Deanna Stellato-Dudek with a victory, and journey, for the ages at figure skating worlds


MONTREAL – Deanna Stellato-Dudek is now one for the ages.

And for the aged — at least by the actuarial tables for figure skating careers.

And maybe even for a film script. After all, she has already has written two acts, one as a U.S. singles skater from suburban Chicago, the other who returned to the sport after a 16-year absence as a pairs’ skater now representing Canada.

“It’s a dream come true,” Stellato-Dudek had said English after opening by speaking French to the crowd in partner Maxime Deschamps’ native Quebec.

FIGURE SKATING WORLDS: Results | Broadcast Schedule

At age 40, Stellato-Dudek became the oldest woman to win a world title in any figure skating discipline when she and Deschamps took gold Thursday night at the Bell Centre.

She supplanted Ludowika Jakobsson in skating’s record books. Jakobsson won a pairs’ title for Finland in 1923 at age 38.

“Can I get a quote besides the record book?” Stellato-Dudek asked. “It would be, ’40 is the new 20.’

“It’s not something I set out to do when I came back to skating, but I knew if I were to accomplish my dreams, it (the age records) would inevitably occur because I’m the oldest everywhere. It’s something I carry with pride.”

The Canadians won by 221.56 to 217.88 over Japanese team Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara, the 2023 World champions, who took the free skate by .17. Minerva Fabienne Hase and Nikota Volodin of Germany were third.

“We are all bowing down to you,” Hase, 24, told Stellato-Dudek.

After making two small mistakes in the free skate, one her step out on a jump landing, an exhausted Stellato-Dudek asked Deschamps when they finished if they had been good. They were more than good enough, given the lead they had built with a flawless short program.

She did not feel well all day and put her partner and coaches through a “really hard time” while wondering if she could get through the free skate. Those doubts increased when their final warm-up was poor.

“She is a warrior,” Deschamps said. “For her, it’s the Olympics every day.”

Stellato-Dudek sang along with “O, Canada” during the awards ceremony and cried when Canada’s national anthem was ending. Those tears alone should guarantee her the Canadian citizenship she expects to get before the 2026 Winter Olympics.

“I’m doing all that I can do to make myself more attractive to Canada,” she said, laughing, after winning the short program Wednesday.

Persistent injuries and burnout had ended Stellato’s promising singles career at 17. She began working as an aesthetician and got married.

At age 33, she pulled her dusty old skates out of a dusty closet, haunted by a feeling of unfinished business. Not long after that, U.S. Figure Skating’s former high performance director, Mitch Moyer, saw her skating and suggested she try pairs.

She first teamed with 2014 U.S. Olympian Nathan Bartholomay. When Bartholomay left the sport because of injuries after the 2019 season, Stellato-Dudek did an extensive partner search that led her to Deschamps.

She and Deschamps first competed internationally two years later, struggling at times to make their styles mesh, even while winning the first of two Canadian national titles.

“If I could talk to my younger self, she would think I was crazy,” Stellato-Dudek said. “She was hoping to go to the 2006 Olympics so she would wonder why I am going for 2026.”

Stellato-Dudek has to do several hours of extra physical training a day to keep her body in shape for the rigors of pairs, which involves being lifted several feet off the ice and tossed several yards across the ice. The jumping part she already knew from singles.

“I hope what people get to see when they see me skating is that anything is possible if you have passion for something,” she said.

“It can transcend even beyond sports into your work life, or if you have another idea for a company or things like that. That’s what I really hope my story gives other people.”

Philip Hersh, who has covered figure skating at the last 12 Winter Olympics, is a special contributor to NBCSports.com.



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