Meet Marjorie Lajoie
You've heard her name, you've seen her skate, you've ooh-ed and ahh-ed over her powerful edges, buoyant artistry, and record-breaking career as a Canadian ice dancer - but have you really met Marjorie Lajoie? She's pretty fantastic. Aside from being a junior world champion, Youth Olympic bronze medalist, and three-time Canadian junior national champion, she also holds the equally impressive titles of... Hardworking film actress. Dance partner to Zachary Lagha. Diligent student on and off the ice. Creator of Patinage Atypique, the benefit skating show that raised $15,500 for the Fondation de l’Autisme. Loving cat mom to Yuuki. Loyal daughter, sister, cousin, and friend. Insanely supportive teammate. And of course, all-around kind, thoughtful human being.
Marjorie is a very impressive individual solely based on her myriad of achievements, but what's even more impressive to me is he remarkable tenacity, admirable work ethic, and the inspiring way she's taken disappointments and losses and turned them into motivation, fire, and ultimately, golden success. There's no doubt that she and Zach are the team to watch in the coming seasons - especially now that they've officially moved up to the senior level. It's an honor to interview someone like Marjorie, whose extraordinary accomplishments are only matched by her caring heart, empathetic nature, and genuine desire to do good in the world. Read on to learn the full story of Marjorie's ice dance journey, how she feels about making her senior debut this weekend at the Lombardia Trophy, and why she is so very proud to be a Canadian and represent the Great White North.
(Original header photo courtesy of Miss Poudrette)
Birthday: November 6th, 2000 (18 years old)
Born: Boucherville, Quebec, Canada
Hometown: Boucherville, Quebec, Canada
Currently: Boucherville, Quebec, Canada
Country Represented: Canada
Skating Club: CPA Boucherville
Discipline: Ice Dance
Partner: Zachary Lagha
Training Location: Ice Academy of Montreal (IAM) @ Centre Gadbois in Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Coaches: Marie-France Dubreuil, Patrice Lauzon, Romain Haguenauer, and all of the team (I AM)
Boots: Jackson Ultima
Blades: MK Dance
Photo courtesy of Danielle Earl Photography
Q: From training as an ice dancer to working as a professional actress (appearing in commercials and the Canadian TV series Just Kidding), it's clear that you have both a passion and a talent for the performing arts. What inspired you to start skating and acting, and what are your favorite aspects of each?
A: I went skating for the very first time with my dad when I was three, and I didn't want him to help me - I felt so free and so fast on the ice! So I asked my parents if I could take figure skating classes. Nobody in my family was familiar with the world of figure skating, so they didn’t know what they were getting into... My dad has always played hockey, and my mom used to be an advanced contemporary dancer when she was younger, so we like to think that I took the best of their respective passions to create my own!
For the acting, when I was in elementary school, my dramatic arts teacher wrote a letter to my parents and I to communicate that I had a natural talent for acting and that I should try to join a professional agency. So I did, and I couldn’t believe I was paid to do something that was so much fun! But I had to restrict myself to contracts that did not impede on my figure skating training, which was my number one priority right from the start.
Early photos of Marjorie pursuing her two passions: skating and acting!
Q: In 2011, you partnered up with Zachary Lagha and began your very successful ice dance career. After winning the Canadian novice national title back in 2015, you and Zach split for a few months before reuniting that same summer. Can you tell us more about that experience and how it made you and Zach stronger as a team?
A: We were young and were both passionate about our sport, but didn’t have the same mindset. The split gave us the opportunity to realize that our differences could actually be a strength, that we complemented each other well, and that we are at our best together. It allowed us to reset how we wanted to work as a team and with the coaches.
Check out Marjorie & Zach's adorable pre-novice Austin Powers free dance from 2013!
Q: The 2015-16 season was filled with a lot of firsts - you made your Junior Grand Prix debut, became the Canadian junior national silver medalist, took part in the Youth Olympics, and competed at Junior Worlds for the first time. What are some of your favorite memories from that year, and what was the biggest lesson you learned in your first junior season?
A: Wow that first junior season was a very good one, we learned so much! I remember how happy and surprised I was when I learned that we were the second-best juniors in Canada in our first season, especially because just the year before, I was looking at the top three and was so impressed and wished to be on that podium one day, then the year after, I was… After, we went to Youth Olympics, which was and still is one of my favorite competitions, and where I gained the most experience. One of my best memories was competing in the team event, because you were not only competing for yourself, but for the ones on your team - I loved that feeling - and winning the bronze medal was one of my proudest moments. Finally, there was our first Junior Worlds, where I fell literally 12 times during practice before the short dance. It was so big for me, to think, OMG, we are at Junior Worlds, we represent Canada, I want to do well! I learned to calm down (and it went really well)!
Q: The next three seasons after that were a blur, filled with three junior national titles, four Junior Grand Prix medals, and barely missing the podium at the Junior Grand Prix Final and Junior Worlds by a few points. How did you deal with the disappointment of being so close yet so far to your goals, and did those struggles make it more meaningful when you became junior world champions this past year?
A: Our first big disappointment was missing the podium at Junior Worlds in 2018 (we were 4th and 0.66 points away from 3rd). It was really hard for me, this one really hit me… We were in 2nd after the short and did the best free dance we had ever done, so I was so sure we'd at least be on the podium (because in my mind we didn't make any mistake that could drown us from 2nd to 4th) that when I saw 4th, I just couldn't understand what had just happened. In 2019, we missed the podium at the Junior Grand Prix Final - we were 0.03 from 3rd in our home country… Argh… I don't like to think about that haha… for this one of course we were disappointed, but I think it also hurt our ego because it was in Canada, in our home, and the top three ended up being from Russia, and we were so close to that 3rd place… Then the same season, we won Junior Worlds. We didn't want to have another big disappointment, so we made sure to arrive more than ready, transforming our anger in a strong will to win. I remember telling myself the whole week that I was going to win, and I believed it, and it happened.
Q: You and Zach are the second-ever Canadian ice dance team to win Junior Worlds (the first being Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir in 2006). What does carrying on Canada's ice dance legacy mean to you, and in general, what makes you proud to be a Canadian?
A: Of course we are very proud - especially when you know that the only ones who have done it are legends like Tessa and Scott - but it's junior, it's only the beginning. One of the things that makes me realize how lucky and proud I am to be Canadian is that every time someone asks me where I’m from and I say Canada, absolutely everyone from everywhere around the globe has a big smile and starts telling me how much they love my country.
Q: This upcoming season is very exciting, as you and Zach are set to make your senior debut! With the Lombardia Trophy and your two Grand Prix assignments (Skate Canada and Rostelecom Cup) right around the corner, how are you feeling right now, what are you looking forward to, and what are you most nervous about?
A: I’m feeling some stress right now, but I am also very excited to finally start our senior career. I am looking forward to all the experience we will gain alongside the best in the world. What adds to the pressure is that we are coming up as the junior world champions, and people have expectations.
Q: I also wanted to touch on the benefit show you produced in April to raise money (the total ended up being $15,500 CAD!) for the Fondation de l’Autisme, as I know that's something you're very passionate about because your younger brother, Charles-Étienne, has autism. What was your experience putting on Patinage Atypique, and how would you like to continue your autism advocacy in the future?
A: I wanted to help families and people living with autism and decided to use my passion to raise money. We have some of the best skaters from all around the world in Montreal, so I knew that this could help reaching for spectators. I reached out for the skaters, and it was so heartwarming to receive so many positive answers! We had a very diverse group united for the cause, including many talented people with autism. I did the planning of the show, but I also had lots of help from my family, my friends, and the Foundation. I was really touched to see how well it went - and that it was sold out so easily although it was the first year of the show. The crowd was amazing, and the arena was so full that we even had people standing up. I want to do Patinage Atypique every year to raise more money, and I plan to include even more people with autism in it. I started recruiting already!
Q: To succeed in figure skating, you have to be incredibly strong - not just physically, but mentally and emotionally too. What do you do to mentally prepare for competition?
A: During practice, we make sure we feel ready, so when the competition comes, we don’t need to think too much - it’s not the time to think, but to perform. I do a lot of visualisation before a competition.
Q: How hard is it balancing your skating, acting, and educational pursuits, and what are some short-term and long-term goals you have in those areas of your life?
A: This is what I think - if you want to be really good in something, you can’t do everything. For example, I can’t do lots of acting because skating is my priority. Once I did an audition for a role, and I would have played a figure skater. They liked me, and before going further, they asked me if I was okay to spend 10 months away from Canada. So of course we needed to end it there. The hard thing is to learn to say no and stay focused on your right priorities.
Right photo courtesy of Danielle Earl Photography
If you found $20 on the street, what would you do with it?
Put it in my bank account.
What is the best thing about your family?
How close we all are and how supportive everyone is. I can have really deep and personal conversations with my parents, and I know not everyone can do that, and I’m very thankful.
If you could be an animal for a day, which one would you be and why?
A chameleon, so I could go anywhere and spy on anyone without being seen.
Cutest thing your cat Yuuki has ever done?
He slaps me in the face to wake me up, then meows until I pet him. Even if it was super early, I think it was very cute.
Favorite Christmas tradition?
I have 18 cousins, and we are all very close in age, so seeing all of them at once and being with all my family together is my favourite tradition.
Best word to describe your day today?
What is a weird quirk of yours?
One of them is that I can do the wave with my tongue.
Quote to live by?
"Being different is more than ok, you should be proud to be different, it makes you beautiful."
The many expressions of Marjorie Lajoie
(Photos courtesy of MK Blades)
KEEP UP WITH MARJORIE
Marjorie's Instagram: @marjorie.lajoie
Zachary's Instagram: @lagha_zak
Marjorie's Twitter: @marjorie_lajoie
Zachary's Twitter: @lagha_zak
Team Facebook: Marjorie Lajoie & Zachary Lagha
Tune in this weekend as Marjorie and Zach make their senior debut at the Lombardia Trophy in Bergamo, Italy - the second Challenger Series event of the season. The rhythm dance takes place tomorrow (Saturday, September 14th) from 8:30 - 10:30 AM Eastern Daylight Time (EDT), and the free dance will be Sunday, September 15th, from 9:45 AM - 12:10 PM EDT. Watch both livestreams here and keep up with the results here!
All other photos and videos courtesy of Marjorie Lajoie