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National title sees Newmarket figure skater making name for herself

Fiona Bombardier, the daughter of Olympian skater Josée Chouinard, is setting her own path to success after a podium finish in the senior women's division
Newmarket figure skater Fiona Bombardier earned bronze at the 2023 Canadian nationals this month.

Newmarket figure skater Fiona Bombardier took some time to reflect after her performance at nationals.

Coming home with a bronze medal for her first time at the senior level of the competition, the 17-year-old said she found herself in a different position in the skating world.

“I remember when I was looking up at people at the level, and now I’m one of them,” she said. “I had little girls coming up, and little boys as well coming up to me, asking to take a picture after ... I guess I’m really a senior now.”

Bombardier earned a bronze in the senior women’s competition at the 2023 Canadian Tire National Skating Championships in Oshawa Jan. 15, coming in third in both the short and free programs with a total score of 180.54. 

The result comes after years of effort and competition, which has seen Bombardier be a decorated junior skater. 

“I learned a lot about myself at nationals,” she said. “I had some rough practices before competing, but I didn’t let that affect me in competition.”

The Grade 12 student got her start with the Newmarket Skating Club at a young age, with her parents taking her out to try. She said it became something she fell in love with and her passion for it was more than for other sports. 

“I never wanted to miss skating,” she said. “When I was put into competitions when I was little, I had that drive.” 

She had someone that could be a role model in her household. Her mother is Josée Chouinard, a three-time national champion and two-time Olympian. 

But that family pedigree was not something that hung over Bombardier, she said.

“I wouldn't say it's much different compared to people that don’t have figure skating parents,” she said. “She didn’t tell me or force me to skate, she was just there to support me.”

The Newmarket Skating Club was her skating home for several years, but Bombardier said she moved with her coach to the Richmond Training Centre around five years ago. There, she eventually switched to her current coach Ken Rose as a way to mix things up and challenge herself.

“Our first impression of Fiona when she first came here was she was incredibly athletically gifted,” Rose said. “She had springs in her feet from the time we saw her.” 

Bombardier had a decorated run leading into her latest competition, which included a silver medal at 2022 nationals in the junior division. She also finished first in the Skate Canada Challenge in the senior women's division in December.

It has been rewarding to see her reach the top, Rose said.

“When you work with an athlete as long as we’ve worked with Fiona, you experience it. All the ups and downs, the good, the bad,” he said. “Seeing her kind of really embrace the moment last week and rise to the occasion the way she did it, was really special.”

The skater still has her sights set higher, toward the Olympics. There could also be a chance for the national team to come, with the next roster to be announced around June.

She expressed appreciation for all the coaches and staff at the Richmond Training Centre for their support over the years. 

As for a message to younger skaters, Bombardier said they should dream big.

“Everything is possible no matter how old you are,” she said. “Come to the rink every day trying to achieve something new, and train hard.”