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Langlois and Hay return to top form

Former Canadian pair champions claim bronze at Nebelhorn Trophy

Anabelle Langlois (pictured with Cody Hay) has decided to step away from competitive figure skating.
Anabelle Langlois (pictured with Cody Hay) has decided to step away from competitive figure skating. (Getty Images)

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By Lois Elfman, special to icenetwork.com
(09/29/2009) - It wasn't their first competition since returning to action following injury, but the Nebelhorn Trophy in Oberstdorf, Germany, was their first big competition. Anabelle Langlois and Cody Hay, 2008 Canadian pair champions, have been slowly working their way back into competitive form since Langlois' broken right ankle derailed their 2008-09 season.

They'd done the Thornhill competition this summer and showed their programs at the national team training camp in Vancouver, but this was their first international since the 2008 world championships.

"It was definitely nice to get back out on the ice and get that feeling again," said Hay, 26, after the pair returned home to Canada with bronze medals.

"Stepping onto the ice with the world champions (Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy of Germany) and the Ukrainians (Tatiana Volosozhar and Stanislav Morozov), who are both really strong teams that we admire a lot, made it feel real," said Langlois, 28.

"I've been a lot more nervous," she admitted. "This is my new thing I've developed now since being injured. I've been getting a lot more nervous for events. I was pretty nervous for [Nebelhorn], but it felt great to be out there."

Langlois said her ankle has not been a problem. She wears a bit of padding in her boot. At team camp in Vancouver, the team doctor said the injury had healed well.

"I'm still working on building my confidence," Langlois said. "I can do everything and I have no more pain, but I did miss 14 months of being out there. That's the one thing why I think I have a lot more nerves."

Hay said the pair has received all positive feedback on its short program, but the consistent comments on the free skate have been that it needs a more powerful climax at the end. A throw triple Lutz is the third to last element and if Langlois doesn't land it the crescendo falls flat.

Both are pleased with their performances at Nebelhorn, despite the obvious room for improvement. Between now and Skate Canada in November, they'll be working on building consistency. Their coaches and choreographer have been slowly adding elements into the free skate, and now that Nebelhorn is done the next thing to add is the triple twist. They'll be doing an Oktoberfest competition at their home rink, the Mariposa School of Skating in Barrie, Ontario.

Although they're trying not to get too far ahead of themselves, unquestionably both are extremely aware that a home country Olympics is less than five months away.

"To be on an Olympic team is something that I've dreamed of and it's been a goal of mine since I started skating," said Hay, who comes from British Columbia. "Then you add on top of that the Olympics are going to be in your home country and you have an entire country supporting you, and it's going to be in your home province -- it's very surreal. I really do try not to think about all of it too much, but obviously it's everywhere you look."

The Nebelhorn Trophy served as an Olympic qualifier for some countries that had not earned Olympic berths at the 2009 world championships. Langlois said she could sense the tension on practices and in the locker room.

"At the end of the event, I was actually congratulating some of the teams that had qualified and that knew they were going to the Olympics," she said. "They were telling me, 'We'll see you there.' I said, 'I'm going to know in January.' They already knew they're going. I don't."

"Obviously, we still have a lot of room to grow and a lot of work to do, but we're really trying to focus on staying on the path that we're on," said Hay. "We're just trying to keep on building."

"I think that come nationals we're going to have done everything in our power to be not just ready for nationals to qualify, but to really go challenge at the Olympics," said Langlois.