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Deanna Stellato-Dudek becomes oldest woman to win world figure skating title in pairs’ victory

A teen skating star in 2000, Deanna Stellato-Dudek on Thursday won her first world title at age 40, becoming the oldest woman to take gold in any figure skating event.

The Canadian Stellato-Dudek and partner Maxime Deschamps won the pairs at worlds in Montreal, capping one of the remarkable comebacks in the sport’s history.

They led by 3.95 points over defending champions Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara of Japan after Wednesday’s short program.

They needed a cushion. Miura and Kihara won the free skate but still ended up 3.68 points behind overall.

FIGURE SKATING WORLDS: Results | Broadcast Schedule

Upon finishing their skate, Stellato-Dudek, who felt a little sick during the day and said their warm-up was terrible, had a question for Deschamps.

“Was it good?” she asked. “Because I feel like I blinked, and it (the four-minute program) was finished.”

Stellato-Dudek, a suburban Chicago native, came up as a singles skater, winning silver at the 2000 World Junior Championships.

She competed at the U.S. Championships against Michelle Kwan, Sarah Hughes and Sasha Cohen in the 6.0 scoring era.

In 2001, she retired from skating after several hip injuries.

A decade-plus later, Stellato-Dudek, by then a director of aesthetics at a plastic surgery office, was asked on a work retreat to write down what she would do if she knew she couldn’t fail.

Return to figure skating.

So she did in pairs, at first in 2016 with 2014 U.S. Olympian Nathan Bartholomay and then teaming with Deschamps, who previously had eight different partners, according to

She envisioned herself at age 80, enjoying a glass of wine and being proud of giving it her all and leaving the sport with no regrets.

“Can I get a quote beside the record book, like 40 is the new 20?” Stellato-Dudek joked late Thursday night. "(An age record) is not something that I ever set out to do when I came back to skating, but I knew that if I were to accomplish my dreams it would inevitably occur because I’m the oldest everywhere.

“I hope a lot of athletes stay around a lot longer. I hope it encourages people to not stop before they reach their potential, and I hope it transcends into other areas, not just in sports.”

Last season, Stellato-Dudek and Deschamps won a Grand Prix event and placed fourth at worlds. This season, they won six of their seven events and entered worlds with the best score of any pair this fall or winter.

Now it looks very much like she will be reflecting decades from now on a first Olympic appearance at age 42 in 2026.

Stellato-Dudek, who moved to Quebec to train with Deschamps, said after Wednesday’s short program that she is confident she will be eligible to represent Canada at the Games, which have more stringent nationality rules than International Skating Union events like the world championships.

She is already older than any Olympic figure skater since World War II, according to the OlyMADMen.

“If I could talk to my younger self, I think my younger self would think I’m crazy,” said Stellato-Dudek, who wants to celebrate with a Chanel purchase. “She wanted to win the 2006 Olympics, so she would be wondering why I’m going for the 2026 Olympics.”

Worlds continue Friday with the rhythm dance and women’s free skate, live on Peacock.