Phaneuf: 'I've done everything I wanted to'
Two-time Canadian champion hangs up skates with no regrets
By Lois Elfman, special to icenetwork.com
(09/26/2012) - "I want to try new stuff, and it's because of that I'm retiring," two-time Canadian ladies champion Cynthia Phaneuf told icenetwork.com Wednesday in a telephone interview shortly before making her official announcement at a press conference in Montreal.
Phaneuf, 24, seriously considered retiring from competitive skating once before. The year was 2006; felled by injury, she saw her dreams slipping away. Just two years earlier she had won the Canadian title in a huge upset, but her progress was stopped cold by knee and ankle injuries.
"I knew there was something else I could go get in figure skating that I didn't earn before," she said. "Now, it's different. I've done everything I wanted to, even more than I thought I would have done. I'm ready to move on."
Phaneuf had originally planned to retire from competition after the 2010 Olympic season, but when she followed up a strong 12th-place finish in Vancouver with fifth place at the 2010 World Championships, she decided to continue. She wanted to win a second Canadian title, which she did in 2011.
Last year, she decided to continue competing with an eye toward 2014, but the 2011-12 season proved full of disappointments. With painful problems, she had poor results at her two Grand Prix competitions: Skate Canada and NHK Trophy. Then, in November, she made an abrupt coaching change, leaving her longtime coaches in Montreal to train in Toronto with Brian Orser.
After placing second at the 2012 Canadian Championships, Phaneuf was given a second chance at earning a berth on the Canadian world team by outperforming Canadian champion Amélie Lacoste at the Four Continents championships, but Lacoste had the better placement.
In the early summer, Phaneuf was diagnosed with a stress fracture in her back.
"When I came back to Montreal from Toronto, it was kind of a relief," Phaneuf said. "I started physical therapy so I can go back on the ice, but when it was time for me to go back on the ice I wasn't really feeling like it. I had a lot of other plans. I wanted to try new stuff. I was looking forward to a new beginning of my life."
Part of that new beginning includes boyfriend Maxime Talbot, a hockey player with the Philadelphia Flyers. Due to the current NHL lockout, they are still in Montreal, but when the lockout is resolved Phaneuf plans to move with him to Philadelphia.
She is interested in going back to school. Phaneuf said her back feels great, so she's definitely up for doing some coaching. She's already talked to Isabelle Brasseur about working with some of Brasseur's students.
Two days before announcing her retirement, Phaneuf skated at a day-long seminar for young skaters from the North Bay Figure Skating Club. She greatly enjoyed it and said she hopes to do a lot more skating clinics. She may even start working with hockey players on skating skills.
For now, Phaneuf has a couple of contracts to skate in shows later this year and she is beginning to figure out how to execute various project ideas she has.
"I'm very busy, more than if I would have been skating," she said. "I have a few things I would like to try and to experiment. Now I have the chance to do new stuff, and I'm very excited about this."
Having listened to her inner voice that told her to persevere in 2006, she trusts her instincts now.
"One of the things I like about my career is I had a lot of ups and downs -- my ups were very high and I had very good moments," Phaneuf said. "For sure, the Olympics would be one of the best moments that I had. The 2010 year was amazing for me. Being able to go to Olympics and skating there and after that finishing fifth at the world championships.
"Then I was on tour with Stars on Ice. It was one of the best years I ever had in my life. I have so many good memories about this year.
"I don't regret anything," she added. "I'm very confident about my decision."