Published August 31, 2023

'Outgoing personality': Former Barrie Olympic figure skater Alexandra Paul remembered

By Maan Alhmidi

Files from Barrie 360

Whether on the ice, in the courtroom or in her latest role as a new mother, Alexandra Paul brought passion and joy to all she did, those who knew the former Olympic figure skater said as they mourned her death. 

Paul, 31, died last week in a crash involving seven vehicles in Melancthon Township, north of Shelburne, when a transport truck entered a construction zone on County Road 124 and crashed in a line of stopped cars. 

Police have said Paul's infant son was with her and was taken to a children’s hospital to be treated for non-life-threatening injuries.

Mike Slipchuk, the high performance director with Skate Canada who had worked with Paul for years, said news of her death has been heartbreaking. 

Paul was "just a great-all-around person," he said, and will be remembered fondly by all who knew her. 

"She had an outgoing personality." he said. 

"She was very fun to be around and had a very positive impact."

Slipchuk said he first met Paul in 2008, when she was competing at the junior level. He worked with Paul and her figure skating partner Mitchell Islam, whom she later married, until they retired from skating in 2016. 

He last saw Paul just a few days before the fatal crash, during a summer skating competition in Waterloo, where her husband was a coach. 

Slipchuk said the couple were a successful team and became World Junior ice dance silver medallists before becoming three-time Canadian senior medallists. 

Paul and Islam competed at two World Championships in 2014 and 2015 and were members of the Canadian team at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, Slipchuk said.

"They pushed ahead and kept getting stronger and if one year, if one event, didn't work the way they had hoped, the next one was better," he said. 

"It culminated in them being part of Olympic team which is every athlete's dream and it was so great to see them get to that milestone and accomplish that."

Skate Canada has said Paul was a true role model for aspiring skaters, demonstrating the values of resilience, perseverance and sportsmanlike conduct.

“A shining star on and off the ice, Alexandra’s dedication, passion, and remarkable talents have left an indelible mark on the world of figure skating,” read a tribute posted on the federation's website.

“Her commitment to excellence was matched only by her warmth and kindness, which endeared her to fellow athletes, coaches, and fans alike.”

Paul, who retired from competitive skating in 2016, went on to complete a law degree at the University of Windsor and was called to the Ontario bar in 2021. 

Joanne McPhail, managing partner of Barriston Law in Barrie, where Paul had worked as a lawyer, said her death has been devastating to everyone at the firm. 

"Alex came to us initially as a summer student, then articled with us, and then practiced with us as a young lawyer after her call to the bar in 2021," McPhail said in an emailed statement. 

"She attended our firm golf tournament recently and was full of excitement about her future, as were we."

McPhail said Paul's friends and colleagues will miss her joyful personality and her intense passion for her work and her family.  

"She was kind, curious and driven in every endeavour she pursued," she said. "Our thoughts and hearts are with her son, Charlie, husband Mitch, and her entire family."

Banner image: Alexandra Paul, left, and Mitchell Islam perform their senior dance short routine during the Canadian Figure Skating Championships in Halifax on January 22, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 31, 2023.

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