Worlds Rewind: Calgary 2006

As we head into the home stretch to the ISU World Figure Skating Championships® 2020 in Montreal, Quebec, we continue to look back at previous world championships staged in Canada. Part 9 of the ten-part series reflects on the 2006 world championships in Calgary.

One thing was certain heading into the 2006 ISU World Figure Skating Championships at Calgary’s Pengrowth Saddledome – the door was wide open for a changing of the guard.

With the 2006 Olympic Winter Games closing out in Torino, Italy, just weeks earlier, a lot of familiar faces decided to take a pass on the world championships.

Olympic men’s champion Evgeni Plushenko declined to attend the event, as did ladies’ gold medallist Shizuka Arakawa. Russian pairs champions Tatiana Totmianina and Maxim Marinin retired from competitive skating.

With Plushenko not competing, it was shaping up to be a battle between Canadian Jeffrey Buttle, Switzerland’s Stephane Lambiel and Americans Evan Lysacek and Johnny Weir for the gold medal.

It was as close as many predicted.

Defending world champion Lambiel, skating to Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons”, laid down a magnificent free program punctuated by a quad toe loop and four triples in the second half of his program. Even with his near-perfect performance, Lambiel defeated Joubert by less than four points for gold.

Lysacek bounced back from a hard fall in the warmup to claim the bronze medal. Canadian Emanuel Sandhu was fifth, followed by Buttle in sixth and Weir in seventh.

“I’m so happy with this title,” said Lambiel afterwards. “I competed, I fought, I was very confident, and my goal today was to skate for myself.”

“I had to push myself harder and harder and that’s why I did this job. I just thought about my skating and nothing else.”

In what many considered one of the biggest upsets in the history of the world championships, American Kimmie Meissner had the skate of her life in the free program on her way to a world title at just 16 years of age, joining Michelle Kwan and Tara Lipinski as U.S. teenage world champions.

Meissner landed seven triple jumps in her free program, including a pair of triple-triple combinations.

“I am so happy with myself; it’s an awesome feeling,” said

Meissner, who had placed sixth at the Torino Olympics a few weeks earlier.

“I really wanted to do my best at the last competition of the season – smooth sailing right through my program.”

Fumie Suguri won the silver medal, becoming the first Japanese skater to win three medals at the world championships, adding to the back-to-back bronzes she won in 2002 and 2003. American champion Sasha Cohen, who many considered the favourite in Calgary, struggled but still managed to take home the bronze.

Montreal’s Joannie Rochette finished seventh.

Just a month after having to withdraw from the Olympics, Marie France Dubreuil and Patrice Lauzon captivated the Calgary crowd on home soil to win ice dance silver. In Torino, Dubreuil had a scary fall on a rotational lift near the end of their original dance, ending their Olympic dream and leaving their worlds appearance in doubt.

They came, and they delivered. With Dubreuil still injured, the duo brought down the Saddledome house and finished a mere 0.45 of a point behind Bulgaria’s Albena Denkova and Maxim Staviski for gold. Olympic silver medallists Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto of the U.S. finished in third spot.

”It was a long journey and there were a lot of emotions tonight,” said Lauzon after the free dance. ”There was a lot of pressure, but we did it great and we were very strong.”

”I can’t tell you how much it means,” added Dubreuil. ”Four weeks ago, I was in a wheelchair and far from thinking I could be that strong here.

”When I came here, even at the beginning of the week, I was doing all I could to show I wasn’t limping, even a little bit.”

Chinese skaters held down the top two podium positions in the pairs event. After just missing the podium in Torino, Pang Qing and Tong Jian won gold in Calgary, followed by compatriots Zhang Dan and Zhang Hao and Russia’s Maria Petrova and Alexei Tikhonov.

The ISU World Figure Skating Championships would return to Canada for the tenth time in 2013, when London, Ontario hosted the sport’s crown jewel event.

Day tickets for the ISU World Figure Skating Championships ® 2020 are on sale now and can be purchased online at montreal2020.com, by phone at 1-855-310-2525 or in person at the Centre Bell Box Office.

2006 WORLD FIGURE SKATING CHAMPIONSHIPS MEDALLISTS

DISCIPLINE GOLDSILVERBRONZE
MenStéphane Lambiel (SUI)Brian Joubert (FRA)Evan Lysacek (USA)
LadiesKimmie Meissner (USA)Fumie Suguri (JPN)Sasha Cohen (USA)
PairsPang Qing / Tong Jian (JPN)Zhang Dan / Zhang Hao (JPN)Maria Petrova / Alexei Tikhonov (RUS)
Ice DanceAlbena Denkova / Maxim Staviski (BUL)Marie-France Dubreuil / Patrice Lauzon (CAN)Margarita Drobiazko / Povilas Vanagas (LIT)