Ice Network

Weaver, Poje win national title in familiar setting

Team returns to site of first Canadian championships, brings home gold
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Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje say that they enjoy competing at the Canadian championships because it gives them a chance to connect with their fans. -Getty Images

So far, so good for Canadian ice dancers Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje, who won their second Canadian title Saturday.

"Andrew and I are very, very happy to now call ourselves two-time national champions," Weaver, 26, said. "We're officially not a blip on the radar; we're consecutive.

"Today was a good performance," she continued. "We've been working a lot on detailing the program -- mainly with our choreographer, Shae-Lynn Bourne -- and letting this program grow. Today wasn't perfect, because we've been implementing those changes on the fly, but our main focus is to peak at Four Continents and worlds. This was a great step in the right direction."

Always impeccably costumed, Weaver thanked the team's costumer, Debra Hanson, for helping bring their vision for the total package to life. Weaver's mother found the inspiration for the short dance dress on Pinterest.

It has been a season of growth for the two-time world medalists, who continually try to push themselves technically and artistically each year. Weaver said the free dance has taken a bit of time to develop.

"We are not resting on any laurels of any kind. We have a lot of work still to do before the next two events," she said.

This year's Canadian championships are in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The last time the event was held there was 2007 -- the first year that Weaver and Poje competed at Canadians.

Returning to Halifax has made them a bit sentimental and given them perspective on how strong their partnership has become.

"It feels like a full circle experience," said Poje, 28, who likened the Canadian championships to a family reunion. "It feels special. This is where it all started for our career together. It feels nice to come back here and realize how far we've come, and also where we still have to go."

Poje remembers what it was like to be a young competitor, wondering what it takes to get to the top. Now veteran competitors, he and Weaver take their place as role models seriously.

"We're still trying to feel out how we can really help out," Poje said. "We're trying to be good role models. We're trying to do what we can to make [young competitors] feel proud to be competing at nationals and also make them feel calm, not to worry so much -- just go out there and be the best they can be."

The novice dance champions, Olivia Han and Grayson Lochhead, are coached by Poje's first coach, and he spent some time talking with Han.

"I wanted her to take in all she could so that she experienced the joy of skating, and to remember that," Poje said. "That's one thing I try to do every day."

Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier repeated as silver medalists, and the bronze medal went to Elisabeth Paradis and François-Xavier Ouellette, who were just fifth a year ago.

Weaver and Poje appreciate all the opportunities the sport provides, and the national championships reinforces their gratitude.

"Everyone who has been a part of our journey and watched us through the years, we get to perform for them," Weaver said. "To hear the feedback and the thoughts that we're making them proud is so nice, and it's a big confidence booster. It gives us the belief that we need going into the second part of the year."