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Mel's Skate Canada Blog: Hello from Windsor!

blog1-vmHello from Windsor! I had a nice drive this morning and even managed to find the WFCU Centre on the first time, which is never an easy task. I’ve been here a couple of times before, but I always seem to get lost between Lauzon Road, Lauzon Parkway, and Lauzon Line (three separate streets). Today, I just decided to turn every time I saw the word Lauzon, and I ended up at the right place! Even better: no running halfway around the arena in search of my credential this year. Things are off to a great start.

This all means that I got here in time for the scheduled mixed zone time with Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir and Piper Gilles & Paul Poirier, which was my goal. I think Kharis Ralph & Asher Hill came through as well, but they either snuck in before or during Tessa & Scott’s interview, and I missed them.

Scott reassured the press that he’s completely healthy and that his neck injury was indeed minor. He only missed a couple of days of training, got it sorted out with physio, and they are back to full strength. The injury was sustained while practicing the lift in their short dance, but it was just a fluke thing, and they haven’t changed anything.

“We’ll just try to do it better, so no one gets hurt,” Scott joked. 

“We have so many ties to Windsor. I graduated high school from here, and I’m currently at the university here,” Tessa said. “There are so many things that connect us to this city. We feel great.”

“I was just reflecting on it this morning—how much we really enjoy being at the Grand Prixs last year for the first time in a while,” Scott said. “You forget how great it is, what a luxury it is to compete 7 or 8 times in a season.”

They talked a little bit about their programs, and how coach/choreographer Marina Zoueva has wanted them to skate to Carmen for 4 of 5 years.

“We just didn’t seem to connect [before],” Tessa explained. “It’s so well known in the skating world. We knew that if we were to take on this program, we wanted to do it differently. We wanted to have our own spin on it and we wanted it to look like no other Carmen.

I’m certainly looking forward to my first glimpse of this program in practice today.

Piper & Paul also took some time with their free dance music—they actually picked the first piece, “Beirut,” last year, after hearing it in So You Think You Can Dance. They couldn’t get a whole program together in such a short time for their first season, though, so they saved it for this year. Even then, it took from January to May before the three pieces finally came together into a selection that could be a great program for them.

They have not made any major changes since Salt Lake, but they’ve worked hard on the characters in their short dance. In the free dance, they’re just trying to keep training the program and building momentum.

“We wanted this year to have very different programs that showed two different sides of us,” Paul said.

This is Piper’s first Grand Prix, but she says that nerves aren’t an issue because she feels so comfortable with Paul. She did admit, though, that the idea of competing against her old partner, Zach Donohue, does make her just a little uncomfortable.

“We’re all competitors, we all love to compete,” Piper said. “It’s really just in the back of my mind, but sometimes, when you see a face—you know. It’ll be some good motivation.”

I don’t think that the old partnerships will be too much of an issue and I don’t want to exaggerate them as a factor in this competition. I think that both Piper and Zach have grown into new partnerships that have turned out so well for each of them.

I think that about covers the backstage action today in Windsor. I’m planning to post again tonight with a bit of news from the practices.

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