Training ramps up for Weaver, Poje

Canadian dance team sets their sights high

Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje aim to eventually win an Olympic medal.
Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje aim to eventually win an Olympic medal. (Getty Images)


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By Lois Elfman, special to
(07/06/2011) - When the 2011 World Championships were delayed for several weeks, Canadian ice dancing silver medalists Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje kept up their training in the hopes of having an opportunity to show the judges and spectators how much they had changed since their last trip to worlds in 2008. They had already showcased their improvement by earning their first trip to the ISU Grand Prix Final and wanted to confirm that impressive showing with even better performances.

With worlds ultimately moved from its original site of Tokyo to Moscow, where it took place in late April, Weaver and Poje knew their goal for the season was in sight. They did not want to lose preparation time for 2011-12, so they joined their rink mates in Detroit that did not qualify for worlds in taking ballroom dance lessons in preparation for next season's short dance, which is centered on two patterns of the rumba compulsory dance.

"We took ballroom lessons with them. Not as seriously as they were, because they were starting their programs already, but it was a way for us to do something different and open our minds a little bit," says Weaver. "It got us going with the Latin rhythm. It gave us the feeling ahead of time so we wouldn't have to be so crammed after worlds finished.

"It gave us a breath of fresh air, if you will, and something to have fun with. In turn, that gave us the feeling, the rhythm and some of the basics for starting the Latin dances after worlds."

Weaver and Poje finished an impressive fifth place at worlds, asserting not only their position as serious contenders, but also the undeniable fact that North America is now the center of power in ice dancing. Four of the top five teams in the world come from either the U.S. or Canada.

Immediately following worlds Weaver and Poje gave themselves a well deserved break, going with a group of friends to Nicaragua for a week's vacation. Stress abated, they returned to their training base in Detroit to begin preparations in earnest for next season.

"As soon as we got home we were listening to music and playing around with choreography and trying to reestablish our technical skills again," says Weaver.

It's been five years since Weaver, 22, and Poje, 24, teamed up. Weaver became a Canadian citizen two years ago. Although disappointed about not qualifying for the 2010 Canadian Olympic team, they were undeterred from pursuing their long-term goal, which is to medal at the Olympics.

For the coming season, they've been assigned three Grand Prix events: Skate Canada, NHK Trophy and Cup of Russia. After setting the bar high with last season's short dance, they're looking forward to season two of this new concept in ice dancing, which combines a compulsory and original dance.

"We have a very creative way of incorporating the compulsory into the dance," says Weaver. "We're definitely taking a very classic ballroom standpoint. We've been having a lot of fun with it so far. We just finished it. I think it's going to be a great program for us."

"When they first proposed the meshing of the compulsory and the OD, I wasn't a fan," says Poje. He and Weaver both say how much they enjoyed skating compulsories.

"Everyone had to figure out what was going to work and what wasn't going to work," he continues. "I think people now have a grasp on what needs to be accomplished in the program. It will end up being a great vehicle for everyone, especially for us because we still have the compulsory aspect that we enjoy doing, but also get the creativity of interpreting the music with the dance."

In Detroit, they work with coaches Pasquale Camerlengo and Anjelika Krylova. They also continue to work with Shae-Lynn Bourne, going to Toronto to train with her as well as having her come to Detroit. Bourne recently visited and worked with Camerlengo in laying down the basis for next season's free dance. Weaver and Poje say all three coaches bring invaluable elements to their skating.

"Pasquale for me is more than a skating coach," says Weaver. "He teaches us something new about skating and something new about life every single day.

"He's always thinking and always creating. I'm always surprised."

An important thing Camerlengo brought to their skating last season was the attitude of holding nothing back.

"He's right, we'll never reach the top unless we push the limit in our performance level," Weaver says. "That's what motivated us every single day to push ourselves and not be afraid of the outcome."

Krylova is the technician.

"She knows how to get us together and to bring that base structure," says Poje. "She also knows how to push us, where she needs to force us to work harder and where she needs us to express. She knows how to train properly. She gets us prepared and feeling mentally and physically ready to compete at any moment."

There are also the intangibles.

"I love how she can command attention in a room or in a rink anywhere in the world," says Weaver. "She's so strong. We've learned from her to try and capture the presence that she brings."

Weaver and Poje credit Bourne with bringing them to Camerlengo and Krylova.

"Because she's so developed as a skater herself, she knew what we needed," Weaver says. "She gave us that gateway to our new experiences that we're in right now. She continues to be involved and push us on our limits."

Bourne also has a lot to do with the couple's look and costuming on the ice. They have total trust her sense of visual presentation.

Choreography for the short dance is done and awaits fine-tuning by a ballroom expert. The free dance is still a work in progress.

"We have chosen our music and we have started work on the creation of the program, but it's still in the development stages," Poje says. "We do not have a complete package yet, but we're on our way. We're on track."

You can follow them on Twitter @WeaverPoje.