by Anne Calder | Photo by Robin Ritoss

The 2019 Skate Canada International was held in Kelowna, British Columbia October 25-27. The city also hosted the event in 2014. Ten teams from five ISU countries competed for points toward qualification for the Grand Prix Final to be held in Torino, Italy December 5-8.

Canadians Piper Gilles & Paul Poirier skated away with their first Grand Prix gold medal (209.01) as a team. Madison Hubbell & Zachary Donohue of the USA won the silver (206.31). Lilah Fear & Lewis Gibson (pictured), representing Great Britain, discoed home with the bronze – the duo’s first career Grand Prix medal (195.35). Americans Kaitlin Hawayek & Jean-Luc Baker finished fourth (194.77). Gilles & Poirier, Hawayek & Baker and Fear & Gibson had personal best total scores.

Rhythm Dance
The USA teams of Madison Hubbell & Zachary Donohue (83.21) and Kaitlin Hawayek & Jean-Luc Baker (79.52) held down the first and third places while Canadians Piper Gilles & Paul Poirier (82.58) squeezed into second. The British team of Lilah Fear & Lewis Gibson (76.67) was fourth. All four couples train in Canada – Gilles & Poirier in Toronto and the other three together in Montreal.

The Americans edged the Canadians by a slim margin of 0.63 with the Midline Step Sequence levels being the big difference. Both earned the same GOE (3.59) for the element, but Hubbell & Donohue earned level 3, while Gilles & Poirier received level 2. The base value difference was 0.75. The Program Components had only a .07 separation.

Free Dance
The voices of Joni Mitchell, Lady Gaga, and Madonna took center stage. At the end of the competition the scrambled final placements showed no resemblance to the order of the rhythm dance results. Only Spain’s Sara Hurtado & Kirill Khaliavin held the same fifth spot for both segments. 

Gilles & Poirier danced a personal best 126.43 to “Both Sides Now” and upset the 2018 Grand Prix Final winners by 3.33 points in the free dance. The base values were a virtual tie, but their GOEs put them over the top. The Canadian audience showered their home favorites with a standing ovation and thunderous applause.

Hubbell & Donohue slipped a notch with a 123.10 score for their dance to “Shallow” and “Alibi” from the film, A Star is Born. For the second straight week, the reigning World Champion bronze medalists placed second in the free dance after taking the lead in the earlier segment. Their placement earned them a ticket to their fifth straight Grand Prix Final and the opportunity to defend their 2018 title.

Lilah Fear & Lewis Gibson won the first British Grand Prix medal since 2014 with a lively dance to “Vogue” and “Like a Prayer.” The personal best 118.68 score vaulted them on to the podium by over a three-point margin. They earned the highest GOEs for their Choreographic elements, including a 3.20 for the mandatory Choreographic Character Step Sequence.

Hawayek & Baker fell to fourth with a 115.26 segment score to Beethoven’s “5th Symphony” and Paganini’s “Caprice No. 24”. The 19 year-old Polish classical guitarist, Marcin Patrzalek, performed both music selections.