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Everything They've Got

Local skater Michael Coreno and ice dance partner Allie Hann-McCurdy are going all in.

The 2008 Canadian senior ice dance bronze medalists have travelled all over the world competing this past year. They have even switched coaches and moved across the continent following a sixth-place finish in 2009, all in preparation for this week's Canadian Figure Skating Championships in London.

With the Olympics on the horizon, who will grab the second spot on Team Canada will very much hinge on this weekend's event and Coreno and Hann-Mc- Curdy are confident in the fact they have held nothing back.

"Allie and I have been through quite a bit, but definitely this year, we really did as much as we could in terms of training both physically (and) mentally," Coreno said.

"Its one of those years where, it is the Olympic season, you want to throw everything at it -- you include the kitchen sink in this one. It's for yourself, and it's for your career to know you've tried everything."

Coreno, a Delhi native, and Hann-McCurdy of Orleans, Ont., had been training in Vancouver for three years as one of the only teams in the province. This past spring, the pair got the chance to move to Detroit to train under a new set of coaches -- alongside the world's top ranked American team and Canadian favourites Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir.

"These guys are pushing the boundaries -- the other competitors are setting limits -- and you want a piece of that, you want to be around that and last year we had a chance," Coreno, 25, explained. "We had a chance to say, 'We can do that, we can go to a place like this and we can see this in action -- we can be with the coaches that are setting the pace.' So we took it."

Now Coreno is able to compete against the best in the country just a short drive from his hometown. It's the perfect situation, he says.

"You can't wish for anything better. We were in Vancouver for about three years, and it was tough to come back home and see family. This year was the first year in four years we were home for Christmas and it was amazing," he said. "Now with nationals being in couldn't have worked it better."

The senior compulsory dance event goes tonight at the John Labatt Centre starting at 6 p.m. The original dance-- which has a folk theme -- will be tomorrow night and the final free skate is Saturday. Coreno and Hann- McCurdy will perform an Italian Folk Dance to Tarantella Siciliana in the free dance routine. Hann-McCurdy said that every last detail of their performance is at its peak.

"Our skating skills I believe are stronger than they've ever been, and we just worked on the commitment," she said. "Each moment of our programs, each moment of our skating, we've never let the focus and the performance drop. From the beginning to the end, it's constantly 'go' and that's the big thing that we picked up from coming (to Detroit)."

Upon arriving to skate with the likes of Virtue and Moir -- who are expected to win handily this week -- McCurdy was surprised at how they and the top American tandem of Meryl Davis and Charlie White prepared on a daily basis.

"It's surprising because I thought it wouldn't have been this way, but they're not afraid to fail in practice -- they're not afraid to make mistakes and learn from them and that's something that Mike and I thought was really cool when we came here because we saw them inventing new lifts and new spins and just being creative," Hann-McCurdy said. "The way they handled it when things didn't go well in practice was as much of a learning experience as watching them be successful in competitions."

Team Canada is expected to make its Olympic decision shortly following the national championships.

Coreno and Hann-McCurdy did more off-ice training than ever preparing for the opportunity to show the country they're up to the challenge.

"This year has been all about getting better and trying to show everybody how much we've improved, and this whole season, it's been, 'I don't want to get too far ahead of myself,"" said Coreno.

"I have a job to do first and that's been the main action. We have to be better than the other teams in every single aspect of the sport in order to beat them and that's what we've been trying to do."


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