Ice dancers Gilles and Poirier win gold at Skate Canada


MISSISSAUGA, Ontario – Canadian ice dancers Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier were so exhausted after an Olympic season of isolation and dodging COVID-19 that their six-week break over the summer was not just a choice – it was a necessity.

“It was what we needed to be able to continue,” Poirier said. “I think otherwise we would have just…”

“We wouldn’t have come back,” Gilles said.

Making their season debut after the longest streak of their careers, Gilles and Poirier won gold at Skate Canada International, the third of their careers. And they said they never felt stronger.

“Absolutely,” said Gilles. “We are rested, we are in good mental health, everything is where it should be.”

Japan’s Rinka Watanabe won the women’s singles gold medal earlier on Saturday.

Gilles and Poirier earned 128.47 points for their passionate program to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Evita,” music they had thought about skating to since the partnership began in 2011, and earned 215.70 points overall for the ‘gold.

Britain’s Lilah Fear and Lewis Gibson won the silver medal (209.18), while Canadians Marjorie Lajoie and Zachary Lagha won the bronze medal (195.49).

Skating to the soundtrack of Japanese TV show “Jin”, Watanabe kicked off with a triple Axel – a jump that still eludes most female skaters – to claim the women’s singles title with 197.59. It was his Grand Prix debut, at junior or senior level.

“I was quite nervous but I think I did pretty well, so I’m really happy that I did well, solid, today,” she said.

Watanabe, who had lived and trained in Vancouver from 2017 until the COVID-19 pandemic forced him to return to Japan, plans to include two triple Axels in his free skate at his next event.

Starr Andrews of the United States scored 191.26 for silver while You Young of South Korea, who also landed a triple Axel, took bronze (190.15).

The event will conclude with the pairs and men’s singles on Saturday evening.

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