It wasn't their first competition since returning to action following injury, but the Nebelhorn Trophy in Oberstdorf, Germany, was their first big competition. Anabelle Langlois and Cody Hay, 2008 Canadian pair champions, have been slowly working their way back into competitive form since Langlois' broken right ankle derailed their 2008-09 season.
They'd done the Thornhill competition this summer and showed their programs at the national team training camp in Vancouver, but this was their first international since the 2008 world championships.
"It was definitely nice to get back out on the ice and get that feeling again," said Hay, 26, after the pair returned home to Canada with bronze medals.
"Stepping onto the ice with the world champions (Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy of Germany) and the Ukrainians (Tatiana Volosozhar and Stanislav Morozov), who are both really strong teams that we admire a lot, made it feel real," said Langlois, 28.
"I've been a lot more nervous," she admitted. "This is my new thing I've developed now since being injured. I've been getting a lot more nervous for events. I was pretty nervous for [Nebelhorn], but it felt great to be out there."
Langlois said her ankle has not been a problem. She wears a bit of padding in her boot. At team camp in Vancouver, the team doctor said the injury had healed well.
"I'm still working on building my confidence," Langlois said. "I can do everything and I have no more pain, but I did miss 14 months of being out there. That's the one thing why I think I have a lot more nerves."
Hay said the pair has received all positive feedback on its short program, but the consistent comments on the free skate have been that it needs a more powerful climax at the end. A throw triple Lutz is the third to last element and if Langlois doesn't land it the crescendo falls flat.
Both are pleased with their performances at Nebelhorn, despite the obvious room for improvement. Between now and Skate Canada in November, they'll be working on building consistency. Their coaches and choreographer have been slowly adding elements into the free skate, and now that Nebelhorn is done the next thing to add is the triple twist. They'll be doing an Oktoberfest competition at their home rink, the Mariposa School of Skating in Barrie, Ontario.