Emily Bausback lands spot at World Figure Skating Championships – but will they happen?

March 22-28 skating worlds are in Stockholm, and Emily Bausback says: 'I know we wouldn’t be going if it wasn’t safe. I believe that.'

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Emily Bausback’s Googling about Sweden is trending up.

“I’m doing quite a bit of that now. I’m not going to lie,” the 18-year-old figure skater from New Westminster said Friday, fresh off being named one of the Canadian representatives in the ladies’ competition for the International Skating Union world championships slated for Stockholm from March 22-28.

“I’m trying to keep track of everything going on over there.”

One men’s skater, two women, two pairs and three ice-dance teams were named by Skate Canada as entries for the worlds Thursday. Wednesday was the first anniversary of Bausback being named as Canada’s final competitor for the 2020 worlds, which were supposed to happen last March in Montreal.

Those worlds were called off due to COVID-19, like so many other things have been. The organizers in Sweden have been steadfast about making a go of these worlds. Skate Canada high-performance director Mike Slipchuk was quoted in November questioning whether Canada would send a team to Sweden, in part because it’s been difficult to have any sort of season.

Bausback is a good example of that. She’s based out of Scotia Barn in Burnaby, skating for coach Joanne McLeod. Bausback hasn’t hit the ice at a facility other than the one formerly known as Burnaby 8 Rinks since the Challenge Cup in The Netherlands in February 2020.

Bausback, who was the 2020 national champion, had to go through monitoring before landing her worlds spot, which meant she had to skate her short program at Scotia Barn last week for Slipchuk and other Skate Canada officials before getting word that she was getting a chance to advance to Sweden. There’s no word on how many different skaters went through something similar.

Bausback had been a modest eighth at the Skate Canada Challenge, which was held virtually in January. The 2021 nationals were slated for Feb. 8-14 at the University of B.C. but were cancelled.

“I felt that my monitoring went really well,” Bausback said. “I was able to show off all my triple-triple combinations. I had a good feeling I was going to be a strong contender for one of the spots.”

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It’s still easy to question whether these worlds will happen. Sweden has seen a rise in COVID-19 cases of late. Chief epidemiologist Anders Tegnell told a news conference Tuesday that “the British variant is increasing very fast,” and that it will “with fairly high probability be the dominant one within a few weeks or a month.”

There were only minimal new restrictions in the country announced afterwards, though.

Worlds organizers have talked in the past about using a bubble format, but nothing has been confirmed yet.

“I know we wouldn’t be going if it wasn’t safe. I believe that,” Bausback said. “I know that the ISU and Skate Canada are doing the best they can. I feel comfortable with the situation.”

The Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics remain on schedule and the skating worlds the year before an Olympics usually help determine the berthing for those Games. The ISU has said they’ll wait for all the registration numbers to come in and then meet again in March to see if they have to deviate from their regular systems for setting how many entries in which events each country receives for Beijing 2022.

For her part, Bausback has always pegged Beijing 2022 as her “ultimate goal,” and knows that “going to worlds and helping us get spots for Beijing 2022 will really help my case.”

“Has it set in that I’m getting a chance to go to worlds? A little bit,” Bausback continued. “It was one of my missions, working really hard to get on the world team.”

Keegan Messing is slated to be Canada’s representative in the men’s division, while Madeline Schizas joins Bausback in the ladies. With the pairs, it’s Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro, and Evelyn Walsh and Trennt Michaud. In the ice dance, it’s Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier, Laurence Fournier Beaudry and Nikolaj Sorensen, and Marjorie Lajoie and Zachary Lagha.

sewen@postmedia.com

twitter.com/SteveEwen

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