Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje have given Canada its second medal of the 2015 ISU World Figure Skating Championships, taking the bronze in ice dance.
Like their teammates (and roommates) Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford, Weaver and Poje had gone to Shanghai in the midst of an undefeated season and with their eyes squarely on the gold medal after missing the top step of the podium last year by just 0.02 of a point. A low level on an element left them in second place after the short dance, behind Americans Madison Chock and Evan Bates.
Weaver and Poje then drew the first spot in the final flight, meaning they were the first of the title contenders to skate. They achieved the highest level of difficulty on all elements except their two step sequences. But they were also penalized for a lift that went beyond the allowed six seconds. Weaver was visibly disappointed when their marks, which were below their season’s best, were shown.
They placed third in the free skate behind the Americans and Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France. The French team, who are coached in Montreal by Canadian Olympians and two-time world medallists Marie-France Dubreuil and Patrice Lauzon, delivered a beautiful performance which was also deemed to be technically the strongest of the event. That moved them up from fourth place after the short dance to take the gold.
Canada had two teams in the top six, with Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier moving up one spot from the short dance thanks to a personal best score. Those results ensure that three Canadian dance teams will compete at next year’s world championships in Boston. Canada’s third entry, Alexandra Paul and Mitchell Islam, finished 13th.
Thursday: Duhamel & Radford a golden pair
They entered the free skate with a 4.39 point lead after a beautiful and confident short program. Skating second of the four pairs in the final flight, Duhamel put her hands down on the landing of the throw quad Salchow and Radford bobbled in the side-by-side spins but their free skate score of 144.55 was enough to give them the title by 7.41 points over China’s Wenjing Sui and Cong Han. Another Chinese team, Qing Pang and Jian Tong, took the bronze in the final competitive performance of their careers.
In the kiss-and-cry after the event, the normally talkative Duhamel said that she had no words for the first time in her life. This has been a personal season for the duo who decided to continue skating for themselves after the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games. Their overall score of 221.53 bettered their own previous mark as the best in the world this season.
During the in-arena interview Radford was able to come up with some words to describe the moment. “We’re so excited. We’re extremely proud of ourselves. This is a dream come true for us. You never know if you’ll be able to stand on top of a world podium no matter how hard you work.”
World bronze medallists the last two years, the Canadians have dominated the pairs’ event this season, bolstered by their huge start value thanks to technical elements such as side-by-side triple Lutzes and the throw quad Salchow. They are the only team in the world to have both in their arsenal.
Canada had two other entries in Shanghai. Making their senior international debut were this year’s world junior silver medallists Julianne Seguin and Charlie Bilodeau. Tenth after the short program, they had an outstanding free skate to finish eighth overall.
Their placement combined with that of Duhamel and Radford ensures that Canada will again send three pairs to next year’s world championships in Boston.
Also competing at their first world championships together were Lubov Ilyushechkina and Dylan Moscovitch. Eleventh after the short, they had a strong start to their free skate but trouble on the death spiral meant that element was not counted and an early exit to their final lift left them in 13th place overall.
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