VANCOUVER – Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier of Toronto are in first place after Friday’s rhythm dance at Skate Canada International, the second stop on the ISU Grand Prix circuit.
Skating to music by Elton John, Gilles and Poirier notched a personal best international score of 85.65 bettering the 83.92 set at the ISU Four Continents in early 2020. In their bright orange suits they wowed the crowd with a smooth program and were awarded level four marks for their sequential twizzles and rotational lift.
Charlene Guignard and Marco Fabbri of Italy are second at 78.82 and Olivia Smart and Adrian Diaz of Spain third at 76.97.
‘’We haven’t really been conscious of having a target on our back,’’ said Poirier, third with his partner at last spring’s world championships. ‘’Our focus is on the Olympics and getting a medal there. We are very aware of all the places we need to improve – we need to focus on the work we need to do on ourselves.’’
Marjorie Lajoie of Boucherville, Que., and Zachary Lagha of St-Hubert, Que., are sixth and Haley Sales and Nikolas Wamsteeker of Langley, B.C. are 10th.
The Americans are 1-2 in men’s competition after the short. World champion Nathan Chen stands first with 106.72 and Jason Brown is second at 94.00. Canada’s Keegan Messing is third ahead of two Russians at 93.28.
Messing nailed his his quad toe triple toe combo to open his program, turned slightly on his triple Axel landing and executed a solid triple Lutz.
‘’It’s great to be back on the circuit but I forgot the pressure that comes with it,’’ said Messing, sixth at the world championships. ‘’I was very thankful to go out there and put down a clean skate.’’
Conrad Orzel of Woodbridge, Ont., is ninth and Roman Sadovsky of Vaughn, Ont., is 10th.
In pairs, Canadians are within striking distance of the podium after the short program.
Two-time Canadian champions Kirsten Moore-Towers of St. Catharines, Ont., and Michael Marinaro of Sarnia, Ont., are fourth at 66.43 just ahead of the new pairs team of Vanessa James of Scarborough, Ont., and Eric Radford of Balmertown, Ont., in fifth at 65.02. Lori-Anne Matte and Thierry Ferland of Levis, Que., are seventh at 57.25.
‘’We were so excited to skate in front of a crowd,’’ said Moore-Towers. ‘’But we may have gotten a little bit too excited, and we got a little bit ahead of ourselves in parts of the program.’’
James and Radford, in their first season together, bring a lot of experience to the table but there is still an important adaptation period.
‘’We still need mileage and time in competition,’’ said James, who joined forces with Radford in April. ‘’Our practices are going very, very well. We’re learning a lot about how the other reacts in competition and what changes a little bit when we are under stress.’’
Olympic silver medallist Wenjing Sui and Cong Hang of China are first at 78.94, Daria Pavliuchenko and Denis Khodykin of Russia are second at 69.46 and Minerva Fabienne Hase and Nolan Seegert of Germany third at 67.93.
Russia stands 1-2-3 in women’s competition after the short. Kamila Valieva is first, Elizaveta Tuktamysheva second and Alena Kostornaia third.
Madeline Schizas of Oakville, Ont., is ninth, Emily Bausback of Vancouver 10th and Alison Schumacher of Tecumseh, Ont., 11th.
‘’I’m very happy with my skate today it was one of my better ones,’’ said Bausback, 19, the reigning Canadian champion, who set a season’s best 59.53. ‘’Getting the energy from the crowd really helped me perform and I felt I made a connection with them.’’
Competition ends Saturday with the four free skates.
Full results: http://www.isuresults.com/results/season2122/gpcan2021/