11/01/2014 11:54 EDT | Updated 01/01/2015 05:59 EST

Karin Larsen: What I learned at Skate Canada International

Here’s what I learned at Skate Canada International in Kelowna: 

- Kelowna loves skating and the skaters love Kelowna. The relationship goes back to 1999 when a junior figure skating event opened the shiny new arena on the shores of Okanagan Lake. The venue is the perfect size, intimate (configured at about 5000 seats) and was the subject of many rave reviews from the skaters. The surrounding scenery doesn’t hurt either.

- Allowing voices in pairs and singles music was the right decision IMO. Not only does it make the sport feel more hip, it allows for different possibilities artistically and emotionally. Duhamel/Radford skated to Muse! Javier Fernandez’s Black Betty brought down the house. Hard to see a downside although I’m told some in the sport are worried about the day when someone chooses music with lyrics someone else finds offensive.

- Takahito Mura of Japan has got game… And gloves. His Phantom of the Opera long program brought down the house. The one white glove/one black glove – which could have been cheesy – wasn’t. Instead it added just the right touch of the theatrical to a great technical performance. Mark him down as one to watch for the remainder of the season.

- There’s a lot of Japanese media here in Kelowna and they gave Mura a rousing ovation as he came through the media mix zone after winning the men’s title. Not the first time I’ve seen that but it still weirds me out. Different expectations of reporters in Japan I guess.

- Despite winning their first Grand Prix title by 26 points, Megan Duhamel and Eric Radford were a little angry at themselves after the pairs final. Megan said they had nailed every throw quad they attempted this week. So to have a slightly imperfect one in the long program was disappointing. Says her position in the air was too open, slowing the rotation speed which affected the landing. The precision and coordination that goes into such a tough trick is mind boggling. Their goal is to attempt the throw quad every chance they get so it becomes automatic in the big competitions.

- Megan’s mother reacted this way when told the pair had started working on the quad throw: ‘Well, that’s silly.”

- Note to programmers: I would watch the ‘Brian Orser Watching his Skaters Skate Channel’ and I’m pretty sure others would too. I’ve covered a lot of athletes and a lot of coaches. Never seen anything like it. Never seen a coach live every millisecond of the performance the way he does. It’s actually hard to keep your attention on the skater when Orser is contorting on the sidelines.

- Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier easily tallied the most hugs from coaches and friends backstage after they won their dance silver and Poje/Weaver won gold. 1-2 finish for Canada! But alas, no Canadian reporter ovation. Such a cold bunch.