The train keeps on chugging forward for Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje. Unbeaten throughout the fall season, the duo added a second straight Canadian title to their résumé on Saturday — and a whole bunch of momentum to carry all the way to the Worlds in Boston. A year ago, this particular moment dripped with tears and emotion. Finally, after so many years of living in the shadow of Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, they broke through as national champions. Though the emotion was different this time, there was clearly satisfaction with the result.
“Last year was monumental,” said Weaver. “We had been working our whole lives to be Canadian champions and now this is a great confidence booster, and a stepping stone to the rest of the season. I’m happy to say we’re not a blip on the champions record list. Two times means you’re not just (enjoying) 15 minutes of fame, so I’m happy about that. This means so much to us.”
With a free dance score of 115.53, Weaver and Poje posted an overall total of 191.73 — both scores were their best yet at nationals — for a comfortable win of nearly 12 points over silver medalists Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier.
Gilles and Poirier, who put another innovative program in front of an appreciative audience on Saturday, were ecstatic about their free dance score of 109.19, which Poirier noted was “about four points higher” than the number they recorded at nationals a year ago. “Those things are quite big,” a beaming Gilles said. “That’s the first time we’ve had scores that high, so I think it’s just showing that everything that was done is moving in the right direction and we feel like we’re very, very confident with this program now. We’re confident in how different it is and how it makes us feel when we skate, and I feel like we’re really starting to embrace our different skating style and we’re really starting to own it.”
The bronze went to Elisabeth Paradis and François-Xavier Ouellette (165.83), who bumped Alexandra Paul and Mitch Islam off the podium by 0.22 points. And maybe off the World team.
Speaking of owning it, Paradis and Ouellette seemed to grab possession of Canada’s third ice dance spot at Worlds with their crowd-pleasing skate to the classic Simon and Garfunkel tune, “Bridge Over Troubled Waters.”
But the Quebec couple are not all the way there yet — they have yet to earn a qualifying technical score in their short dance, a situation they hope to remedy at Four Continents next month in Taipei City.
They made up nearly a five-point gap after the short dance to overtake Paul and Islam and land on the podium. “We came here thinking third place was something that was reachable,” said Paradis. “After the short, we thought we were too far behind and maybe that’s why it went so good, because we didn’t have any pressure and we just skated the best we could. We didn’t think we had a chance.”