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Canada's Roman Sadovsky reflects on Sochi Olympic figure skaters at Rostelecom Cup

When Roman Sadovsky entered Sochi's famous Iceberg Skating Palace earlier this week, he thought about the many skaters who'd walked the same path before him.

When Roman Sadovsky entered Sochi's famous Iceberg Skating Palace earlier this week, he thought about the many skaters who'd walked the same path before him.

The Iceberg was the venue for the 2014 Sochi Olympics, where Canadian stars such as Patrick Chan and Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir had climbed the medal podium.

"Holy moly," he posted on his Instagram page, alongside a photo of the gleaming, blue-tiled venue.

"It's such a nice facility, really nice, and Olympic Park in general," Sadovsky said Thursday. "It's really cool, my whole perspective from the 2014 Olympics from (watching) TV, and then I'm walking through the building, I'm trying to imagine it from their perspective. It's been kind of cool."

The 22-year-old from Toronto, who's competing at the Rostelecom Cup this week in Sochi, hopes to create his own Olympic perspective come February in Beijing. 

At Germany's Nebelhorn Trophy event in September, Sadovsky snared a second Olympic men's singles berth for Beijing with his eighth-place finish. He isn't guaranteed one of those spots however — they'll be decided at the Olympic trials in January in Ottawa. But Sadovsky is proud that his performance doubled the chances for top Canadians such as Keegan Messing, Nam Nguyen — and himself — to punch a ticket to China. 

"It was a really different experience, I've never had the experience (of skating potentially for someone else), every other time it was for myself," he said of the Nebelhorn Trophy. "I was honestly very well-prepared. I thought I was in a really good place. But once that music started, that's when I really started to feel like OK, the expectation was really big. 

"I'm really happy that I was actually able to get that spot. I'm sure I'd really be kicking myself if I didn’t."

The world championships normally determine the number of Olympic berths each country gets, but COVID-19 prevented some countries from sending full teams to Stockholm for the worlds last spring, and so extra opportunities were added.  

The pandemic was particularly hard for Canadian athletes, who were grounded for months by border restrictions and lockdowns. Skaters faced long arena closures. Prior to the World Team Trophy last April in Japan, Sadovsky's only competition had been the virtual Skate Canada Challenge. 

He won the men's singles title in the unusual pre-recorded event that had skaters perform their program in their empty home rinks. Video of the programs was then broadcast much like any skating program, except several weeks later. Judges scored the programs as they were broadcast. 

Sadovsky watched the odd event play out in his basement apartment of his parents' house. 

"It definitely would've been nice to have a more normal season last year, and to have some more opportunities," Sadovsky said. "But it still gave us a lot of time to train and just hone in on the details. Now, it's just putting it out in competition, which we haven't done in a while. But I'm slowly starting to get back into the groove. 

"And honestly, I'm just pleased that we have these opportunities now."

Sadovsky's other passion — producing videos in his mini basement studio — has been a welcome mental diversion against the pressure of the looming Olympics amid the pandemic. Sadovsky, whose YouTube channel "Romsky" has more than 20,000 followers, produced a music video earlier this month for singer Toy Noah.

"A lot of even the skating stuff that I post, I'm not posting as often, just this year in general was very busy with all like the social buzz and whatnot, and it was definitely a time to kind of get away and do other stuff," Sadovsky said. "No matter what, the skating buzz is always going be there on social media, so it's definitely nice to have some distractions."

Canada has four entries in the Rostelecom Cup, the last of six ISU Grand Prix events. Sadovsky is the lone Canadian in men's singles. He's joined by Madeline Schizas in women's singles, Laurence Fournier Beaudry and Nikolaj Sorensen in ice dance, and pairs team Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro.

Competition is Friday and Saturday. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 25, 2021.

Lori Ewing, The Canadian Press