Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier skate in dance hold

Piper Gilles

Biography

Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier 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.  

Gilles teamed up with Poirier 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. 

After Gilles was granted Canadian citizenship in December 2013, they had hoped to qualify for Sochi 2014, but were not quite physically or technically ready. Poirier was coming back from surgery to fix a right ankle fracture dislocation he had suffered in the spring of 2013. Missing the Olympic team 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. Pursuing her Olympic dream helped keep Gilles going at a difficult time when her mother Bonnie was battling an aggressive brain cancer. In the late stages of the disease, her mother watched from home as Gilles and Poirier placed eighth at PyeongChang 2018 and then matched their then-best ever world championship result, finishing sixth in Milan. Her mother sadly passed away in May 2018. 

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. 

After winning their second national title in 2022, Gilles and Poirier made their second Olympic appearance together at Beijing 2022. They helped Canada to a fourth-place finish in the team event and placed seventh in the ice dance event. They went on to earn a top-five finish at the 2022 World Championships.

A Little More About Piper

Getting into the Sport: Her older brother Todd was the first family member to start figure skating, which led to all of them trying it out… She entered her first competition at age 5… Twin sister Alexe was the United States’ junior ladies’ national champion in 2008 and competed internationally until 2010… Older brother Todd was also a competitive ice dancer who represented the United States internationally until 2011… Outside Interests: Has taken classes in Creative Industries at Ryerson University… Enjoys attending fashion shows and would eventually like to have her own line of sports clothing and design costumes for other skaters; is always looking for inspiration for their own costumes… Tries to do lots of things in the off-season, such as race car driving, water skiing, wine tasting, watching movies, going to sports games… Odds and Ends: Favourite motto: “Life is too short to not walk amongst the daisies”… Biggest role models have always been British ice dancers Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean because of how they tested the sport with their creativity and strength, something she and Poirier try to emulate…

Olympic Highlights

Games Sport Event Finish
PyeongChang 2018Figure SkatingIce Dance8
Beijing 2022Figure SkatingIce Dance7
Beijing 2022Figure SkatingTeam - Mixed4

Notable International Results

Olympic Winter Games: 2022 - 7th (ice dance w/ Poirier), 4th (team); 2018 - 8th (ice dance w/ Poirier)

ISU World Championships: 2022 - 5th (ice dance w/ Poirier); 2021 - BRONZE (ice dance w/ Poirier); 2019 - 7th (ice dance w/ Poirier); 2018 - 6th (ice dance w/ Poirier); 2017 - 8th (ice dance w/ Poirier); 2016 - 8th (ice dance w/ Poirier); 2015 - 6th (ice dance w/ Poirier); 2014 - 8th (ice dance w/ Poirier); 2013 - 18th (ice dance w/ Poirier)

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

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