Gilles and Poirier lead the Canadian contingent competing at Skate Canada International
It’s been two years since Canadians Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier stood on the podium at Skate Canada International after winning gold.
When the second stop on the Grand Prix circuit begins this week, the 29-year-old ice dancers will enter not only as the reigning champions of 2019 – the 2020 iteration has been cut due to the pandemic – but also with a medal. bronze at the world championships to their names.
“To start the Grand Prix feels good. I think we’ve put so much work and effort into the last couple of weeks.… I think we’re starting to feel like we’re in this perfect place to be. succeed, ”said Gilles.
Skate Canada, which takes place in Vancouver from October 29 to 31, will also see figure skating fans filling the arena. The duo are delighted to feed off this energy again, although some of them are no longer used to it.
“I think the challenge at Skate Canada… will be just to manage our energy so that we don’t get over-excited by the buzz in the building,” said Poirier.
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The team have been meticulous in fine-tuning their skates after reaching first place this season at the Autumn Classic International.
Heading into the circuit and the Olympics, both men say they’ve changed the “flavor” of their programs with new transitions and dynamic lifts. They are delighted to share their rhythmic dance of Elton John and “Long and Winding Road” for free, as well as the heart behind the pieces.
“Our love for skating and performance has never wavered. I think that’s the feeling we want to convey and so while ‘the road’ might be history, I think what we want really shining is our love of our craft and what we do, ”said Poirier.
They will be joined by two other Canadian teams, both of whom played in the Fall Classic.
Haley Sales and Nikolas Wamsteeker of Canada finished sixth while Marjorie Lajoie and Zachary Lagha finished ahead of them in fourth place. Lajoie and Lagha also finished seventh in the Finlandia Trophy.
Meanwhile, a Canadian trio also compete in the men’s singles, including Keegan Messing, Roman Sadovsky and Conrad Orzel.
Messing was the only Canadian to have squeaked in a skate at the Grand Prix last year. The 29-year-old performed to heavy applause at Skate America, which he said was “like someone has taken all the bass out of your favorite song.”
The skater said he got a taste of “what we forgot” with the live crowd in Finlandia in early October, where he finished fourth.
Along with the excitement of competing alongside his teammates again, he also brings sentimentality to the ice as a new dad, with his son, Wyatt, inspiring his Phillip Phillips’ long ‘Home’ program.
This may be the last or penultimate season for Messing – a season he says he intends to compete in the Olympics and world championships.
For the first time since 2018, Nathan Chen will enter after leaving a competition where he reached the podium, but did not win gold.
The three-time world champion will compete in back-to-back events after winning bronze at Skate America. Fellow American Jason Brown, who won gold at Finlandia, will also make his series debut, as will Russian Alexander Samarin, who finished on the podium in the 2019 Grand Prix final.
Schizas of Canada to make their Grand Prix debut
On the women’s singles side, Canadian Madeline Schizas is making her Grand Prix debut.
The 18-year-old from Oakville, Ont., Said she soaks up the experience of learning to perform in a tough field – she finished fifth at the Cranberry Cup and set a personal best free in Finlandia for the ninth.
“The level of women’s skating has been really high recently,” she said. “We started from where a mistake or two is acceptable, to clean up [skate] being a minimum.
“I do my best when competing against tough competitors. “
Schizas won the 2021 Skate Canada Virtual Challenge and is the 2020 National Bronze Medalist.
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The Canadian says she has used the pandemic to increase the technical content of her program amid the lack of competition.
Canada’s Emily Bausback, 2020 national champion, and silver medalist Alison Schumacher, are also on the field.
They will face powerful Russian skaters Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, reigning world silver medalist, and Alena Kostornaia, who won the Grand Prix final in 2019. American Karen Chen, who finished fourth at the world championships, will also compete in the competition.
Three Canadian teams also make up almost half of the competition in pairs. Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro are the reigning 2019 silver medalists, returning from a sixth place finish at the world championships.
The Canadians started their competitive season with an eighth place finish at Finlandia.
In front of them in fifth place were new partners Eric Radford and Vanessa James.
Radford is also suffering from a knee injury from Finlandia, suffered in the free after being kicked by James on their triple toes side by side.
“One of our main goals is to continue on the momentum and progression that we gain every day and every time we come out of competition,” said James, adding that while the expectations come from themselves and others, they just hope to take the opportunity to skate again.
“We want to do our best and get our best result, but when we get on the ice that’s not what we have in mind. And if there is a time when we can get on the podium, it will be just a bonus addition, ”Radford said.
Lori-Ann Matte and Thierry Ferland round out the Canadian contingent, which will face fierce competition, including Chinese Sui Wenjing and Han Cong – two-time world champions, 2018 Olympic silver medalists and gold medalists in the final of the Grand Prize 2019.