Sandhu's on the fence for Canadian nationals

Olympic mascots announced; reaching out to Skate Canada alumni

From left to right, Miga, Quatchi and Suma, the mascots for the 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games in Vanouver, wave to the crowd.
From left to right, Miga, Quatchi and Suma, the mascots for the 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games in Vanouver, wave to the crowd. (Getty Images)


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By Laurie Nealin, special to
(11/30/2007) - Canada's three-time national champion, the ever-mysterious Emanuel Sandhu, has yet to confirm that he will compete at the 2008 Canadian Championships, just over one month from now in Vancouver, his home city. Technically, he does not have to announce his intentions in advance of the event since his top-three finish last season earned him automatic entry to the 2008 championships.

Skate Canada is hopeful, however, that if he is not going to compete he will provide enough advance notice to allow another men's competitor to be ready to fill the vacancy on the 18-man roster.

Sandhu, who won the national crown in 2001, 2003 and 2004, took a pass on competing in the fall Grand Prix events but left the door open to return for the nationals, the qualifying event for the world championships and national team membership.

In the meantime, he has not been sitting home with his feet up during his break from competition.

Sandhu has been skating in lots of shows, having traveled to Korea and Germany to perform, and participated in a television program on Canada's Slice TV network to fulfill a child's wish. The segment is expected to air in mid-December.

Sandhu reportedly performed "Burn Up the Floor," the song he released as a single and which has proven popular in dance clubs. He also went skating with the child. Other details are being kept under wraps until the program airs.

Sandhu, who turned 27 this month, has landed on Canada's senior men's podium on one step or another an impressive 10 times in a row, from 1998 to 2007. In 2005, Jeffrey Buttle took over as Canadian champion.

Olympic Critters

Miga, Quatchi and Sumi -- the three fanciful mascots for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games -- were introduced to the world this week in a grand ceremony in Vancouver.

Miga is a "sea bear" -- part killer whale and part Kermode bear, a rare white bear that only lives in British Columbia. The creature is small and said to be mischievous.

Quatchi is a young sasquatch - or Big Foot -- who comes from the forests of Canada. Quatchi loves all winter sports but is especially fond of ice hockey and dreams of becoming a world-famous goalie.

Sumi is an animal spirit who lives in the mountains of British Columbia. He wears the hat of an orca whale, has the wings of a mighty thunderbird and the furry legs of a black bear.

Two Vancouver design professionals were selected from among 177 designers world-wide to create the mascot characters, which the designers affectionately call "critters." Their inspiration came from local geography and legends.

When Canada last hosted the Winter Games in Calgary in 1988, the mascots were Hidy and Howdy, a brother-sister duo of polar bears who were outfitted in western garb. They wore white cowboy hats like the one Canada's sweetheart Liz Manley plopped onto her head after her sizzling silver medal-winning skate on home ice.

Find out more about Miga here.
Find out more about Quatchi here.
Find out more about Sumi here.

Reaching Out

Skate Canada (the organization) has put out a call asking all its former junior, senior and synchronized national team members and international competitors to drop them a line.

Called the Skate Canada Alumni program, the new initiative is an attempt to reconnect with the country's skaters who have retired and whose ties to the sport have been weakened or severed.

"Skate Canada's goal is to reverse this process, to celebrate the future of the sport by remembering its past," says the notice posted on

Celina Stepanic, Skate Canada's elite athlete manager, noted that they had received 50 responses within the first week of the notice appearing on the web site.

"We will create a database and call each person to do a survey to see what they want from this program," Stepanic said. "Whether it's to provide services either professionally or as a volunteer -- things like guest speaking -- we want to know what they want to do.

"By next spring, we will assess if the level of interest warrants a full program," she added.

Some of the former skaters checking in so far include Lisa Sargeant Driscoll, the 1990 Canadian women's champion, and Valerie Jones Bartlette, who ranked fourth in the world in 1966 and 1967, the years Peggy Fleming won her first two global titles.