World Figure Skating Championships | “We deserve to be here,” says Nikolaj Sorensen

Figure skaters Nikolaj Sorensen and Laurence Fournier-Beaudry made their first media outing on Wednesday since allegations of sexual assault weighed on the Canadian of Danish origin. Sorensen once again proclaims his innocence in the matter and believes that, even if the situation is delicate, he and his partner have earned the right to participate in the World Championships which will be presented in Montreal next week.

“We are here because we deserve to be. We had to take a step back during the Nationals and it was a very difficult decision to make,” explained Sorensen at the Bell Centre, at the end of their training on the Canadiens’ ice rink.

On January 4, the USA Today published a text to the effect that a former American skater, whose identity is still unknown, was at the origin of an investigation initiated by the Office of the Commissioner for Integrity in Sport (BCIS).

The now 35-year-old skater allegedly forced the alleged victim to have non-consensual sex at a party in Connecticut in April 2012. “I feared for my life. (…) He raped me,” the complainant said in her testimony.

These allegations forced the Canadian duo to skip the National Championships presented on January 8 in Calgary. “While we do not wish to withdraw, we believe that our participation could be disruptive, and that sportsmanship must continue to be at the heart of the event,” the duo wrote in a statement posted on Instagram on January 9 .

However, two months later, the couple will participate in the World Championships starting March 18. A decision which contrasts in a certain way with the speech given at the dawn of the Nationals.

“It has been extremely difficult for us personally and emotionally to see all this come out. We were simply not in a condition to compete,” said Sorensen, who is also in a relationship with his partner Laurence Fournier-Beaudry.

The pair therefore say they are ready to skate again, even if their situation will undoubtedly monopolize attention until the end of the competition. At least, that was the case during the media availability on Wednesday morning.


Laurence Fournier-Beaudry and Nikolaj Sorensen

“There will be people who will support us and others who will not. And that’s okay and normal. I have remained discreet, because I am not in a position to talk about it. I trust the authorities put in place and I respect 100% the way it is supposed to happen and I believe that the truth will triumph,” continued the skater.

Sorensen’s speech has not changed. Despite the allegations, he still maintains his innocence: “As I wrote on Instagram, I deny the allegations and I will do my best to defend myself and get out of this situation in the best possible way. When it comes out in the media, the damage is already done. I think that was the intention more than anything else. »

In the eye of his partner

If all eyes were on her companion, Laurence Fournier-Beaudry must also try to skate while assuming that these allegations taint part of her reputation and the potential results that the duo could obtain.

At the last Worlds, they obtained fifth place. Their goal is to get on the podium in Montreal.

In front of the media, she wanted to stand behind her lover. “It was difficult at the time, it’s quite a challenge, but I support Nik 100%. We are both in favor of a sport without abuse,” she said before being interrupted by Sorensen.

“I think she minimizes a little of what she experienced. It was extremely difficult to overcome all this. Just being here today, showing up alongside me. »

Let justice be done

Marjorie Lajoie and Zachary Lagha train daily with the Sorensen/Fournier-Beaudry duo in the Saint-Henri district. They also compete in the same category.


Marjorie Lajoie and Zachary Lagha

The context is particularly delicate, especially for Lajoie. The 23-year-old skater is studying sexual health with the intention of continuing her career in sexology and psychology.

“It’s certainly a subject that touches me enormously. And I’m going out there to make changes and help everyone who’s going through situations like that. (…) We think a lot about the victims, not just about this victim, but about all victims in general. »

The fact remains that even though the situation is “disappointing” and “sad”, as Lagha pointed out, they have no control over the identity of the skaters present at the Worlds. So the best they can do is skate.

“It’s complicated,” Lagha continued. I’ve been training with Nik for a really long time and I’ve never seen this side of him. So I don’t know what to say. We train and focus on our skating.

For his part, Paul Poirier, Piper Gilles’ teammate, wants this entire matter to be “completely investigated”.


Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier

Without taking white gloves, he was the skater who most emphasized the importance of a reliable process and a feeling of compassion towards the alleged victim.

“An investigation needs to be put in place for this to go well. I hope they will put in the time and energy necessary to have a clear verdict. »

Then, about the complainant: “She went through something very difficult. We don’t know exactly how everything works, but we want there to be justice in the end. »


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