Canadians earn berth at Grand Prix Final

MOSCOW – Ice dancers Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje of Waterloo, Ont., and pairs team Kirsten Moore-Towers of St. Catharines, Ont., and Dylan Moscovitch of Toronto earned berths for next month’s ISU Grand Prix Final with medal performances on Saturday.

At the sixth and last stop on the circuit before the Final, Weaver and Poje posted the best score in Saturday’s free dance to win the silver medal with 163.14 points.  They were also second at Skate Canada last month.

Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev of Russia held on to top spot at 168.32 and Madison Chock and Evan Bates of the U.S., were third at 153.37.

“We were very pleased with our free dance,” said Poje.  “We wanted to make sure we came back strong after a disappointing score in our short program.  It wasn’t a season best score but for us it was like a season’s best performance.”

Poje said he and Weaver didn’t hold anything back on Saturday.

“At Skate Canada we were a bit timid,” he said.  “So we wanted to make sure today that we showed the emotion and the softness at the right moments.  We were a little stronger with our technical elements too.  We are on a really good momentum right now.”

Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier of Toronto were sixth.

In pairs, Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy of Germany won the gold medal with 206.33 points.  Vera Bazarova and Yuri Larionov of Russia were second at 201.61 and Moore-Towers and Moscovitch snared the bronze at 188.73.

The Canadians continued their wave of success in 2013 which has included three international medals and  fourth at the world championships.  On Saturday, Moore-Towers fell hard on a lift dismount bruising her hip.

“Neither of us had our best skate today,” said Moore-Towers.  “It was a bit messy at times but nothing that we missed is something we are greatly concerned about.  We’re going to keep training the same way and we are still confident.  Our goal was to make the Grand Prix Final and we achieved that.”

Moscovitch said the pair came in to the competition well prepared after some solid training since Skate Canada a month ago.

“We’ll definitely be hungry at the Grand Prix Final,” he said.  “It’s always special to make the Final especially in an Olympic year.  It’s an opportunity to be among the top-six in the world and competing there will set us up well for the second half of the season.”

Canada has qualified five entries for the Grand Prix Final  set for December 5-8 in Fukuoka, Japan.  The other three are Patrick Chan of Toronto in men’s singles, Tessa Virtue of London, Ont., and Scott Moir of Ilderton, Ont., in ice dancing and Meagan Duhamel of Lively, Ont., and Eric Radford of Balmertown, Ont., in pairs.

Louis Daignault

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