KELOWNA, B.C. – Canadian ice dancers Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier earned their first career victory on the ISU Grand Prix circuit on Saturday while compatriots Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro added silver in pairs and Nam Nguyen was also second in the men’s event.
Gilles and Poirier, in their ninth season together, set personal bests right across the board finishing with 209.01 points. The Toronto tandem edged the defending Grand Prix Final champions Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue of the U.S. in second at 206.31 while Lilah Fear and Lewis Gibson of Britain were third at 195.35.
“This is such a special moment,” said Poirier. “Our mentality every single day is to push ourselves in order to win. We felt really united this week and that gives us the confidence we need to skate our best.”
World junior champions Marjorie Lajoie of Boucherville, Que., and Zachary Lagha of Saint-Hubert, Que., moved from seventh to sixth and Haley Sales of Kelowna, B.C., and Nikolas Wamsteeker of Burnaby, B.C., remained 10th.
In pairs, Aleksandra Boikova and Dmitrii Kozlovskii of Russia took the gold with 216.71 followed by Moore-Towers and Marinaro in second at 208.49. Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov of Russia were third at 202.29.
“We’ve been training a lot better than that,” said Moore-Towers, from St. Catharines, Ont. “We worked really hard on our jumps so there was some unforeseen mistakes and we’re glad we didn’t let them snowball. But it was probably our worst run of this program in six weeks.”
Lubov Ilyushechkina of Toronto and Charlie Bilodeau of Trois-Pistoles, Que., were fifth and Evelyn Walsh of London, Ont., and Trennt Michaud of Trenton, Ont., eighth.
There was no surprise on the men’s side as two-time Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu earned 322.59, less than a point from the world record. Nguyen also set a personal best 262.77 and Keiji Tanaka of Japan was third at 250.02.
“I felt pretty good,” Nguyen said. “There was a moment backstage while I was waiting I was kind of freaking out a little bit. But once I put my skates on, I pretty much calmed down. I basically watched Yuzu’s entire program, and I was able to channel that energy.”
Nicolas Nadeau of Blainville, Que., was seventh and Roman of Sadovsky of Vaughan, Ont., 10th.
In women’s competition, Alexandra Trusova of Russia won the gold medal with Rika Kihira of Japan second and Young You of South Korea third.
Two-time Olympian Gabrielle Daleman of Newmarket, Ont., was 10th, Alicia Pineault of Varennes, Que., 11th and Veronik Mallet of Sept-Iles, Que., 12th.
“It was good to get some more mileage on this program,” said Daleman. “Training has been going well this week and it was a thrill to compete in front of the home crowd.”
The next stop on the circuit is Friday and Saturday in Grenoble, France.
Full results: ISU GP 2019 Skate Canada International