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Sale, Pelletier join illustrious company in CSHOF

Canadian pairs greats recognized on 10th anniversary of Olympic triumph

Jamie Salé and David Pelletier pose on the red carpet.
Jamie Salé and David Pelletier pose on the red carpet. (Courtesy of Canada's Sports Hall of Fame)

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By Lois Elfman, special to icenetwork.com
(10/25/2012) - It was a night filled with emotion, family, pride and a sense of solidarity for Canadian sport.

On Oct. 18, Canadian, world and Olympic pairs champions Jamie Salé and David Pelletier were inducted into Canada's Sports Hall of Fame (CSHOF). The other members of the class of 2012 were soccer pioneer Charmaine Hooper, hockey champion Scott Niedermayer, rower Derek Porter, bobsledder Pierre Lueders, speedskater Jeremy Wotherspoon and sport builders Marion Lay and Daryl "Doc" Seaman.

"It's our 10-year [Olympic] anniversary," Salé said. "A nice reflection time. It was perfect."

The mission of the CSHOF is "to promote the importance of sport to Canadian culture, families and communities by sharing the compelling stories of our outstanding achievements in Canadian sport."

Each year, there are many nominees but only a handful of inductees.

"Jamie and David very much fit that high level of recognition," said Mario Siciliano, president and CEO of the CSHOF. "We look at them as being very deserving inductees not only because of their performances on the ice but also because of what they stood for, how they displayed the values and character that the country appreciates."

Launched in 1955, the CSHOF relocated to Canada Olympic Park in Calgary, site of the 1988 Olympic Winter Games, in July 2011. The move allowed for an expansion and an increase in the education programs, including interactive features that teach kids about the history of Canadian sport.

Previous figure skating inductees include Brian Orser, Elvis Stojko, Barbara Underhill and Paul Martini, Barbara Wagner and Robert Paul, Frances Dafoe and Norris Bowden, and the late Barbara Ann Scott.

The illustrious company was not lost on Salé and Pelletier.

"The hall is pretty spectacular," Salé said. "I know I'll be going back. I'd like to take the time to really read about the athletes. There are so many sports there."

The inductions took place over the course of two days filled with autograph sessions, interviews and receptions. It culminated with a gala on last Thursday at which Salé and Pelletier were joined by his parents, and her mother, father, stepmother and brother as well as their 5-year-old son, Jesse, who wore a tie for the very first time ("He looked like a little man") and got his parents gifts to mark the occasion. Also part of the festivities was Salé's husband, former NHL star Craig Simpson, whom she married this past June.

"Dave and I were at the table laughing as old friends," Salé said. "We said to each other, 'How great is this?' We both had tears in our eyes."

Skate Canada High Performance Director Mike Slipchuk, a longtime friend of Salé and Pelletier, and Jan Ullmark, the pair's former coach, attended the festivities. Salé spoke about how influential Ullmark was in her life and on her skating. She credited her family for encouraging her to pursue her passion.

"My family was so instrumental in supporting me, encouraging me and helping me persevere through the times that I was struggling," Salé said, making specific reference to the years she returned to skating singles while searching for a partner.

The gala will be broadcast on Rogers Sportsnet on Nov. 4, with sportscaster Rob Faulds serving as host. Faulds interviewed each of the inductees about their beginnings in sports, and filmed vignettes were also shown.

"We can help inspire children and other people," Salé said. "All the vignettes were really nice. You get goosebumps and a little bit emotional."

All the inductees contributed items of memorabilia -- for Salé and Pelletier, it was their Love Story costumes and skates. Those items are placed in what the CSHOF calls the "Locker Room." For the next year, the lockers of the class of 2012 will be specially featured. Next year, those nine lockers will join the 520 previous inductees in a permanent exhibit, making room for the new inductees.

Salé said, "The events were way more than I even expected."