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Q&A: Gabrielle Daleman, the Olympic figure skater who’s poised for a breakout year

By Toronto Life| Photography by Stephan Potopnyk/Skate Canada
Q&A: Gabrielle Daleman, the Olympic figure skater who's poised for a breakout year

While most of the country is fixated on Tessa and Scott, 20-year-old Newmarket native Gabrielle Daleman, a solo figure skater, is busy putting in a solid performance in Pyeongchang. Her score in the team skate locked down the gold for Canada, making her a medallist along with the rest of the national figure skating crew. And she’s seventh in the singles competition heading into tomorrow’s free skate, putting her a few spots behind her teammate Kaetlyn Osmond. Before the games, we asked Daleman about her status as Team Canada’s resident youngster, her crazy training schedule and her current Netflix obsessions.

You were only 16 at the 2014 Olympics. What was it like being the youngest Team Canada member that year? It was a weird feeling, but at the beginning no one really knew I was the youngest. When you’re in hair and makeup all the time, no one can tell. It was cool being able to see everything, but I was there mostly for the experience and getting used to the environment.

Four years later, what’s changed? I’m definitely way more prepared these games. I know what to expect, what to do and what not to do. I also know how to stay in my “bubble” more, and sneak away from all the distractions.

How many hours are you on the ice a day? Most days I spend two to two-and-a-half hours on the ice. Then, I’ll have off-ice training with my dad for another hour or two. That part usually depends on how tired I feel—whether we do longer or shorter runs, how much core work, stuff like that.

Besides competing, is there anything you’re looking forward to doing in Korea? I’m really looking forward to having my brother there. I have two best friends: my brother and my boyfriend. My dad and I are very close as well, but my brother and I are joined at the hip. I’m very excited to go see some events with him, or do some sightseeing.

What’s your favourite trick to perform? I just love jumping to be honest. I love the speed going into it, the height in the air, and when you get that perfect landing it’s the best feeling.

I guess you can’t really think about falling. I used to a bit, but at the end of the day you have to block it out.

Do you still get nervous before competitions? Yes, I still get nervous—I think everyone does. But my coaches and I have rituals that we do to stay calm. They keep me in my zone. We’ll play Jenga sometimes, or I’ll grab my coaches’ hands and do deep breathing exercises. What’s your favourite workout aside from skating? As weird as it sounds, I actually really enjoy cardio. My dad likes that I enjoy it, but some people are like, “Why?” There’s just something about it. I find it way more fun running outside than on a treadmill, but I face my treadmill in our basement home gym toward the TV so I can watch whatever Netflix show I want.

Are you binging anything right now? I just finished re-watching Kim Possible, no joke. It brings back so many childhood memories. My brother and I also binge-watch Friends together. Ross and Rachel took so long to get back together! The show just never gets old. I’ve watched it six or seven times now. What’s your favourite pump-up song? There’s a group called Little Mix from the UK. Their songs right now are so great. There’s one called “Shoutout to my Ex,” and another one called “Power,” and they’ve been my jams for the past few weeks. If a song is working for me, no matter how sick I am of having it on repeat for the fourth day in a row, I will keep listening to it.

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Do you get a break after the Olympics? It depends how everything goes.

What actually happens to all the stuff that gets thrown at you on the ice? I’ll pick one or two toys that are very meaningful to me and keep them. Most of the time I give the haul to an animal shelter, SickKids or a senior’s home. I always give them away, and I’ll write a little note on them saying, “I hope you have a great day,” or, “Remember you’re always loved.” I have two puppies now, also, so I’ll save one or two for me and give one or two to them. They’ll usually destroy them within ten minutes and I’m like, well, that was useless.

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