Wallace skater enjoying success; competing at world championships in Los Angeles
TRURO - Frustrated and dejected, John Mattatall and his figure skating pairs partner Mylene Brodeur were ready to call it quits.
This time last year the Wallace native and his partner were fresh off a seventh-place finish at the Canadian figure skating championships and a season which fell far short of their goals.
"I was 25 at the time and thought 'well it was fun, but maybe it's time to get on with life,'" Mattatall said from Ste. Leonard, Que. where he lives and trains.
It's a good thing they stuck with it.
The pair is now in the thick of their deepest season ever and will compete at the International Skating Union (ISU) world championships at Staples Centre in Los Angeles March 22 to 29.
"To come back with a season like this is incredible," Mattatall said.
The pair qualified for the world event with a bronze-medal finish at the 2009 national championships in Saskatoon in mid-January behind the Quebec pairs of Bryce Davison and Jessica Dube (first) and Craig Buntin and Meagan Duhamel (second).
The pair arrives in Los Angeles Saturday and has two days of practice before hitting the ice for the pairs short program on Tuesday. They will then compete in the long program Wednesday, followed by a few days of sightseeing before returning home March 28.
The season has renewed their enthusiasm and with two months to prepare, Mattatall and Brodeur feel they're at the top of their game.
"Training has gone really well and our program is as good as we can ask," Mattatall said. "We've done our homework and prepared
The pair started skating together in 2006 and now seem to be coming into their own, something judges have been noticing and which has been a significant factor in their strong season.
Their skating skills are now being complimented by the development of their personal style, which judges have been giving them increased marks for at competitions.
"We've kind of developed more of our own style and getting higher and higher marks for it," Mattatall said. "We're really in sync now and more like a pairs team."
Truro and Tatamagouche Figure Skating Club coach Annette Hiltz, who coached Mattatall as a youngster in Tatamagouche and still speaks regularly with him, said she isn't surprised the two skaters stuck with it.
"No, not at all," Hiltz said. "Deep inside he and Mylene still felt there was a lot they could do. They just needed a mental break.
"He's not a quitter. I think they were disappointed things didn't turn out like they wanted but that's sports. You just have to pick yourself up and dust yourself off and keep going."
Hiltz said Mattatall's no-quit attitude has taken him a long way in the sport.
"He has a great work ethic," she said. "I can't say anything bad about him. He's amazing."
Now, Mattatall is about to take the ice in the most important, and toughest, competition he's ever skated in. The world event is even tougher than the Olympics in the fact that teams with skaters from different countries can compete together. At the Olympics, pairs skaters must be of the same nationality to compete together.
"The Olympics is the pinnacle but as for the strength and depth of the field, worlds is definitely as big as it gets," Mattatall said.