by Katie Tetzloff | Photo by Julia Komarova
Moving west from last week’s excitement in Illinois, this year’s Skate Canada International will take place in Kelowna, British Columbia. Eight teams representing five countries will take the ice at this season’s second Senior Grand Prix event, held October 30 to November 1. Six of the eight teams train in North America, with two pairs of training mates heading to the event together.
As the host country, Canada has three teams competing, including the favorites, Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje. If they land on the top step of the podium in Kelowna this week, it would be their first Grand Prix victory. This, year their short dance is set to “La Virgen de la Macarena,” and their free dance is a medley of selections from Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons.” Weaver & Poje have already won a gold medal this season at Nebelhorn Trophy, scoring 165.32.
Canada’s second team, Piper Gilles & Paul Poirier, also has a chance at medalling this week in B.C. Two weeks ago at Skate Canada’s Autumn Classic, Gilles & Poirier earned a total of 142.52 points. Though a lift mishap in the short dance meant that they did not receive credit for the element, their “Streetcar Named Desire” free dance boosted them into second place overall.
Élisabeth Paradis & François-Xavier Ouellette will also represent Canada. This is only their second year competing internationally at the senior level, and after having placed fifth at Nebelhorn Trophy with a score of 128.05, this team was called in as a last-minute substitution at last week’s Hilton HHonors Skate America. Making a huge leap from eighth in the short dance with a memorable and passionate free dance performance, Paradis & Ouellette finished in fourth with a total of 137.30.
Americans Madison Hubbell & Zachary Donohue will be debuting their flamenco short dance and “Great Gatsby”-inspired free dance this weekend. They are the defending Skate Canada bronze medalists and can reasonably aim for another medal this year, perhaps even stepping higher on the podium. Hubbell & Donohue train in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., with Weaver & Poje.
Also representing the United States are Alexandra Eaton & Daniel Aldridge. This is their second year competing at the senior level, and up until this season, this team also trained with Weaver & Poje and Hubbell & Donohue under Pasquale Camerlengo. However, Aldridge & Eaton switched coaches over the summer and now work with Marina Zoueva. Their season debut took place in Salt Lake City at the U.S. International Figure Skating Classic, in which they stole gold by less than a point with a total of 141.70.
Sara Hurtado and Adria Diaz of Spain will also take the ice in Kelowna. Their belated season debut came two weeks ago at Skate Canada’s Autumn Classic, where they finished fifth. Hurtado is coming back from an off-season back injury that kept them out of summer events, as well as the U.S. Classic. They train in Montréal alongside Paradis & Ouellette.
Germany’s Nelli Zhiganshina & Alexander Gazsi will begin their ninth season together and their seventh season competing on the Grand Prix circuit. Known for their creativity and artistry, their short dance features two songs titled “La Maza” and “Ameksa,” while their free dance is a compilation of pieces from “Swan Lake Reloaded.” Zhiganshina & Gazsi placed third at this year’s Nebelhorn Trophy and second at Finlandia Trophy. To date, their season’s best score is 147.10.
The final team to appear at this year’s Skate Canada International is Russia’s Ksenia Monko & Kirill Khaliavin (pictured, right). This event marks the beginning of their third Senior Grand Prix season, though it will not be their season debut. Monko & Khaliavin competed at the Ice Star event at the beginning of September in Minsk, Belarus. They won by over 27 points, scoring 162.81, but it should be noted that scores at Ice Star are almost often heavily inflated. Although they did not medal at any Grand Prix event last year, this score is competitive with those of the top-tier teams; therefore, they could sneak in and steal a podium spot if they skate well.
The short dance is scheduled for Saturday, October 30, and the free dance will follow on Sunday, November 1.