Alaska figure skater Keegan Messing closes roller coaster of Olympics with season-best score, 11th overall finish

FastCast digital headline Feb. 11.
Published: Feb. 11, 2022 at 4:39 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - For Girdwood resident Keegan Messing, it was a win to skate for Canada in the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics at all.

The journey to the figure skater’s second Games began with a positive COVID-19 test result prior to Team Canada’s scheduled flight to Beijing (Messing’s mother is Canadian and has dual-citizenship).

Needing four negative tests before he was permitted to travel to Beijing, Messing had to watch the team event from a hotel room in Vancouver, which is an event would would have been participating in had he not tested positive. By Monday, Messing was cleared to fly to China, and arrived about 24 hours before his first performance. On short notice, the 30-year old impressed with a strong skate in the men’s short program, placing 9th out of 29 competitors.

“The journey here was crazy. I’m used to long trips but this takes the cake,” Messing told the Associated Press. “We went Vancouver, Montreal, Frankfurt, Milan to here. To start in Vancouver and go over the Atlantic Ocean instead of the Pacific, it definitely felt like we were going in the wrong direction. Keeping the mental health side of things strong was very, very difficult.”

After the scramble just to get to the Olympics, Messing had 48 hours to settle and recompose himself before the free skate program. Messing, in a nod to his Alaskan and Canadian roots, donned a red and black flannel shirt while skating to a season-best score of 172.37 for an 11th overall finish at the Olympics.

The gold medal went to USA’s Nathan Chen, the first American to win figure skating gold since 2010. At the 2018 Games, Messing placed 12th overall.

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