Canadian figure skating pair Maxime Deschamps and Deanna Stellato-Dudek won gold at the 2024 World Figure Skating Championships in Montreal in March, acclaiming 40-year-old Stellato-Dudek as the oldest female figure skater to win this title. The newly bejewelled pair joins the 2024 Stars on Ice nationwide tour beginning on April 25. 

Winning a gold medal was a wish Stellato-Dudek sent into the universe—seven years ago. 

Growing up in Illinois, Stellato-Dudek began skating at the age of five. She was a figure skater for Team USA and won the Junior Grand Prix final in 1999 and came second at Junior Worlds the following year. A series of hip injuries hampered her training in 2001 and it was ultimately a fractured ankle that prematurely ended the 17-year-old’s figure skating career. Or so she thought. 

Sixteen years later during a work retreat for her job as an esthetician, a team-building activity asked the participants to respond to the prompt: “What is something you’d do if you knew you couldn’t fail?” Stellato-Dudek’s answer—“I would win an Olympic gold medal”—took her by surprise as she thought she’d let go of any skating aspirations. 

Two weeks later, she dusted off her skates, literally, because they’d been sitting in her parents’ basement for sixteen years. The double jumps immediately came back to her but it was physically painful in the early days, though not painful enough to stop her. Says Stellato-Dudek: “I loved the feeling of skating again, feeling the wind on my face and landing a jump felt so good! I got addicted to that feeling.”

In her thirties, when most elite skaters are retiring, she returned to the sport to compete in pairs, which entailed learning an entirely new set of technical elements. She partnered with American Nathan Bartholomay for three seasons, and then in 2019 she found a new skating partner in Montreal’s Maxime Deschamps. Border policies during Covid complicated travelling back and forth so she left her home in Chicago to continue training with him in Quebec. 

“What makes it great with Deanna is her fire and perseverance. She’s a warrior. Every day she comes to the rink, it’s like the Olympics,” says Deschamps, 32. “We have a lot of fun on the ice and that’s what takes us to the next level.” 

At their Grand Prix debut at the 2022 Skate America in Massachusetts the pair won silver and went on to win gold a month later at the Grand Prix in Augers, France. This was the first Grand Prix win for both skaters. It also made Stellato-Dudek, 39, the oldest Grand Prix medalist. 

However, while competing in the 2022-23 season, Stellato-Dudek contracted a severe case of Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) which caused a temporary paralysis of her left vocal cord and breathing difficulty. Despite not being able to breathe properly, she and Deschamps won gold at the 2023 Canadian Figure Skating Championships in Paris and again in January 2024 in Calgary. 

At the 2024 World Figure Skating Championships in March, Deschamps and Stellato-Dudek had a significant lead over the Japanese skaters Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara who’d won the 2023 title. The home crowd gave the Canadians a standing ovation even before their program set to the Interview with the Vampire soundtrack had finished. 

About being the oldest female athlete in any skating discipline (singles, pairs, ice dancing) to win a world championship, she acknowledges that what she is accomplishing at 40 in the sport is “very abnormal” and so she’s grown to accept being consistently asked about her age and have it referenced. “To be honest, I’m full of honour and pride that I’ve broken a record in figure skating, and I truly hope that other people stay longer in their sporting careers after seeing me do this. And even outside the sports world, I hope that people realize that if they want to do something, like go back to school or start a second career, they have the option of doing that regardless of their age.”

The pair aspires to compete in the 2026 Milano-Cortina Winter Olympics where Stellato-Dudek hopes to become one of the oldest Olympic medalists. If you manifest it…

No Rest for the Weary! 

Immediately after Worlds, the reigning world champions performed with Stars on Ice in Japan and now join the Stars on Ice 12-city nationwide tour in Canada beginning in Halifax on April 25 and wrapping up in Victoria on May 16. The tour features the world’s top skaters including Canadians Elvis Stojko, Patrick Chan, Piper Gilles, Paul Poirier, 2024 U.S. World Men’s Champion Ilia Malinin, Japan’s Satoko Miyahara, and Belgian’s Loena Hendrickx. 

For a complete list of tour dates and ticket information, visit

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