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Hanyu and Medvedeva begin season at Autumn Classic

September 20, 2018

Two-time men’s Olympic gold medalist Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan and Pyeongchang Games women’s silver medalist Evgenia Medvedeva begin their figure skating seasons this weekend at the Autumn Classic in Oakville, Ontario.

Hanyu, the first man to win consecutive Olympic championships since Dick Button in 1952, will make his first appearance in competition since the games. Like Medvedeva, he trains in Toronto with coach Brian Orser. Medvedeva joined Orser following the Olympics.

U.S. women’s champion Bradie Tennell also will compete.

The event is part of the International Skating Union’s Challenger Series, a B circuit to the Grand Prix Series.

Canada’s Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje skated in a show last season in Astana, Kazakhstan, and on the flight home and for days afterward the ice dancers couldn’t get a particular song out of their heads.

“SOS, d’un terrien en detresse,” by Kazakh superstar Dimash Kudaibergen, was the song Denis Ten skated his free program to last season. The Kazakh skater had just stepped off the ice as Weaver and Poje were about to go on.

“And then we just couldn’t get it out of our heads, kept humming this tune over and over,” Weaver said.

They played the song for their coach Nikolai Morozov, and his response was quick.

“He said ‘This is it,’” Weaver said.

The reigning world bronze medalists will debut their free dance to “SOS, d’un terrien en detresse” — they chose a different version by Los Angeles: The Voices — at the Autumn Classic.

Weaver and Poje couldn’t have known the emotional wallop that would come with picking this piece of music. Ten was stabbed to death in July by a couple of men reportedly trying to steal his car mirror.

Ten was the best skater to come out of Kazakhstan, winning bronze at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. His murder rocked the close-knit skating community.

“We were saying, ‘Thank you Denis for bringing this music to us.’ And then following that tragedy it’s with a heavy heart that we say we are now making this piece a tribute to him. It’s our way of saying thank you to him,” Weaver said, fighting back tears.

The Autumn Classic is the only time Weaver and Poje will compete this fall. The 29-year-old Weaver and Poje, 31, will return to competition at the Canadian championships in January.

The Grand Prix circuit opens with Skate America from Oct. 19-21 in Everett, Washington. Vancouver will host the Grand Prix Final from Dec. 6-9.

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