The clock is clearly ticking against them but Kaitlyn Weaver isn’t ready to shut it down just yet.
Standing on crutches with a black boot encasing her fractured left fibula, the Canadian ice dancer sounded anything but like a 23-year-old woman ready to give up without a fight.
“You can bet your bottom dollar that we are going to do everything to get back,” she said after watching the short dance competition at the 2013 Canadian Figure Skating Championships. “We are not giving up yet, that’s for sure.”
The injury to Weaver, which occurred during a fluke fall into the boards during a training session in Detroit just before Christmas, knocked the couple out of nationals — an event at which they’re six-time medalists.
More importantly, it’s put in jeopardy their hopes of representing Canada at the 2013 World Championships in London, Ont., where Weaver and Poje hoped to push for the podium after finishing a mere one step off it a year ago in Nice, France.
All of that is now in doubt, and it is truly a race against time. When the injury occurred, Weaver was told she had to stay off her left foot for six to eight weeks — and the front end of that estimate is almost at hand.
“I have a doctor’s appointment next week and we’ll see what he says,” Weaver said. “It will be almost six weeks by then and that’s kind of the number I was aiming toward. It all depends on how the bone looks.
“No one knows how it’s going to react when I can weight bear and get the muscle strengthened. We are trying our very hardest to get back in time for Worlds, but we can’t argue with the physiology. We want to make sure that we’re smart about it ... preparing for next year is the ultimate thing.”
Poje added: “When it comes down to it, no one really knows what’s going to happen. We have to listen to her body and figure out what’s best. It’s more important that, down the road, we’re healthy and we don’t rush to get back into it.”
Indeed, the bigger issue is making sure Weaver and Poje are where they need to be to take a run at the Sochi 2014 Olympics. And much as they’d love to be in London, it’s those Winter Games that matter most.
“That is the priority, the Olympics,” said Pasquale Camerlengo, who coaches the team with former world champion Angelika Krylova at the Detroit Skating Club. “This is the thing, and we don’t want to jeopardize her by taking risks. So we will see if everything is okay. If it’s not and we have even a little doubt it isn’t going to be right ... then no.
“We are the first ones to say we don’t want to risk anything, because next year is too important.”
While Camerlengo believes it’s important that his protégés maintain their current sense of hope with regard to the 2013 Worlds, he also admits “it’s going to be hard” to get Weaver and Poje ready in time. And it’s not necessarily about any International Skating Union deadline — Skate Canada has three ice dance spots in London and is allowed to name up to three alternates. It will no doubt hold off on a final decision until after the Four Continents Championships in February.
“It depends on the first step she will take on the ice,” Camerlengo said. “When this moment is going to happen will tell us more. I believe that her motivation will help her recover even faster than the doctor predicts. But let’s say that in order to have them be ready to be competitive at Worlds, we need at least four weeks of full training. Not four weeks of just stroking around, but four weeks of good training to make them close to 100 percent.”
Poje, meanwhile, continues to skate on his own in Detroit — he’ll even work with Krylova on some patterns next week. “That’ll be fun and scary ... for me, not for her,” Poje said.
Weaver is doing what she can to maintain her fitness level. “It’s important for both of us to stay in tip-top shape because when it’s go time, it’s going to be immediate and I don’t have time to waste,” she said. “It’s a pretty busy schedule rehabbing. I’m doing everything I can.”
While both skaters were heartened by the support they received from fans during nationals, they admit being spectators was not the easiest thing. “It was hard,” said Poje, 25, of Waterloo, Ont. “We kind of had to get into a different mental state because it’s different being on the other side of the boards, for sure. Especially during the dance event, seeing that and knowing we should be out there. But we’ll just come back stronger.”
Weaver said not being able to go onto the ice was difficult. “It’s been very sad, and we can’t tell you how hard it is not being on the ice. But it’s even more motivating to get back and get stronger than ever.
“We’re going to be better than ever when we come back.”