The Inside Edge with Sarah and Drew - July 20

Dancing feet, tea parties and new additions

Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje celebrate her Canadian citizenship.
Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje celebrate her Canadian citizenship. (Tina Weltz, Calla Studios)


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By Sarah S. Brannen and Drew Meekins, special to
(07/20/2009) - Sarah S. Brannen and Drew Meekins cover all the bases in the latest version of The Inside Edge, from Dorota and Mariusz Siudek's new addition to Madison Chock's spontaneous trip to Paris and more!

Dancing feet

Our thoughts turned to dance this week, so we called a few ice dancers, namely Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje and Madison Chock and Greg Zuerlein.

Kaitlyn and Drew go way back, by the way. They used to train together when she was working with Iveta Ice in Boston. Kaitlyn and Andrew teamed up three years ago this month and clicked right away, earning the bronze medal at the Canadian national championships and the bronze at the junior world championships. These days, they split their time between Toronto, where they work with Shae-Lynn Bourne, and Detroit, where they train with Pasquale Camerlengo."

"We are on the direction that we want to be," said Andrew. "We have been treating every day like it means the most. We have been spending time in Detroit and Toronto, and we have a great balance now."

Andrew also mentioned that some of the Canadian national team members call him "Mongoose," although the reason seems somewhat unclear.

Moving on to serious matters, Kaitlyn became a Canadian citizen on June 22, so she and Andrew will be able to compete at the Olympics next year if they make the team. We asked them to tell us all about the citizenship ceremony, which took place in Andrew's hometown of Kitchener, Ontario. (Andrew mentioned that he was a volunteer at the 2005 World Juniors in Kitchener, and he and Kaitlyn are both excited that Skate Canada will be there this fall).

"My ceremony was great," said Kaitlyn. "It was very cool to see all of the other immigrants and hear where they came from. Some of the people were from Sudan, China, India, Egypt, Kenya, Germany, Russia and Ukraine. The judge asked me to give a speech to the group to inspire them for the Olympics and tell a story that they can relate to."

"It was amazing to see," said Andrew.

After the ceremony, Andrew's family had a reception for Kaitlyn and all the people who have been influential on their career.

"I was actually shocked when a lot of the guests brought me Canadian-themed gifts like flags, t-shirts, and socks," said Kaitlyn. "Ones with little Canada flags on them. It was a great day; we were all so happy."

We tore ourselves away from the sock discussion and tried to focus on skating. We wondered how their new programs were coming along.

"We have our free dance finished, but we have not started our original dance yet," said Kaitlyn. "Shae-Lynn is making final decisions on the music."

The free dance will be to The Phantom of the Opera, which led us to wonder whether they would be acting out the story.

"I will be Christine, and Andrew will be the Phantom," said Kaitlyn. "We studied the story and the emotions behind the story and incorporated it into our program. Every year, we collaborate and write a story about our program. Of course, most people know the plot of Phantom of the Opera, but we make sure every piece of the choreography has relevance so that the audience can identify with it."

"There is some choreography that interprets the mask," added Andrew. "So we are still involving the mask, sort of, but there is no actual mask."

So they actually write down the story of all their programs?

"It makes the program much easier to convey that way," said Andrew.

"We love to tell stories," said Kaitlyn. "I can't tell you how many times we watched Dr. Zhivago last year. The Phantom story is about a page. I can't remember exactly how long Dr. Zhivago was, but I'm sure it was similar. Actually I think we might have gone a bit more in depth for this one. I was quite interested to find out recently that almost every version of Phantom (the movie) is different, which is also different from the original book and the play."

"I have watched a couple times," added Andrew, "But I am interested in watching some of the older versions to see what is different. I saw it on stage when it was playing in Toronto, and I loved it."

Kaitlyn and Andrew were cagey about revealing their original dance selection. They hinted that they were leaning towards flamenco, which sounds exciting. What do they think about the ISU guidelines, which "recommend" that dance teams use their own traditional folk or country music?

"Well," said Kaitlyn, "I think the ISU is just trying to prevent there being 90 Russian dances, and so on. I think that North America has a great variety of different ideas, some of which we were interested in. American Indian or First Nations was an option, I believe."

"German polka," said Andrew, "Because I am half German."

We moved on to gossiping about the dance competition show, So You Think You Can Dance.

"I love that show," said Andrew. "We love all forms of dance."

Do they ever get inspired to take moves from the show onto the ice?

"We have, many times," said Andrew. "There are so many cool things that the show offers. We tried to be crash-test dummies the other day."

"Andrew and I decided that we were going to pool all of our money from our life together and get [choreographer] Mia Michaels," said Kaitlyn.

"We would just love for her to teach us movement," said Andrew.

"Even an off-ice class would be like, words can't even describe it," added Kaitlyn. "Some amazing word that only angels can say."

Tea and shopping

Next we tracked down Madison and Greg for a four-way conference call. Madison was out doing some shopping, shortly after celebrating her 17th birthday on July 2. How did she celebrate?

"Actually, I just skated, and then I had a costume fitting," she told us. "The only birthday thing I did was I had a dinner with some skaters. Greg got me a cast-iron teapot that's absolutely gorgeous. It's gold and pink. I love gold, and pink is my other favorite color. I love tea. I'm drinking iced tea right now!"

"I never know what to get Madi," said Greg. "I usually just get her a gift card, but this time I thought of something good."

Madison is very into fashion and loves shopping, Greg not so much. What does she like about fashion?

"I like how different you can be with it depending on your personality or how you're feeling that day. It's a good way to express yourself -- it can be part of your personality."

Greg told us that he's into lots of sports besides skating.

"I used to play soccer until I was 17," he said. "Then I had to pick either soccer or skating. A bunch of us from the rink usually go to the park and kick the ball around. I also used to play baseball.

"We have a softball team at the rink and Greg is the best player," chimed in Madison. "At least I think he is."

After winning the world junior title in March, Madison and Greg went right back to skating, but they took a week off and went to L.A. for the world championships. In April, Madison took a sudden and wholly unexpected trip to Paris -- lucky girl.

"I was supposed to go to Hawaii," she said, "But I ended up going to Paris with my dad. It was very last-minute -- when we decided to go, the flight left in three hours. So I had to unpack all my swimsuits and flip-flops and pack clothes for April in Paris instead. We were there for three-and-a-half days. It was one of the most spontaneous things I have ever done!"

Ok, back to skating. How have things changed since becoming world junior champions?

"It makes me want to push harder," said Madison. "If we can reach that goal, it makes us think we can reach others."

"Since we've only been skating together for three years, it's important to have a good friendship, to communicate well," said Greg. "You have to find the right person."

Madison and Greg will make their senior Grand Prix debut in the fall at the Cup of China and Skate America.

"We were really happy to get one Grand Prix, let alone two," said Greg. "We're looking forward to it, especially to Skate America."

"It'll definitely be a challenging year for us," added Madison. "We hope to come out with a lot of experience. It's a little intimidating."

"We're really looking forward to it. We want to show people that we're capable of competing at the top level," added Greg. Madison and Greg are planning to compete at the Lake Placid Ice Dance competition, although they are not sure which program(s) they'll be showing off yet.

Apart from skating, do they spend a lot of time together off the ice?

"Yeah, we do," said Madison. "We play sports together, hang out, watch movies. He doesn't come shopping with me or anything!"

A new pair skater?

Lastly, huge congratulations to Dorota and Mariusz Siudek, who welcomed their first child, baby Richard, on July 7. He was seven weeks early, but the whole family is well and happy. We wish them all the best!

Look for news from the Indy Pair Challenge in our next blog. We're hard at work getting ready, so wish us luck!

Sarah and Drew
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