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Olympics-Chan heads powerful Canadian figure skating team for Sochi

Reuters

Jan 12 (Reuters) - Triple world champion Patrick Chan and reigning gold medallists Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir headline a power packed Canadian figure skating team for the Sochi Winter Games, that was named on Sunday.

With 17 skaters, Canada has qualified the largest figure skating team of any country: three men, two women, three sets of pairs and three sets of ice dance pairs.

Canada was also the top qualifying country for the team event, which will make its Olympic debut in Sochi.

"We're very excited about our figure skating team going into Sochi," Canadian Olympic Committee president Marcel Aubut in a statement.

"All of our skaters are very strong contenders and we have tremendous hope heading into the Games. Canada will cheer their skaters on as they compete in Russia to show the world why we are winter."

Chan, who claimed his seventh consecutive Canadian title at the National championships in Ottawa on Saturday, placed fifth at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics but is considered the likely gold medal favourite for Sochi.

Chan will be joined by Kevin Reynolds, fifth at last year's world championships, and Liam Firus.

Virtue and Moir warmed up for the defence of their Olympic ice dance crown by skating to their sixth national title, ahead of Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje and Alexandra Paul and Mitchell Islam, who also booked tickets to Sochi.

With only two Olympic berths available to the women, Kaetlyn Osmond secured her spot with a second national title while 15-year-old rising sensation Gabrielle Daleman grabbed the other.

The bid for a pairs medal will be spearheaded by world championship bronze medallists Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford, who won their third straight national title.

Kirsten Moore-Towers and Dylan Moscovitch, fourth at last year's world championships behind their team mates, also earned a ticket to Russia, along with Paige Lawrence and Rudi Swiegers.

Squad

Women Singles

Kaetlyn Osmond; Gabrielle Daleman

Men Singles

Patrick Chan; Kevin Reynolds; Liam Firus

Pairs

Meagan Duhamel/Eric Radford; Kirsten Moore-Towers/Dylan Moscovitch; Paige Lawrence/Rudi Swiegers

Ice Dance

Tessa Virtue/Scott Moir; Kaitlyn Weaver/Andrew Poje; Alexandra Paul/Mitchell Islam (Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto; editing by Julian Linden)

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