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Saturday, November 29, 2014

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Going for gold in Sochi

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Dylan Moscovitch and Kirsten Moore-Towers skate at the national championships. [Danielle Earl photo]

Dylan Moscovitch knew he wanted to compete in the Olympics from the time he was a little kid.

“My mom said when I was five, someone asked me if I wanted to go to the Olympics, and I said, ‘No, I want to win the Olympics.’ It’s been at the forefront of my mind my entire life,” Moscovitch said.

Now, the Waterloo-based Toronto native is fulfilling that dream, having arrived in Russia to compete in the Sochi Olympic Winter Games with figure skating pairs partner Kirsten Moore-Towers.

He said he’s going to use his past competition experiences as strength and fuel to bring himself to a whole new level. As the only Jewish figure skater on the Olympic team, and perhaps the only Jew competing for Canada, he’ll be doing his best to win the competition that he called the “pinnacle goal” of figure skating.

“I’m definitely proud to be representing my country, Canada, and also to be representing Jewish Canadians,” he said. “It’s an honour to be representing the community, and I hope to make everyone proud.”

Moscovitch, who began skating as a toddler, said he’s been experiencing a big wave of emotions ever since he heard the news that he’d be competing.

“[It’s] very exciting and surreal, a little overwhelming,” he said. “It’s been my dream. It’s been what I’ve been working for my entire life, so to know all those hours and sacrifices and finances and time… it all came to fruition.”

The team was fairly confident they would be chosen even before it was made official. They placed second in January at the national championships in Ottawa, and came in fourth overall at the 2013 world championships, which Moscovitch said is the highest level apart from the Olympics.

With the goal of getting to Sochi, the team has been on a rigorous training schedule, with skating practice six days a week and daily training both on and off the ice ranging from 3-1/2 to six hours a day.

Moscovitch said he’s not nervous about terrorism, despite concerns some have expressed since an Islamic militant group claimed responsibility for two recent suicide bombings in Volgograd and threatened via video to strike Sochi during the Olympic Games, and the fact that security officials have been hunting for three potential suicide bombers, including one they believe may already be stationed in Sochi.

“The way I see it, is the Olympics draw in the top winter athletes from around the world, and the host country brings in the best of the best to protect us,” he said. “That’s their job, and they’re going to do absolutely everything possible to keep us safe. And I think they will do a good job at that.”

He said all Olympics have their threats no matter where they’re hosted, although he admitted some places have more serious threats than others. But that’s not going to stop him from competing.

“I’m not going to be naive about it, but at the same time, I won’t spend time worrying about it. I’m going there to do a job,” he said.

He said the hardest part of competing is staying in the moment.

“No matter how trained you are, when you go to step foot on the ice and they call your name, anything can happen,” he said. “With that much pressure and excitement and adrenaline, your mind can go in any direction.”

To overcome that challenge, Moscovitch is treating the Olympics like any other competition.

“I hope I can bask in the Olympic energy and feeling before and after [the routine],” he said. “If there’s a little bit of added Olympic energy, that’s great and I’ll use that, but I don’t want it to feel very different [from] anything I’ve done in my career.”

Listen to Dylan Moscovitch's interview with The CJN's Cara Stern.

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