Jamie Salé and David Pelletier | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Jamie Salé and David Pelletier

Jamie Salé, figure skater (born 21 April 1977 in Calgary, AB) and David Pelletier, figure skater (born 22 November 1974 in Sayabec, QC).
Salé and Pelletier
Jamie Salé and David Pelletier are one of Canada's most successful pairs teams, winning an Olympic gold medal at Salt Lake in 2002 (photo by Gerry Thomas).
Sale and Pelletier
On 11 Feb 2002 pairs figure skaters Jamie Salé and David Pelletier delivered a performance that would eventually win them a gold medal at the Salt Lake Olympics. It was Canada's first-ever gold medal in the event (courtesy Canadian Press Images).

Jamie Salé, figure skater (born 21 April 1977 in Calgary, AB) and David Pelletier, figure skater (born 22 November 1974 in Sayabec, QC). Together, Salé and Pelletier formed an outstanding pairs team at the end of the 1990s and into the 21st century.

Early Careers

From Red Deer, Alberta, Salé started skating at the age of five. She competed at the 1994 Lillehammer Olympics with former partner Jason Turner, and then switched from pairs competition to singles. From Sayabec, Québec, Pelletier started figure skating and playing ice hockey when he was three years old. Although he initially competed in both singles and pairs, he achieved his first international success in pairs, placing seventh with Julie Laporte at the 1992 World Junior Championships. Then, in 1995, he teamed with Allison Gaylor to place 15th in the World Championships. In 1998, he and Salé tried out together for the second time (the first time was in 1996), and decided that they had potential as a duo. In 2002, the couple made their home in Edmonton, working with coach Jan Ullmark and choreographer Lori Nichol.

International Success

Although the pair officially began competing in 1998, Salé developed tendonitis and required surgery, and the following year Pelletier sustained a back injury that kept them out of the 1999 World Championships. In their first competition as a pairs team, the 1998 Skate Canada competition, Pelletier and Salé placed third in a strong field, and in 1999 won the Skate America pairs event. The year 2000 produced wins for the attractive young pair in Skate Canada, Skate America and the ISU Four Continents event, and a fourth-place finish in the World Championships. In 2001, they won the ISU Four Continents, ISU Grand Prix Final, Skate Canada and finally the World Championships in Vancouver, where they captivated the audience with their near-perfect performances, highlighted by their spectacular throw triple loop. In 2001–02, after defeating the best in the world in Skate America, Skate Canada, and the ISU Grand Prix Final, Pelletier and Salé won their third consecutive Canadian championship in preparation for the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City.

Skategate and the 2002 Olympic Winter Games

Their gold medal performance at Salt Lake in 2002 was somewhat bittersweet. Dubbed "Skategate," the controversy surrounding their loss to the Russian pairs team, Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze, made headlines worldwide. In the days that followed, media exposure of a possible judging scandal in the pairs event raised Salé and Pelletier to superstar status and garnered them worldwide support. Four days after the pairs competition, the International Skating Union, pressured by the International Olympic Committee to act quickly, found the French judge, Marie-Reine le Gougne, guilty of fraudulent judging, an act that may have prevented Salé and Pelletier from winning the gold medal many felt they deserved. As a result, double gold medals were awarded to both pairs teams at a special ceremony held after the ice dancing competition. Shortly after being awarded their Olympic gold medals, Salé and Pelletier announced that because of the tumultuous events surrounding their Olympic performance they did not have the mental energy to prepare for another international event so quickly and would not defend their world title at Nagano, Japan, in March 2002. Nevertheless, they were praised for the grace with which they accepted the events following their performance and the sportsmanship they showed toward their fellow competitors, Berezhnaya and Sikharulidze.

Retirement from Competitive Skating

Following retirement, the pair toured with Stars on Ice and continued to be active in the sport as professionals and commentators at international skating events, such as the 2006 Olympics at Torino. In 2005 they married and in 2007 had their first child. They divorced in 2010.

In 2008, they were inducted into the Skate Canada Hall of Fame, and in 2009, they entered the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame. Their appeal as a pair derived from their youth, attractiveness, the manner in which they matched each other physically, and of course, the remarkable level of athleticism and skill that was demonstrated in their spectacular lifts and throws.