Weaver and Poje win first Canadian title in ice dance

KINGSTON, ONTARIO – Andrew Poje started this podium selfie thing, and now others are doing it, too. On Saturday night, he took his favourite selfie: he and his partner Kaitlyn Weaver on top of the podium at the Canadian Tire National Skating Championships.

After so many years of seconds and thirds and ups and downs and injuries and all, Weaver and Poje finally won the Canadian championship title they have always wanted. “We finally made it,” said Weaver. They were obviously emotional in the closing moments of their sophisticated free dance to the Four Seasons.

“Ever since we were little kids, we dreamed of being national champions,” Poje said. “And to be the top of your country is an amazing thing.”

“It means so much more than any other gold medal that we’ve won this year,” Weaver said – and she’s counting the Grand Prix Final gold. “We’ll be Canadian champions for the rest of our lives.”

Poje said it was one of their most nerve-wracking competitions. “Even though we felt we could achieve this as long as we put two good programs together, we were nervous, because we really wanted this and it was really important to us,” he said.

Weaver and Poje won the free dance with 111.62 points and the gold medal with 187.88.

Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier were pleasantly surprised by their free dance score of 104.67 – highest ever for them – and their final total of 174.70 to take the silver medal.

Alexandra Paul and Mitchell Islam won a tight fight for the bronze medal, nailing that down with 160.67 points. However they finished only fifth in the free dance and Islam said they were hard hit in the technical marks for a Peter Gabriel routine that is only two months old.

Nicole Orford and Thomas Williams were third in the free dance while Elisabeth Paradis and François-Xavier Ouellette were fourth. Paradis and Ouellette ended up fifth overall, missing out on fourth by only .06.

In pairs, Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford won their fourth Canadian title and blasted their own previous Canadian record doing it. Their previous mark? 220.72, set at the Grand Prix Final. Their mark at nationals? 230.19.

“It was the best we’ve done this year, but we can still do better,” Duhamel said. Duhamel singled a double toe loop at the end of a triple-double-double combo. “We want to leave something for worlds,” she said.

Duhamel and Radford believe all four teams in the final group delivered powerful skates. “I don’t really remember when that has happened,” Duhamel said. “It was a great day for Canadian skating.”

Lubov Ilyushechkina and Dylan Moscovitch won the silver medal in their first season together, earning 65.15 points for the free and 187.85 overall.

While in the past, Moscovitch had always been pushing Duhamel and Radford with his previous partner, Kirsten Moore-Towers, he and his Russian-born partner trailed the winners by a whopping 42.34 points.

“We really feel lucky that we found each other and that we had a shot at doing this,” Moscovitch said. “I had no idea what was going to happen to my career. The fact that we came together the way that we did feels like it was meant to be, almost serendipitous. It’s very enjoyable.”

Julianne Séguin and Charlie Bilodeau, competing at their first senior event, won the bronze medal with 181.43, narrowly edging out Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro. Séguin and Bilodleau edged Moore-Towers and Marinaro by only .56 in the free.


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