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2015 Skate Canada: Weaver & Poje Repeat as Skate Canada Champions

by Tatjana Flade

Weaver & Poje take gold

Barbara FusarPoli "encourages" her couple in the free skate

Like their American rivals Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje (CAN) decided to dump their short dance and built a new one right after their first competition, Finlandia Trophy, as the same high ranked official had also criticized their choice.

So instead of Elvis Presley, the Canadians went with Johann Strauss, to be sure to please the taste of the judges. There is no question, the classical Waltz and Polka suit them very well, but it is still less original than the Elvis program.

“We went from one extreme to the other, from Elvis to Strauss, but we couldn’t be happier,” Weaver said. “When we heard the Blue Danube we knew – that’s it.” They worked during night sessions in order to get the dance ready for Skate Canada. “We knew it was the right decision. We felt comfortable with the decision and with each other. But it was sad, because we put a lot of time and effort into the Elvis Program. We had to switch completely and to forget about it,” Poje continued.

The free dance, luckily, remained untouched. The program to "On the Nature of Daylight“ by Max Richter is right up their alley and suits their passionate, emotional style of skating. The Canadians had four-level four and three level-three elements in their dance and scored a seasons best to win the title. “We couldn’t be more pleased with the way this event unfolded. We had a lot to focus on between the two programs and we were able to come together and really perform the best we could for right now,” Weaver said.

Maia and Alex Shibutani (USA) had to overcome a disappointing start of the season at the Nepela Trophy in September where they finished only third behind Piper Gilles & Paul Poirier and Penny Coomes & Nicholas Buckland. But the brother-and-sister team used the time since then to work on their levels. They interpret Waltz, Polka and March in a playful way in “Coppelia” for the short dance and had a level four and two for the Waltz pattern and lots of positive GOEs. Especially the twizzles were excellent.

“We love this program so much. It is great for us to have characters, especially when it is a short dance. It really allows us to show our funny side, humorous, a little bit cheeky, but at the same time still show that elegance of the Waltz. We’re really proud of the program and we’re happy with the step that we made today,” Maia Shibutani said.

For the free dance they chose “Fix You” by Coldplay and danced in simple, black costumes. The levels were the best of the day, with level four for everything but the two step sequences that were graded a level three. With 102.36 points, the siblings almost equaled their personal best score from the 2015 World Championships. “We’ve been skating really well all week. This summer went well as far as preparation. We really believe in our programs. The competition this week was a tremendous experience for us. It was a great way to start off the Grand Prix series,“ Alex Shibutani commented.

Ekaterina Bobrova & Dmitri Soloviev (RUS) returned on to the international scene for the first time since the 2014 Olympic Winter Games.

They had withdrawn from the 2014 World Championships as he suffered an injury and then sat out the following season as he underwent knee surgery and took a long time to recover fully. The Russians had planned to compete at the Challenger Series event in Saransk earlier in October, but Bobrova fell sick with a stomach upset and they had to withdraw.

So Skate Canada became a little nerve-wrecking debut after being out for so long. But the 2013 European Champions coped well. They made no error in their short dance to “Waltz Masquerade” and “Dance of the Knights” from Sergei Prokofiev’s “Romeo and Juliet” and in their free dance to “Anna Karenina.

The levels were good, too, the couple just needs to add a bit more speed and emotion to their performance which will for sure come the more they compete. “I was very nervous,” Soloviev admitted. “This is a little step in our renewed carrier, as we missed the whole season. But we’ve done a lot during this time and we’re not ready to stop. I am truly happy to come back,” Bobrova said and added that their team celebrates their 15th anniversary on November 1.

Christine Guignard & Marco Fabbri of Italy turned in two solid performance to Italian songs in the short dance and to “Schindler’s List” and “Romeo and Juliet” in the free dance to finish fourth.

Ksenia Monko & Kirill Khaliavin (RUS) were as often somewhat a bit conservative but skated well to come fifth with their free dance to “Torn” by Nathan Lanier and “Eternal” by William Joseph. The Russians overtook Alexandra Paul & Mitchell Islam (CAN) in the free. The Canadians skated clean, but three elements in their free dance to “Where is it Written” and “Happy” by Michel Legrand garnered only a level two.