Scarborough figure skating pair wins Canadian gold, ready for worlds

Newly crowned Canadian figure skating champions Paul Poirier and Vanessa Crone already have their sights set on the world championship.

The pair captured gold in the ice dance competition at 2011 BMO Canadian Figure Skating Championships, which wrapped up Jan. 23 in Victoria, B.C.

“We hope to make it into the top five: the prestigious ‘top group,’ as it’s called,” said Poirier, who trains with Crone at the Scarboro Figure Skating Club. “Our programs still have a lot of room to grow and we have two months of training until then to make sure we’re skating at our best when the time comes.”

The duo tallied a combined score of 164.21 in the short and long programs in Victoria, clinching top spot and a berth at the 2011 world championships, set for March 21-27 in Tokyo, Japan.

Poirier, a native of Unionville, attributed their win to hard work.

“We train every weekday from 6:30 a.m. to 11 a.m., and another three hours on Saturdays,” said Poirier, who along with Crone finished 14th at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games. “As for sacrifices, I cannot even begin to count them.”

A big source of their motivation, he said, is Carol Lane, a coach at the Scarboro Figure Skating Club since 1987.

In addition to their on-ice exercises, she has her pair training in ballet, modern dance and ballroom dance.

“Aside from their personal fitness trainers, they do these off-ice exercises to help with their balance, posture and feeling of movement,” Lane said. “But aside from the training, I tell them to trust in their training and each other, and go and skate the hell out of the routine.”

Waterloo’s Andrew Poje and Toronto’s Kaitlyn Weaver took home the silver medal from Victoria, along with the third and final Canadian spot in Tokyo. Defending Olympic champions Scott Moir and Tessa Virtue hold the final spot.

Just missing out on a Canadian championship podium finish were Kharis Ralph and Asher Hill, who finished fourth. The Toronto natives are also coached by Lane at the Scarboro Figure Skating Club.