KITCHENER, Ontario -- The gold medal in the men's competition of Skate Canada could be decided on a perfectly executed triple axle.
Skate Canada, the country's only international figure skating championship, begins Thursday with 13 countries, including the Soviet Union, the United States and Britain, competing for top honors.
Brian Orser of Canada, ranked fourth in the world and a two-time national champion, is favored in the men's side. His closest competitor, American Brian Boitano, has completed a triple axle only in practise while the 20-year-old native of Penetang has executed the maneuver in competition several times.
'I feel comfortable with the top ranking and do not feel any extra pressure,' said Orser, having just returned from England where he finished first in the St. Ivel ice competition.
'I just came off a great fin9qh%in England and am looking forward to Skate Canada. It's hard to feel comfortable in Europe. Here, the people respect your skating and that makes me feel more comfortable.'
Boitano, 19, of California and West Germany's Heiko Fischer are expected to be strong finishers behind Orser in the three-day event.
Reiging world champion Rosalynn Somners, 17, of Seattle Wash., is a top contender in the women's competition. Her closest rival will be 17-year-old Kristina Wegelius of Finland.
Somners is also ranked sixth in the world and two weeks ago won the gold medal in the Skate America competition.
The Canadian women competitors include 17-year-old Diane Ogibowski of Minnedosa, Manitoba, ranked fourth in Canada, and 15-year-old Monica Lipson of Toronto, reigning Canadian junior champion.
American silver medalist in the 1980 Olympics, Vikki De Vries, will also compete.
Tracy Wilson of Port Moody, British Columbia, and Robert McCall of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, ranked 10th in the world in the ice dance and bronze medalists in Skate America, will be competing in their specialty.
Wilson and McCall will have to fend of challenges from Renee Rocal and Donald Adair of the United States, and Wendy Sessions and Stephen Williams of Britian to claim the gold medal.