Pelletier achieved early success as a pair skater with Julie Laporte. They won both the novice and junior titles at the Canadian Figure Skating Championships and placed 7th at the World Junior Figure Skating Championships in 1992. Despite these accomplishments, Pelletier felt his career needed a "shake up" and paired up with Allison Gaylor. They trained in part with Isabelle Brasseur and Lloyd Eisler, and had their biggest success in 1995 when they captured the 1995 Canadian silver medal and represented Canada at the World Figure Skating Championships in Birmingham, England where they placed 15th. That same year, as a single skater, Pelletier placed second in the short program of the men's event at the Canadian championships. He struggled in the long program, falling to fourth overall.
After failing to reach the podium the next two years, Pelletier and Gaylor split and Pelletier paired up with young singles skater Caroline Roy. Just before the 1998 Canadian championships, Pelletier's former partner Julie Laporte was killed in a car accident. Pelletier and Roy had a strong skate, but placed 6th and split soon after the event.
Skating with Jamie SaléEdit
David asked coach Richard Gaulthier to help him find another partner, and he suggested Salé. They traveled to Edmonton in February 1998 to try out with Salé again. "The first time we grabbed hands, it was just great," said Pelletier, and by the next month Salé had moved to Montreal to skate with him.
The Canadian Figure Skating Association invited the pair to compete at Skate Canada, where they immediately made a statement by placing second in the short program, ahead of reigning Canadian Champions Kristy Sargeant and Kris Wirtz, and third in the long program to win the bronze medal. Because of their success, they were invited to the NHK Trophy in Japan and brought home another bronze medal.
Their fall successes made them favorites for the Canadian title, but they struggled technically and finished second. The silver medal earned them a spot on the Four Continents and World teams, but Pelletier's back pain forced the pair to withdraw from both competitions. They would ultimately spend two months off the ice recuperating.
In the summer of 1999, Gaulthier enlisted the help of Lori Nichol, a Canadian choreographer, to choreograph Sale & Pelletier's programs for the upcoming season. Nichol created a tango piece for their short program, and, after a suggestion from coach Marijane Stong, set their long program to music from the movie (Where Do I Begin?) Love Story.
The programs got off to a good start. At the 1999 Skate America, Sale & Pelletier won both the short and the long programs, defeating the two-time and reigning world champions, Yelena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze. At the Nations Cup, their second Grand Prix event, they finished second. However, at the Grand Prix Final, they made several errors in both programs and finished fifth.
They competed at the 2000 Canadian Figure Skating Championships in Calgary, Salé's hometown. The two skated a strong short program and a nearly flawless long program, earning five 6.0 marks in presentation - the first for a pair at the championships. Sale & Pelletier captured another 6.0 and the gold medal at the Four Continents Championships in Osaka, Japan.
Up next were the 2000 World Figure Skating Championships in Nice, France. They were third after the short program due to an error in a spin. They dropped in the long program, finishing fourth overall.
Gold, gold, goldEdit
Salé and Pelletier returned to Lori Nichol for their 2000-01 programs. She choreographed a jazzy short to "Come Rain or Come Shine" and a dramatic, mature long to Wagner's opera "Tristan und Isolde." They returned to Skate America and Skate Canada that fall, winning both over Shen/Zhao and Berezhnaia/Sikharulidze, respectively. Berezhnaia/Sikharulidze then narrowly defeated them at Trophee Lalique.
The pair was again a great hit at the 2001 Canadian Championships in Winnipeg, but did not earn the string of 6.0s that "Love Story" had brought them the previous year. They went on to win again at Four Continents in Salt Lake City, the site for the 2002 Olympics, and dusted off "Love Story" to win the Grand Prix Final - despite Sale missing the side by side triple toe loop in all three phases of the competition.
The 2001 World Championships were held in Vancouver, and Salé and Pelletier entered as heavy favorites. Trouble on the side by side jumps landed them in third place in the short program, but the team was able to skate a nearly flawless long program (Salé singled a side by side double axel) to capture the title. They were the first Canadian pair to win Worlds since Isabelle Brasseur and Lloyd Eisler in 1993, and the first pair to win at a Worlds held in Canada since Barbara Underhill and Paul Martini in 1984. They would later win the Lou Marsh Trophy as outstanding Canadian athlete in 2001.
Salé and Pelletier again demonstrated early success in the 2001-02 season, winning both Skate America and Skate Canada with their new long program to "Adiago Sostenuno" by Rachmaninoff, nicknamed "Orchid" for its flower theme. Perhaps more importantly, they demonstrated technical consistency in both competitions.
The Grand Prix Final, held in Kitchener, Ontario, was important because it was the only chance to test their programs against the top contenders before the Olympics. Despite a rough performance of "Orchid" in the first long program, Salé and Pelletier once again won skating a flawless performance of "Love Story" for their second long program. They headed into the 2002 Canadian Championships in Hamilton, Ontario with confidence, having defeated Berezhnaia and Sikharulidze, their biggest rivals. They were able to win the title despite a badly flawed long program, and the performance increased talks that they would revert to "Love Story" for the Olympic Games.
The pressure for the Olympics was intense. Despite several silvers and bronzes, Canada had only won two gold medals in figure skating, in 1948 and 1960. All eyes were on Salé and Pelletier to break the streak and win, overcoming the Russian pairs dominance that had lasted for 40 years. They skated a clean short program, only to trip and fall on their closing pose. Because the fall was not on an element, it did not receive a deduction, but it marred the program enough to land the pair in second place behind Berezhnaia and Sikharulidze. It was anyone's game in the long program - winner takes all.
Skating after the Russians, Salé and Pelletier delivered a stunning performance to "Love Story" and captured the audience and commentators alike. A minor jump step out error from Sikharulidze and a clean program from the Canadians had many convinced of the results: Canada was finally golden.
It was not yet to be, because when the judges' scores came up, Salé and Pelletier had been placed second in the long program. Five judges had awarded the long program to Berezhnaya and Sikharulidze, and only four to Salé and Pelletier. This result spurred an outcry from the North American media and booing from many audience members, but Salé and Pelletier accepted the silver medal. After the competition, the French judge Marie-Reine Le Gougne admitted she had been pressured into awarding the long program to the Russians in exchange for a first-place vote for the French ice dancing team of Marina Anissina and Gwendal Peizerat, and a judging controversy quickly blew up. The scandal ultimately resulted in the suspension of several judges and officials. The results of the competition were discarded and Salé and Pelletier were awarded a second set of gold medals in a special ceremony later in the week.
The controversy resulted in several changes to the judging system after Salt Lake City. First anonymous judging was incorporated to "relieve outside pressure" from judges by separating their names from their marks so pressurers could not assert whether the judge had acted as they wished or not. The ISU Judging System, based on a Code of Points rather than a 6.0 scale, was adopted for use in the Grand Prix season of 2003-04, and for all 2004-05 competitions and thereafter.
Since Salt Lake CityEdit
Pelletier proposed to Salé on Christmas Day of 2004 in front of his parents and Salé's mother. He sent her on a scavenger hunt through the house, and the final resting place of the Engagement ring was in the kitchen on one of their nutcrackers. The couple got married on December 30, 2005 at the Fairmont Banff Springs hotel in Alberta. In 2006, they served as commentators on Olympic Ice which aired on USA Network during the 2006 in Torino Italy. Pelletier and Salé welcomed their first child, a boy named Jesse Joe Pelletier, on September 30, 2007 at the Sturgeon Community Hospital and Health Centre in St. Albert, Alberta. Jesse weighed in at 7 lbs and measuring 19 inches. Salé and Pelletier were inducted into the Skate Canada Hall of Fame in 2008. They will be inducted into the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame on March 26, 2009.
Competitive results Edit
(with Jamie Salé)
|Winter Olympic Games||1st|
|Four Continents Championships||1st||1st|
|Canadian Figure Skating Championships||2nd||1st||1st||1st|
|Grand Prix Final||5th||1st||1st|
|Skate Canada International||3rd||1st||1st|
|Masters of Figure Skating||4th|
(with Caroline Roy)
|Canadian Figure Skating Championships||6th|
(with Allison Gaylor)
|Canadian Figure Skating Championships||8th||2nd||5th||6th|
(with Julie Laporte)
|World Junior Championships||5th||7th|
- World Team Challenge: 1st place (Team)
- Ice Wars: 2nd place (Team)
- Hallmark Skaters' Championship: 1st place
- Sears Canadian Open: 1st place
- Canadian Figure Skating Championships: 4th place
- 2001 - Winner of Lou Marsh Trophy as Canadian athlete of the year (with Jamie Salé)
- The Official Website of Jamie Salé and David Pelletier
- "Stars on Ice" Profile
- Pairs on Ice: Jamie Salé & David Pelletier
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