by Matteo Morelli
The ice dance competition at Skate Canada International this year saw two medals awarded to the local teams: Piper Gilles & Paul Poirier showed their programmes for the first time and secured the lead in both sections of the competition and earning their third gold at Skate Canada, while Marjorie Lajoie & Zachary Lagha gained bronze after jumping up a position from the rhythm dance. Great Britain’s Lilah Fear & Lewis Gibson delivered two strong programmes, securing their first silver at a Grand Prix event.
USA’s Molly Cesanek & Yehor Yehorov were happy after their free dance, and are ready to keep working on their programmes that they feel have already improved since the feedback they received at Nebelhorn Trophy. In their rhythm dance, they decided not to use a pattern in their programme.
“This gives us more time to improve transitions, footwork, choreography, some different special moments,” Yehorov said. “It is something new, and we are excited to do it, to experiment”.
Holly Harris & Jason Chan from Australia ended in eighth place with some disappointment, a week after having competed at Skate America and ending in fifth place there. Asked about back to back competitions, Holly said that they tried not to think about it and focus on their job, however they now believe they deserve a little time to rest before heading to other events. To build their free programme choreography, they worked with Olympic Champion Guillaume Cizeron.
“It is pretty amazing to have him by our side,” Chan shared.
Emily Bratti & Ian Sommerville from the USA ended sixth overall and were really happy with the energy they put into their programme.
“We didn’t have a moment where we disengaged,” Somerville said. “We were really happy with the score”.
Every spot in the competition didn’t change from the rhythm dance to the free dance, apart from third and fourth which was battled between Caroline Green & Michael Parson from the USA, and Marjorie Lajoie & Zachary Lagha from Canada. The American team secured the third place after the rhythm dance, with the Canadian team just a fraction of a point behind them. However, the free programme ended with a different outcome, with their Gershwin’s Rhapsody in blue programme not delivering enough to keep their third place and jumping off the podium.
“This season is turning into a huge learning experience,” Green shared. “We had to leave expectations at the door and just really be open to a whole new perspective”. The duo changed coaches and now working with Charlie White, Tanith White and Greg Zuerlein. They are enjoying learning from such an experienced team, and think that it is helping the way they are approaching their partnership and their skating.
Lajoie & Lagha delivered a solid & convincing free programme on piano and violin music by Ilan Eshkeri, claiming their first Grand Prix medal.
“I am very happy, especially with the performance we did today,” Lajoie said. “We managed to destress and we were able to deliver very good performances in front of our home crowd”.
The challenges before the Gran Prix helped them to prepare for it.
“We need to deal with the stress before going into Grand Prix,” Lagha added.
Britain’s Lilah Fear & Lewis Gibson presented solid performances with their Jennifer Lopez rhythm dance and Lady Gaga’s free programme, which is quickly becoming one of the most entertaining and crowd pleasing programmes of the season.
“I think we both had so much fun performing today,” Gibson said. “It is always such a gift to get to skate to Born this way by Lady Gaga as a free dance. It is super empowering music”.
“We got to watch her live,” Fear added. ”She is so confident, and she is so inclusive with everyone. This really inspired us and is a message that we really want to get across in our skating and our performance”.
Canada’s Piper Gilles & Paul Poirier were strongly in the lead in both sections of the event. Their free programme is based on music from the movie Evita.
“We had an absolute blast performing this free for the first time,” Gilles said. “I think we knew the moment we started choreographing this programme that it was going to be something special and it absolutely tells this beautiful story about this iconic figure. We are really proud of everything that we did today and yesterday”.
“The mind-set was really critical in just creating the moment that we were able to have today, particularly for us returning this season after the last Olympic cycle,” Poirier added.