Gilles gets citizenship, Olympics a possibilityCanadian ice dancer eyes podium finish at nationals
Piper Gilles is one step closer to making her Olympic dream a reality.
The ice dancer, who competes with Paul Poirier, became a Canadian citizen in a ceremony Tuesday in Scarborough, Ontario, a move that makes her eligible to represent Canada at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.
"I have felt like a Canadian citizen for some time, and I am extremely excited that it is now official," Gilles said. "I've dreamed about competing in the Olympics my whole life and hope to be in Sochi next year. There is no bigger stage than the Olympics, and it would be an honor to represent Canada in front of the entire world."
Canada has three ice dance spots in Sochi, two of which are almost assuredly going to be filled by reigning Olympic gold medalists Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir and three-time Canadian silver medalists Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje. The third spot would appear to be up for grabs and come down to one of three teams: Alexandra Paul and Mitchell Islam, Nicole Orford and Thomas Williams, and Gilles and Poirier.
"This sets up an exciting battle in ice dance at the upcoming 2014 Canadian Tire National Skating Championships," Skate Canada CEO Dan Thompson said. "We have three Olympic placements for eligible teams, and this adds one more team into the very strong ice dance field competing for those spots."
Born in Illinois, Gilles moved to Canada in 2011 to train with Poirier. Her mother, Bonnie Gilles, is a dual citizen of Canada and the United States.
At their Grand prix assignments this fall, Gilles and Poirier finished fifth at the NHK Trophy and sixth at the Rostelecom Cup. They won the silver at their country's national championships last season (after Weaver and Poje withdrew) and bronze in 2012.