Feature photo: Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier (right) on the podium at Skate America.

Canadian figure skaters came away from the first Grand Prix stop of the season with a pair of bronze medals.

First to the podium at Skate America in Milwaukee were Julianne Seguin and Charlie Bilodeau who surprised even themselves with their third place finish in the pairs event in their Grand Prix debut.

Julianne Seguin and Charlie Bilodeau (third on the podium, right) at Skate America in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on October 24, 2015.

Julianne Seguin and Charlie Bilodeau (third on the podium, right) at Skate America in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on October 24, 2015.

“Wow. I mean when I arrived here, our only goal was to increase our score and that’s it,” said Bilodeau. “We just skate like we do at home. The bronze medal is really great for our first Grand Prix and I’m really proud of that.”

The reigning world junior silver medallists were fourth after the short program with a personal best score. An impressive free skate allowed them to increase their overall personal best mark by more than 11 points from their eighth place finish at the world championships last March. They also moved up a place to keep Olympic silver medallists Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov of Russia off the podium by 0.43 points.

Ice dancers Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier also finished in third place, behind world silver medallists Madison Chock and Evan Bates as well as Russians Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov, a duo in their second season together. Katsalapov won bronze at Sochi 2014 with his former partner Elena Ilinykh.

Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier at Skate America on October 24, 2015.

Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier at Skate America on October 24, 2015.

“I think Piper and I are really pleased with the progress we’ve made this season,” said Poirier. “This year has definitely been an improvement in terms of consistency early in the season. This isn’t the placement that we wanted necessarily, but we are definitely going to look at the judges’ comments and implement as much as we can before the Grand Prix in France.”

Gilles and Poirier had come in as the second ranked team in the event following their sixth place finish at the world championships. They’re hoping to qualify for the Grand Prix Final for the second straight season.

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