Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje of Waterloo, ON performing their free skate at the 2012 ISU World Championships

Weaver and Poje feel ready for Skate America

Canadian ice dancers coming off strong debut

After a successful and injury-free summer, Canadian ice dancers Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje will be kicking off their International Skating Union (ISU) Grand Prix of Figure Skating season this Friday at Skate America in Kent, Washington.

The reigning national silver medalists are feeling especially comfortable going into the weekend following a strong gold medal debut at the Ondrej Nepela Trophy competition in Bratislav, Slovakia earlier this month.

“The first competition of the season was a great start for us,” said Poje, 25, in a conference call from their training facilities in Detroit, Michigan. “We definitely wanted to get out our programs and get the feeling of the kind of atmosphere again.

“And we felt like that was the perfect opportunity to be in Slovakia.”

For Weaver, it was also a chance to release some pre-season tensions.

“Very excited to feel like we’re going to Skate America with performances under our belts and not feeling too jittery right off the bat,” said the 23-year-old.

Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje talks about their new programs for this season – a polka-themed short and a contemporary free skate.

Following their hugely successful and emotionally-charged free skate to Lara Fabian’s “Je Suis Malade” last season, the 2012 Four Continents Championship bronze medalists will be performing two new programs this year, hoping to build on their growth and development as artists.

They admit it is still a work in progress, but they are also eager to see themselves grow with the program as the season progresses.

With Skate Canada International in Windsor, Ontario, taking place the week after Skate America, Weaver and Poje will be the sole Canadian entry in this weekend’s competition.

And they are in for a tough battle for a top podium finish as two-time champion and world silver medallist Meryl Davis and Charlie White will be there to defend their title in ice dance.

European silver medallists from Russia Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev are also expected to compete.

Skate America is the first of six ISU Senior Grand Prix stops, culminating to the Grand Prix Final in December in Sochi, Russia. Only six of the highest-ranked skaters on the Grand Prix tour in each of the four figure skating disciplines qualify.