Ice dancers Gilles, Poirier send message with Skate Canada win
Canadians captured 1st career Grand Prix title last weekend
Winning the gold medal in ice dancing at Skate Canada wasn't just a confidence boost for Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier, it was a way of changing how the skating world perceives them.
"It's important for us and for the judges to know that we're capable of that," said Gilles on Thursday. "Our sport is subjective and people go with the people who've already won a few things before. It's easy to go 'yeah these guys are good, we'll continue to score them high because of what they've done.'
"It's not that they aren't good, it's just that for us to take the next step we need everyone to believe a little bit more in us and what we're capable of. Whereas before we really had to prove to everyone that we were good."
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Gilles and Poirier, who are based in Toronto, started dancing together in 2011 but had never won at the highest levels of competition.
"I think Piper and I have gotten a lot of respect for the work we've done and that the work that we and our coaches have produced," said Poirier. "I think part of it is the psychological reality of confirmation bias where people go into the competition with these established hierarchies in their brains and you have to shake things up so much to break those biases.
"That's just how psychology works. What we've learned over time in the skating world is the only way to make sure that you win is to be so obviously better than everybody else that they can't do anything else."
Reaping rewards of productive off-season
Poirier thinks their success in Kelowna was because of a productive off-season where both were completely healthy and able to fully commit to their training. Between Skate Canada and the Autumn Classic in Oakville, Ont., — which they won on Sept. 14 — they worked on some technical issues with their lift.
Now the aim is to keep building as they prepare for the Rostelecom Cup in Moscow, Nov. 15-17.
"Leading up to each competition we give ourselves a goal of 'these are the things we want to focus on' while we're doing our run-throughs," said Poirier. "If you just repeat mindlessly you won't actually do anything better. You'll get in better shape, but you won't improve."
Although Gilles and Poirier won't be competing for two weeks, other members of Canada's figure skating team are in action this weekend at the Internationaux de France in Grenoble. Nicolas Nadeau will skate in the men's singles event, Camille Ruest and Andrew Wolfe will represent Canada in the pairs and Carolane Soucisse and Shane Firus are in the ice dancing entry.