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Lift problems plague Virtue, Moir at Canadians

Reigning Olympic gold medalists win fifth national title; Gilles, Poirier headed to first worlds

Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir hope they have their lifts sorted out by the time they compete at the 2013 World Championships.
Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir hope they have their lifts sorted out by the time they compete at the 2013 World Championships. (Getty Images)

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By Lois Elfman, special to icenetwork.com
(01/21/2013) - On Monday, Skate Canada introduced part of its team for the 2013 World Figure Skating Championships, to be held in London, Ontario. Obvious team members include two-time and defending men's champion Patrick Chan, two-time Canadian pairs champions Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford, newly crowned ladies champion Kaetlyn Osmond and reigning Olympic and world ice dance champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, who won their fifth Canadian title in six years on Sunday afternoon.

It wasn't the smoothest of victories at the 2013 Canadian Championships for Virtue, 23, and Moir, 25, who received deductions in their free skate to Carmen for holding two lifts longer than the time permitted. Moir said coach Marina Zoueva would use a stopwatch in upcoming practices.

"[Ice dancing] is a bit fussy," Moir was quoted as saying in The Canadian Press. "To be honest, we were kind of excited because that was an awesome skate for us. There was no doubt in our minds. That's exactly what we want to do. Now, the [violations] don't take away from it, but it would be nice to have a big number to go home and work off of.

"To lose the points -- it is disheartening, but it's easy too at the same time," he continued. "At least we have them in black and white, on paper. I always find it a lot more difficult to go home and try and fix the program component scores, where you have no idea where the judges' brains are at."

Finishing with the silver medal and also named to the Canadian world team are Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier. In their second season together, Gilles and Poirier, both 21, have shown consistent progress and earned praise from the judges.

"It was so nice to have nationals really close to home," Poirier said.

They train in Scarborough, Ontario, not far from Toronto.

"We had a lot of family members and people from our club come to cheer," he said. "The crowd really helped us get through the performance.

"Piper and I felt we skated extremely well," he added. "Our performances weren't perfect yet, which is good because we have two more competitions to really get the programs at their maximum potential."

Poirier said the competition felt a bit weird without three-time silver medalists Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje, who withdrew due to Weaver's ankle injury suffered last month.

Adding to the somewhat off dynamic were falls by Kharis Ralph and Asher Hill in the short dance and Alexandra Paul and Mitchell Islam in the free dance. He and Gilles tried to put the distractions out of their minds and focus on their performances.

"We know how hard it is to deal with setbacks," Poirier said.

Last year, despite finishing third, he and Gilles were not eligible to compete internationally as she had previously represented the U.S. That is now resolved, and they made their international debut last fall, winning the 2012 U.S. International Classic and competing at Skate Canada and Trophée Eric Bompard.

"As athletes, we want the competition to be the best possible," he said. "We want to entertain the audience as much as we can and really give them a good competition. It makes it more exciting for us, too, when everyone is skating their best and we really are pushing ourselves."

Skate Canada will name the third man and third ice dance duo for its world team after the Four Continents Figure Skating Championships in Osaka, Japan, next month. Surprise bronze medalists Nicole Orford and Thomas Williams will make the trip to Osaka in the hope of getting that third spot should Weaver not be recovered in time.

"Back on the ice tomorrow," Poirier said. "We leave in two weeks. It's very fast between nationals and Four Continents.

"A first Four Continents for Piper, so it's very exciting," he added. "We're obviously also looking forward to worlds and having them here in Canada."