Piper Gilles: Ready for my 'rookie' world championships

After months spent perfecting her programs with Canadian ice dance partner Paul Poirier, Piper Gilles writes that she's set to soak in her debut at the World Figure Skating Championships in London, Ont.

Ice dancer to make worlds debut in London, Ont.

Piper Gilles, right, will make her world championship debut in London, Ont., with ice dance partner Paul Poirier. (Fred Dufour/AFP/Getty Images)

Some athletes find training for an event stressful. Others say it’s calming. We have so many emotions and so many questions: Did we do enough work on that one move we’ve had trouble with? What do I need to pack? Are my costumes still all sewn together?

It’s all made for a long couple of weeks leading up to the World Figure Skating Championships in London, Ont., for me and my ice dance partner, Paul Poirier.

We began our season way back in February of last year, and that’s both good and bad. It gave us lots of time to prepare, but it’s also hard to maintain focus for that many days. That’s especially evident at this stage of the season, when it’s so important to maintain that necessary drive and determination.

These last couple weeks have shown how much strength and willpower is needed. To keep my mind fresh and busy I’ve been looking ahead to next year by listening to new music and going to movies to try and get some inspiration. I mean, I love my current music and programs and all, but after doing them over and over and listening to our music over and over, it feels like it’s time to start fresh with new music and costumes. I know I’m super-excited about those new costumes! But the current countdown continues.

Our last few days of training have gone really well. Our bodies seem to be moving like they’re on autopilot, which is a good thing. They seem to do everything we have trained them to do. It means we’re ready to start the last hike to the top of the peak. 

That climb to the top is when the excitement and nerves start to kick in. For me and Paul, there’s more excitement than nerves as we are so happy to be at our first world championships together.

As a new team on the international circuit, it’s hard to really place where we stand in the world. Our goal is to go in with our heads held high and to soak up the entire experience.

Once this year is completed, I can bottle up all these new experiences and put my rookie year behind me. (I was born in the U.S., but I’m turning into a Canadian with my hockey terms!) Being a rookie in any sport is challenging.  Suddenly you’re competing with the "big dogs" — the people you’ve looked up to your entire life.

Now, some people consider me to be a "big dog." Wait. When did this happen? As much as this scares me, it also inspires me. I always like to tell myself: do one thing in life that scares you, because if you never try to overcome your fears, you’ll never become the athlete you dream of being. Now here I am, going to worlds!

I can’t even begin to think of all the people and coaches who have put up with me over the years, but I do know that I must thank my most amazing partner and coaches for taking a chance on me.  You guys are a dream come true!

On that note I must bid you adieu and head off to London. Let’s go Canada!

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