Weaver, Poje anything but 'Malade' before worlds

Canadian dance duo looks to cap off successful season in Nice

Canadians Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje have won a medal at five of six events this year.
Canadians Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje have won a medal at five of six events this year. (Getty Images)


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By Lois Elfman, special to
(03/19/2012) - Canadian silver medalists Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje entered this season with the goal of winning a medal at every competition they entered. They've succeeded at five out of six events -- their lone fourth-place finish was at the Grand Prix Final -- so that is certainly a realistic goal heading to the 2012 World Figure Skating Championships in Nice, France.

"When we get there, we won't think about placement," Weaver said during a teleconference Monday morning. "It becomes more about doing the right things we think we need to do to make our programs complete. It's the same job we've been doing all year long, so that's not going to change. That's what we're best at is staying focused, doing our job, and then we'll see what comes out."

After strong performances at the 2012 Canadian Championships and the Four Continents Championships, Weaver, 22, and Poje, 25, have felt in the right groove to bring their successful season to a very satisfying conclusion.

Weaver said they came back from the Four Continents Championships feeling re-energized and determined to make the most of the detailed feedback they'd received about things they need to improve heading into worlds.

"We've been practicing great," Weaver said. "We've been having fun and really celebrating this season in these last few weeks leading into the competition. Overall, I'd say that we're stronger than we were at the last competition. Our levels are better, and we have a better performance quality. Everything seems to be coming together at the right time."

Heading into this season, Weaver and Poje took on a packed schedule of competitions: They were only ice dance team to do three Grand Prix events. They won silver medals at all three -- Skate Canada, NHK Trophy and Rostelecom Cup -- sending them to their second Grand Prix Final.

"As soon as we finished the free dance at the Grand Prix Final, I was pretty happy," Weaver said. "It was the moment where I thought, 'Wow, we've handled the pressure.' We've really performed that free dance to the best of our abilities every time we've been out.

"Ever since that moment ... I feel we're skating with a different confidence," she added. "That's where we knew, I think, this could be a really good season for us."

Poje noted that doing three Grand Prix events helped them grow stronger as a team.

"It helped us grow confidence and to prove not only to the audience and the judges but also to ourselves that we belong at the top," he said. "We've done the work that we need to, and we continue to do the work to try and be better to challenge for the top spots."

A huge part of their success has been their passionate and intense free dance set to the song "Je Suis Malade." Amazingly, it was suggested by a fan.

"Andrew and I were really perplexed at the end of last season as to what direction we should go," Weaver said. "Pasquale [Camerlengo, their coach and choreographer] had a vision, but we couldn't find the right music. We knew we wanted to do something passionate and maybe a little bit more on the modern side of movement quality. But we just couldn't put our finger on exactly what we wanted to do."

An anonymous message came through their Web site,, directing them to Lara Fabian's rendition of "Je Suis Malade," a song originally performed by Serge Lama in 1973. In order to comply with ISU rules about change of tempo and rhythm, Karl Hugo composed some additional sections to provide the program with greater variations.

Weaver and Poje are especially excited to perform the song, which has French lyrics, before a French audience.

"I feel we do a good job of showing the meaning no matter what country we're in, but I think it's going to be extra special when all the people in the audience can relate to this song," said Weaver.

As a long and intense season nears its conclusion, Weaver and Poje are still feeling fresh and eager. Poje credited an off-ice training regimen they did last summer as well as careful planning by their coaches.

"On the ice, we've been building and building," Poje said. "Our coaches set out a schedule at the beginning of the season that kind of works through a cycle. We know when we need to build up the stamina, but we also need to know when we have to have that break in it to re-energize our bodies and also re-energize our minds. The mental stamina is more key for us because there are so many times we have to get to that high and that rush to be in competition."

The weeks since the Four Continents Championships have been the longest stretch at their Detroit training base since this season began. They've been training intently to achieve maximum physical conditioning.

"We've also been working at the little details to make sure that all the little things come together. We don't want to miss any little nuances throughout the programs because this is going to be the last time we'll perform them in a competitive atmosphere," Poje said. "We want to make sure we're on top of our game."