Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier pose in their free skate

Paul Poirier

Biography

Paul Poirier and Piper Gilles achieved a career highlight at the 2021 ISU World Championships where they won the bronze medal in ice dance. It was their first time standing on the world championship podium in their eighth time competing at the event. They placed second in the free dance to move up from fourth place after the rhythm dance. Because of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was their first live competition in 13 months, since they had won silver at the 2020 Four Continents Championships. That had come just a few weeks after they won their first national title together in January 2020.  

Poirier teamed up with Gilles in July 2011. At their first national championships together in January 2012, they won the bronze medal in ice dance but were ineligible to compete internationally that season because Gilles had competed for the United States the year prior. They debuted as a couple on the ISU Grand Prix in the fall of 2012 and competed at their first world championships together in 2013. 

In May 2013, Poirier suffered a right ankle fracture dislocation and underwent surgery to insert plates and screws. They were able to compete at the 2014 Canadian championships, but weren’t quite physically or technically ready to take their best shot at qualifying for Sochi 2014 and missed the Olympic team by one spot. That fueled their fire for the next quadrennial.  After winning silver at the 2014 Four Continents Championships, they had one of their strongest seasons in 2014-15, winning a pair of silver medals on the Grand Prix series and qualifying for the Grand Prix Final. They went on to post a then-career-best finish at the world championships, placing sixth. 

Gaining a reputation as innovative skaters who try to do the opposite of what people expect, Gilles and Poirier had their partial step sequence from the 2015-16 short dance adopted as a new pattern dance by the ISU and dubbed the Maple Leaf March. They had been struggling with that program all season, tweaking it constantly and changing the music entirely three weeks before the worlds, where they ended up placing fifth in the short dance to put them into the final flight for the free dance. At the 2017 World Championships they recorded their second straight eighth-place finish. 

Gilles and Poirier qualified for their first Olympics together with their silver medal at the 2018 Canadian Championships. At PyeongChang 2018, they recorded yet another eighth-place finish. They followed up by matching their then-career-best world championship result a month later.

During the 2018-19 season, Gilles and Poirier won two Grand Prix medals in the fall and finished seventh at the world championships. Their free dance that year to “Vincent” by Govardo was the first of their “programs for the people” – a theme they continued over the next three seasons – as they found the right balance between being innovative and creating a program accessible to a wide audience. 

Gilles and Poirier gained more momentum in the 2019-20 season when they earned their first Grand Prix victory at Skate Canada International and captured silver at the Rostelecom Cup to qualify for their first Grand Prix Final in five years. They qualified for the Grand Prix final again in 2021-22 after winning another gold medal at Skate Canada International, but the event was cancelled due to another wave of the pandemic. 

Poirier had a prior successful partnership with Vanessa Crone that included a world junior silver medal in 2008, a Canadian title in 2011, and competing at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games.

A Little More About Paul

Getting into the Sport: Started skating at age five… Was put into hockey along with his brothers but instead of chasing the puck would spin on the faceoff dots… Once enrolled in figure skating, loved being able to do what he wanted… From ages 9 to 18 he split his time between ice dance and men’s singles; focused on ice dance because his career was more established and he liked the artistic freedom it provided… Outside Interests: Completed his Bachelor of Arts in linguistics at the University of Toronto in 2015…   Has always been passionate about language, so spends a lot of time reading and doing linguistics research… Enjoys exploring local food markets, cooking, finding new restaurants, loitering in coffee shops… Athlete representative with CAN Fund… Odds and Ends: Admires partner Piper for her ability to perform with abandon and be present in each moment, something he’s strived to learn from her to grow as an athlete an artist… Favourite Olympic memory is walking into the Vancouver 2010 Opening Ceremony… Favourite quote: “Work is love made visible.” – Khalil Gibran…

Olympic Highlights

Games Sport Event Finish
Vancouver 2010Figure SkatingIce Dance - Mixed14
PyeongChang 2018Figure SkatingIce Dance - Mixed8

Notable International Results

Olympic Winter Games: 2018 - 8th (ice dance w/ Gilles); 2010 - 14th (ice dance w/ Crone)

ISU World Championships: 2021 - BRONZE (ice dance w/ Gilles); 2019 - 7th (ice dance w/ Gilles); 2018 - 6th (ice dance w/ Gilles); 2017 - 8th (ice dance w/ Gilles); 2016 - 8th (ice dance w/ Gilles); 2015 - 6th (ice dance w/ Gilles); 2014 - 8th (ice dance w/ Gilles); 2013 - 18th (ice dance w/ Gilles); 2011 - 10th (ice dance w/ Crone); 2010 - 7th (ice dance w/ Crone); 2009 - 12th (ice dance w/ Crone)

ISU Four Continents Championships: 2020 - SILVER (ice dance w/ Gilles); 2019 - BRONZE (ice dance w/ Gilles); 2017 - 6th (ice dance w/ Gilles); 2016 - 5th (ice dance w/ Gilles); 2015 - 4th (ice dance w/ Gilles); 2014 - SILVER (ice dance w/ Gilles); 2013 - 5th (ice dance w/ Gilles); 2011 - SILVER (ice dance w/ Crone); 2009 - 4th (ice dance w/ Crone)

ISU Grand Prix Final: 2021 – Cancelled; 2019 – 5th (ice dance w/ Poirier); 2014 – 5th (ice dance w/ Poirier)

ISU World Junior Championships: 2008 - SILVER (ice dance w/ Crone); 2007 - 9th (ice dance w/ Crone)