU Grand Prix Final.

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On the Ice

Alexandra Paul and Mitchell Islam will represent Barrie the ice at Skate America in Ontario, Calif., this weekend.

They’ll skate in the short dance today, beginning at 7 p.m. The free dance is scheduled for Saturday at 11:45 a.m.

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