David Pelletier

David Jacques Pelletier (born November 22, 1974) is a Canadian pairs figure skater. With his former wife Jamie Salé, he was the co-gold medal winner at the 2002 Olympic Winter Games. They shared the gold medal with the Russian pair Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze after the 2002 Olympic Winter Games figure skating scandal.

David Pelletier
David Pelletier.jpg
Pelletier in 2015 coaching with the Edmonton Oilers
Personal information
Country represented Canada
Born (1974-11-22) November 22, 1974 (age 47)
Sayabec, Quebec, Canada
ResidenceEdmonton, Alberta, Canada
  • (m. 2005; div. 2010)
  • (m. 2020)
Height1.78 m (5 ft 10 in)
PartnerJamie Salé
Former partnerCaroline Roy, Julie Laporte, Allison Gaylor
Former coachJan Ullmark
Richard Gauthier
Former choreographerLori Nichol
Skating clubCPA Pierrefonds

Early life and careerEdit

Pelletier was born in Sayabec, Quebec, and grew up near the hockey rink. His mother said if he wanted to play hockey, he also had to take figure-skating lessons.[1] He achieved early success as a pair skater with Julie Laporte. They won both the novice and junior titles at the Canadian Figure Skating Championships and placed 7th at the World Junior Figure Skating Championships in 1992. Despite these accomplishments, Pelletier felt his career needed a "shake up" and paired up with Allison Gaylor. They trained in part with Isabelle Brasseur and Lloyd Eisler, and had their biggest success in 1995 when they captured the 1995 Canadian silver medal and represented Canada at the World Figure Skating Championships in Birmingham, England where they placed 15th. That same year, as a single skater, Pelletier placed second in the short program of the men's event at the Canadian championships. He struggled in the long program, falling to fourth overall.

After failing to reach the podium the next two years, Pelletier and Gaylor split and Pelletier paired up with young singles skater Caroline Roy. Just before the 1998 Canadian championships, Pelletier's former partner Julie Laporte was killed in a car accident. Pelletier and Roy had a strong skate, but placed 6th and split soon after the event.

Partnership with Jamie SaléEdit

Salé and Pelletier compete at the 2002 Grand Prix Final

Pelletier asked coach Richard Gauthier to help him find another partner, and he suggested Salé. They traveled to Edmonton in February 1998 to try out with Salé again. "The first time we grabbed hands, it was just great," said Pelletier, and by the next month Salé had moved to Montreal to skate with him.

The Canadian Figure Skating Association invited the pair to compete at Skate Canada, where they immediately made a statement by placing second in the short program, ahead of reigning Canadian Champions Kristy Sargeant and Kris Wirtz, and third in the long program to win the bronze medal. Because of their success, they were invited to the NHK Trophy in Japan and brought home another bronze medal.

Their fall successes made them favorites for the Canadian title, but they struggled technically and finished second. The silver medal earned them a spot on the Four Continents and World teams, but Pelletier's back pain forced the pair to withdraw from both competitions. They would ultimately spend two months off the ice recuperating.


In the summer of 1999, Gaulthier enlisted the help of Lori Nichol, a Canadian choreographer, to choreograph Salé & Pelletier's programs for the upcoming season. Nichol created a tango piece for their short program, and, after a suggestion from coach Marijane Stong, set their long program to music from the movie Love Story. The programs got off to a good start. At the 1999 Skate America, Salé & Pelletier won both the short and the long programs, defeating the two-time and reigning world champions, Yelena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze. At the Nations Cup, their second Grand Prix event, they finished second. However, at the Grand Prix Final, they made several errors in both programs and finished fifth.

They competed at the 2000 Canadian Figure Skating Championships in Calgary, Salé's hometown. The two skated a strong short program and a nearly flawless long program, earning five 6.0 marks in presentation—the first for a pair at the championships.[citation needed] Sale & Pelletier captured another 6.0 and the gold medal at the Four Continents Championships in Osaka, Japan. In the 2000 World Figure Skating Championships in Nice, France, they were third after the short program due to an error in a spin. They dropped in the long program, finishing fourth overall.


Salé and Pelletier returned to Lori Nichol for their 2000–01 programs. She choreographed a jazzy short to "Come Rain or Come Shine" and a dramatic, mature long to Wagner's opera "Tristan und Isolde." They returned to Skate America and Skate Canada that fall, winning both over Shen/Zhao and Berezhnaya/Sikharulidze, respectively. Berezhnaia/Sikharulidze then narrowly defeated them at Trophée Lalique.

The pair was again a great hit at the 2001 Canadian Championships in Winnipeg, but did not earn the string of 6.0s that "Love Story" had brought them the previous year. They went on to win again at Four Continents in Salt Lake City, the site for the 2002 Olympics, and dusted off "Love Story" to win the Grand Prix Final – despite Sale missing the side-by-side triple toe loop in all three phases of the competition.

The 2001 World Championships were held in Vancouver, and Salé and Pelletier entered as heavy favorites. Trouble on the side-by-side jumps landed them in third place in the short program, but the team was placed first in the long program despite Salé singling a side-by-side double axel. They were the first Canadian pair to win Worlds since Isabelle Brasseur and Lloyd Eisler in 1993, and the first pair to win at a Worlds held in Canada since Barbara Underhill and Paul Martini in 1984. They would later win the Lou Marsh Trophy as outstanding Canadian athlete in 2001.

2002 Winter OlympicsEdit

Salé and Pelletier again demonstrated early success in the 2001–02 season, winning both Skate America and Skate Canada with their new long program to "Adagio Sostenuto" by Rachmaninoff, nicknamed "Orchid" for its flower theme. Perhaps more importantly, they demonstrated technical consistency in both competitions.

The Grand Prix Final, held in Kitchener, Ontario, was important because it was the only chance to test their programs against the top contenders before the Olympics. Despite a rough performance of "Orchid" in the first long program, Salé and Pelletier once again won skating a flawless performance of "Love Story" for their second long program. They headed into the 2002 Canadian Championships in Hamilton, Ontario with confidence, having defeated Berezhnaya and Sikharulidze, their biggest rivals. They were able to win the title despite a badly flawed long program.

The pressure for the Olympics was intense. Despite several silvers and bronzes, Canada had only won two gold medals in figure skating, in 1948 and 1960. All eyes were on Salé and Pelletier to break the streak and win, overcoming the Russian pairs dominance that had lasted for 40 years. They skated their short program well, only to trip and fall on their closing pose. Because the fall was not on an element, it did not receive a deduction. They placed second behind Berezhnaya and Sikharulidze.[2] In the long program, Salé and Pelletier had no obvious mistakes. Berezhnaya and Sikharludize, meanwhile, skated a more difficult program in which Sikharulidze had a minor step out on a jump element before quickly regaining unison with his partner. The minor error from the Russians had many convinced that the Canadians had won the gold but when the judges' scores came up, Salé and Pelletier were placed second in the long program. Four judges placed Salé and Pelletier first, while five had Berezhnaya and Sikharulidze as the winners, with the Canadians receiving higher technical scores and the Russians higher presentation scores. This result spurred an outcry from the North American media who emphasized Sikharulidze's stepout, although there was no media criticism a year earlier when Salé and Pelletier were awarded gold at the 2001 World Championships,[3][4] while ignoring that Salé and Pelletier had fallen in the short program and not received a deduction. The commentators received criticism for failing to mention Berezhnaya and Sikharulidze's strengths, with some observers stating that the Russians had performed a more challenging program with greater speed, more interweaving moves and transitions, and less distance between the partners.[5][3][6][7][8][9] After the competition, the French judge Marie-Reine Le Gougne admitted she had been pressured by the head of her federation, Didier Gailhaguet, into awarding the long program to the Russians and a judging controversy quickly blew up. The scandal ultimately resulted in the suspension of several judges and officials, and Le Gougne's vote was discarded. Salé and Pelletier were awarded gold medals in a special ceremony later in the week.

The controversy resulted in several changes to the judging system after Salt Lake City. First anonymous judging was incorporated to "relieve outside pressure" from judges by separating their names from their marks so pressurers could not assert whether the judge had acted as they wished or not. The ISU Judging System, based on a Code of Points rather than a 6.0 scale, was adopted for use in the Grand Prix season of 2003–04, and for all 2004–05 competitions and thereafter.

Post-Olympic careerEdit

After the Olympics, having settled in Edmonton, Alberta, the pair turned professional and toured North America with Stars on Ice, a popular figure skating show.

Salé and Pelletier were inducted into the Skate Canada Hall of Fame in 2008.[10] They were inducted into the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame on March 26, 2009.[11]

Battle of the BladesEdit

On August 22, 2011, CBC television announced that Pelletier would compete in Season 3 of their figure skating competition TV program Battle of the Blades. He was paired with hockey player Tessa Bonhomme, and on November 14, 2011, the pair won the $100,000 first prize for the charities of their choice, Ronald McDonald House Southern Alberta (Pelletier) and Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation ‘CIBC Run for the Cure’ – Sudbury Run Site (Bonhomme).[12]

Hockey coachEdit

After retiring from competition, Pelletier became an ice hockey power skating coach, working with professional and high level amateur players, including players from the Canadian women's hockey team.[13]

In September 2014, Pelletier was hired as a skating coach for the Edmonton Oilers of the National Hockey League,[13] a role he still holds as of the 2021–22 season.[14]

Personal lifeEdit

Pelletier was married to ice dancer Marie-Josee Fortin for a year before he began skating with Salé and ended his marriage. Pelletier proposed to Salé on Christmas Day of 2004 in front of his parents and Salé's mother.[15] The couple was married on December 30, 2005, at the Fairmont Banff Springs hotel in Alberta.[16] In 2006, they served as commentators on the television program Olympic Ice which aired on USA Network during the Winter Olympics in Torino Italy. Pelletier and Salé welcomed a son, Jesse Joe Pelletier, on September 30, 2007, at the Sturgeon Community Hospital and Health Centre in St. Albert, Alberta.[17]

In June 2010, Salé and Pelletier announced plans to divorce following an 18-month separation, sharing custody of their son.[18] They continued to skate together until retiring in 2012.[1] Pelletier married Russian figure skater Ekaterina Gordeeva on July 25, 2020.[19][20] They live in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

Competitive resultsEdit



(with Jamie Salé)

Event 1998–1999 1999–2000 2000–2001 2001–2002
Winter Olympic Games 1st
World Championships 4th 1st
Four Continents Championships 1st 1st
Grand Prix Final 5th 1st 1st
GP Skate America 1st 1st 1st
GP Skate Canada International 3rd 1st 1st
GP Nations Cup 2nd
GP Trophée Lalique 2nd
GP NHK Trophy 3rd
Canadian Championships 2nd 1st 1st 1st
Canadian Open 1st
Masters of Figure Skating 4th

(with Caroline Roy)

Event 1997–1998
Canadian Championships 6th

(with Allison Gaylor)

Event 1993–1994 1994–1995 1995–1996 1996–1997
World Championships 15th
Nations Cup 12th
Canadian Championships 8th 2nd 5th 6th

(with Julie Laporte)

Event 1991–1992 1992–1993
World Junior Championships 5th 7th


(with Salé)


  • World Team Challenge: 1st place (Team)
  • Ice Wars: 2nd place (Team)


  • Hallmark Skaters' Championship: 1st place
  • Sears Canadian Open: 1st place



Awards and honoursEdit


  1. ^ a b Barlott, Caroline (April 1, 2015). "A Modern Family: After splitting up on and off the ice, Olympic gold medallists Jamie Sal and David Pelletier have formed a new kind of partnership". Avenue magazine Edmonton. Retrieved May 2, 2020.
  2. ^ "Berezhnaya-Sikharulidze impress the judges". Associated Press. February 9, 2002.
  3. ^ a b Harvey, Randy (February 13, 2002). "Skating on Thin Ice? It Figures". Los Angeles Times.
  4. ^ Dixon, Robyn (February 16, 2002). "It's an Outrage to Russians". Los Angeles Times.
  5. ^ Wallechinsky, David (2009). Complete Book of the Winter Olympics. Greystone Books. p. 86. Retrieved July 9, 2010.
  6. ^ "2002 Olympic Winter Games: Pairs Figure Skating Highlights". Golden Skate. February 12, 2002. Archived from the original on July 25, 2008. [Salé/Pelletier's program] was not quite up to the standard set by the Russians in terms of complexity and originality
  7. ^ Mittan, Barry (March 2, 2002). "As the Skate Spins". Golden Skate. Archived from the original on July 5, 2008.
  8. ^ Loosemore, Sandra (writer for CBS Sportsline) (February 2002). "2002 Olympic Pairs Free Skate Analysis". SkateWeb. Archived from the original on January 31, 2010.
  9. ^ "Maybe the Russians really did win". Pasadena Star News. February 13, 2002.
  10. ^ "* Index * Jamie Sale". USA Today. Archived from the original on October 2, 2011.
  11. ^ Little, Lyndon (January 23, 2009). "Sale, Pelletier among inductees into Olympic Hall of Fame". The Vancouver Sun. Postmedia Network Inc. Archived from the original on October 21, 2012. Retrieved May 8, 2011.
  12. ^ "Headline". CBC News. Archived from the original on November 2, 2011.
  13. ^ a b Sexsmith, John (September 14, 2014). "Edmonton Oilers hire former Olympic champion David Pelletier as skating coach". Global News. The Canadian Press. Retrieved October 15, 2021.
  14. ^ "David Pelletier – Skating Coach". oilers.ice.nhl.com. Retrieved August 1, 2021.
  15. ^ "David Pelletier and Jamie Salé Marriage Profile". Archived from the original on October 29, 2007. Retrieved October 4, 2007.
  16. ^ "Olympic Figure Skaters Wed". People. January 7, 2006. Archived from the original on September 24, 2015. Retrieved August 1, 2021.
  17. ^ Benet, Lorenzo (October 1, 2007). "Ice Skaters Jamie Salé & David Pelletier Have a Son". People. Archived from the original on August 26, 2016. Retrieved August 1, 2021.
  18. ^ "Olympic gold medallists Salé, Pelletier divorce". CBC.ca. June 4, 2010. Retrieved June 4, 2010.
  19. ^ Prahl, Amanda (October 6, 2021). "Bad Sport: How Jamie Salé and David Pelletier's Lives Changed After the 2002 Olympics". Yahoo!. Retrieved February 22, 2022.
  20. ^ "Ekaterina Gordeeva on Instagram". Instagram. July 26, 2021. Archived from the original on December 23, 2021. Retrieved January 1, 2022.
  21. ^ "Canada's Sports Hall of Fame". sportshall.ca. Retrieved August 24, 2017.[permanent dead link]

External linksEdit