by Anne Calder | Photos by Daphne Backman

Last weekend, for one special Saturday evening, the free dance atmosphere at Sportplexe Pierresfonds for the Autumn Classic International was reminiscent of hockey night in Canada. When the top ice dance teams squared off in the final free dance group, the Canadians in the arena went wild.

In the end, the Canadian teams dominated the podium and the medalists sang the national anthem of Canada after the medals were awarded on the concourse.  Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir won the gold; Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poge earned silver, and Piper Gilles & Paul Poirier took home the bronze.

Short Dance: Virtue & Moir took a commanding ten-point lead with a 79.96 program that included the only level 4-pattern dance. The twizzles earned all +3 technical marks and a 1.80 GOE score. The judges’ PCS averaged 9.62.

Weaver & Poje scored 69.32. While the twizzles earned level 4, they unfortunately posted a negative GOE. The pattern and step sequences were level 3.

Gilles & Poirier were a slim .52 behind in third place with a 68.80. The high base value and GOE points for their level 3 partial and step sequences plus the level 4 twizzles boosted the technical mark.

In their senior ISU Challenger Series debut, Lorraine McNamara & Quinn Carpenter (USA) were fourth with 62.00, followed by Olivia Smart & Adria Diaz (ESP) only .32 points behind in fifth.

Free Dance: After a two year sabbatical, Virtue & Moir returned to competitive skating in 2016 and won every event they entered. In Montreal they continued their winning streak with an Olympic season program to the Moulin Rouge film soundtrack, which included: “The Show Must Go On”, “El Tango de Roxanne,” and “Come What May” and scored 115.80 points.

Virtue & Moir seamlessly maneuvered the intense choreography across the ice as they interpreted the basic theme of the film. After the final bow, they skated to the kiss and cry, knowing they had left everything on the ice.

The judges gave them all but two +2 and +3 marks, which added to the base value, gave them a strong technical score. The Component marks ranged from 9.00 – 9.75, plus three 10.00’s. The total was 195.76.

Weaver & Poje’s Adagio from Spartacus placed second with a 104.24, 11 points behind the leaders. The duo captured the balletic theme of the music with their level 4 spin, twizzles, and lifts. The circular (9.52) and diagonal (9.74) step sequences were rewarded for the dancers’ deep edges, closeness and speed. The total was 173.56 and earned the silver medal.

Weaver shared her thoughts about the performance.

“For the first time out, it felt good to get out there,” Weaver said.  “There are so many little things we need to do, including point wise, but that’s what September is for. It’s a very audience-friendly program. We’re happy we made it through – we survived!”

The team trains at the Ice House in Hackensack, NJ and the Novogorsk Olympic Center in Moscow, Russia with Coach Nikolai Morozov.

Gilles & Poirier’s film noir free dance included the sed the theme song from the fifties TV show Perry Mason to score 103.46 and place third. The dancers accented their elements with every bold and chilling musical beat that created mystery and suspense throughout the program. The spin, lifts, and twizzles earned level 4. Gilles’ costume was vintage for the criminal drama.  Gilles spoke about the program.

“We went back to the basics at the beginning of the season,” Gilles said.  “We’re very pleased; it’s only September, so we have lots of work to do.”

The team received the bronze medal for their 172.26 total.

The fourth and fifth SD placements switched spots after the free dance. Smart & Diaz (ESP) moved into fourth place with “It’s a Man’s World” and “Natural Woman” program. (155.56); McNamara & Carpenter claimed fifth with an Argentine Tango to “Anime Contro Vento” by Medialuna Tango Project. (154.50)