In four weeks, Scarborough sports fans can cheer for some local talent when the World Figure Skating Championships get rolling in London, Ont.
Piper Gilles, 21, and Paul Poirier, 21, ice dancers who train out of the Ice Galaxy in Scarborough, will be looking to cap off an excellent first international season together when they take to the ice at the Budweiser Gardens on March 14.
“This year was really all about experience,” Gilles said. “The more we are out there, the more people see us, the more we can get the fans and the judges to enjoy our skating.”
The dance pair has been skating together for only two years. In her junior career, Gilles had represented the United States and had to wait to become eligible to compete for Canada as per International Skating Union rules.
“Paul and I knew each other before we started skating with each other. It took a little bit getting used to because you don’t know how the other person reacts,” Gilles said.
It did not take long for the two skaters to feel at ease with each other. Out on the ice it seems as if they have been skating together forever. The first thing you notice is a natural honesty between them when they interact.
“We joke around a lot but we have a good feeling for each other. Some days we know one person is tired, and you know to back off a little bit. I think we just have a good understanding,” Gilles said.
When you skate every day for almost 50 weeks of the year, it does not take long to develop chemistry.
This magnetic connection also helps to develop the goals they have together.
I mean, obviously we want to go the Olympics next year.
— Paul Poirier
Gilles and Poirier are a young team and lack experience compared to their competition, but they have big goals as they plan their future in the sport.
“At the end of the year you can re-analyze where you are, how your body is doing, how your placements are and what you need to work on, ” Poirier said. “I mean, obviously we want to go the Olympics next year.”
So far this season, Gilles and Poirier have skated well.
The team got to achieve their main goal after a strong showing at the Canadian National Championships. That important finish qualified the team to compete in both the Four Continents in Japan and the upcoming World Championships.
“It gives us two extra opportunities to compete internationally, get experience and get more exposure. Just the fact that we are going makes the season mission accomplished,” Poirier said. “We still want to be improving and skate really well at those two competitions.”
At the Four Continents last weekend, Gilles and Poirier finished in fifth spot. Although they did not garner the same amount of points they had in previous outings, they got the experience that they are after.
The pair will look to have another strong outing at the upcoming World Championships to complete a season that has already been a success.