Backstage after the Ice Dance Elite show with Piper, Paul and her twin Alexe

There is nothing better on a hot summer’s day for people like me than to head to the rink where it is nice and cool. Last Tuesday evening was no exception. The occasion was the annual Exhibition Gala known as ‘So You Think You Can Judge’ put on  by the Scarboro Ice Dance Elite school. It is a fun event where the spectators are handed a package containing the skaters’ names and music info and are invited to comment.  Mostly though, I come to watch the skaters and buy raffle tickets for prizes that I never win. (Sigh)

This was my first chance to see what Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier have been up to since we last saw them at the Canadian Figure Skating Championships, where they won the bronze. A pretty impressive start to a career that is very promising.

There have been changes both on and off the ice: for starters, Piper is now eligible to compete for Canada and the pair will make their debut internationally at Skate Canada during the Grand Prix series.

I have to say that what I saw during the free dance was amazing. The things that jumped out at me were the speed, the difficulty and the music. The music called is memorable for me because of its intricacies. Paul said: “We actually wanted to use this music a year ago but it was too rushed to try and find something to go with it. We have been looking since last August.”

The majority of the  choreography was provided by coaches Carol Lane and Juris Razgulaevs with input from Christopher Dean. Carol says: “We did 98% of it ourselves with Chris providing about 2%. Mind you it is a very good 2%!” Indeed.  When the skaters went to Colorado, the free dance, with the exception of the last 25 seconds was already done.

Keeping in mind that the costumes are still being made and that they are skating in practice outfits – here is a first look at Gilles and Poirier skating their free dance:

The other changes are in their overall skating where the skaters acknowledged that they have enjoyed the benefit of additional practice time as their season finished in January. Piper explains: “Since Canadians, we have worked really hard on our stroking and our skating skills. For 2 1/2 months from January to mid-April we probably did two hours of stroking per day.” And it shows.

With time the skaters have also developed a stronger relationship and you can clearly see that they enjoy spending time together:

Leaving nothing to chance and with a long list of goals like making the World team and getting to the Olympics in 2014, Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier are ready, willing and clearly able.