Piper Gilles Catching Canadian Fever

And a Conversation with Patrick Chan

Susan D. Russell
Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier

She isn’t officially Canadian yet.

But paperwork aside, Piper Gilles is surely warming up to this being Canadian thing. She beamed proudly about the white dress she wore during Saturday’s short dance competition at the Hershey Centre — with a big band of red across the middle. Her fingernails? Painted with little red and white flags.

“I love the red and white,” said the native of Colorado Springs, who just turned 21 earlier this week. “I’m starting to say ‘eh’ a little more. I find myself saying ‘flood’ instead of a ‘Zam’ or ice cut. I’m slowly getting there ... I’m finding myself loving it more and more each day.”

Added Poirier: “We’re slowly converting her.”

And yes, she knows all about another proud Canadian tradition.

“There’s a couple of Tim Hortons near our rink,” said Gilles. “I go there to get tea every once in awhile. We all love Tim Hortons.”

As far as the citizenship goes, Gilles filed her paperwork for residency status about five months ago. Once that’s in place, the work begins on obtaining Canadian citizenship — a must if she and Poirier want to represent Canada at Sochi 2014.

They are, however, eligible now to compete for Canada at the 2013 Worlds. And after a second-place finish in Saturday's short dance, they're halfway there.


The calendar still makes it abundantly clear he’s the furthest thing from a skating greybeard.

But even at just 22 years old, Patrick Chan has a way of making himself sound like a golden oldie.

The five-time Canadian men’s champion — who took dead aim at No. 6 on Saturday night at a sold-out Hershey Centre — looks at the joyful innocence of some of the skaters around him, and pines for the days of being a carefree teenager again.

“I was watching Kaetlyn (Osmond, who’s 17) skate on TV and I think I admire her because she just goes out and has a blast,” Chan was saying Friday night after winning the short program at the national championships. “She literally just goes out, doesn’t care about the results ... which I guess is a good thing (about) being young.

“When I was young, I had that same mentality, where I didn’t really care. She’s singing before she goes out to skate. But she lands her jumps with no problem with tons of flow. That’s something that I want to learn to do more, to put myself in that mental space.”

Chan is then reminded be reporters old enough (at least) to be one of his parents that, ahem, 22 isn’t exactly rocking chair time. Nor is it the new 32. But you’ve all probably heard the line before — you’re as old as you feel.

“Mentally, you change a lot when you go from that age to when you get into your 20s,” said Chan. “I feel like when you’re in your 20s and you’re in these situations with media and expectations, you take it to heart a little bit more. You have much more responsibility as an adult and that’s the difference.”

Asked if he sees any of himself in the playful personality that belongs to 14-year-old Nam Nguyen, Chan initially resists the comparison. But not for long.

“Maybe. I think he’ll be more of a goofy kind (of teenager),” he said before thinking about it for a second, then giggling a bit. “Although I guess I was pretty goofy. He does remind me of myself.”