Canadian ice dancers Piper Gilles, Paul Poirier win world silver

Silver medallists Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier of Canada pose during the victory ceremony for the ice dance competition at the 2024 ISU World Figure Skating Championships in Montreal, Saturday, March 23, 2024. (Graham Hughes/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

It’s still sinking in for Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier.

Standing at centre ice in the Bell Centre, the Canadian ice dance pair twirled and saluted to cheers from their home crowd after delivering a breathtaking performance that ultimately earned them silver medals Saturday at the world figure skating championships.

“I haven’t really fully digested it yet. It still feels like we haven’t done it,” Gilles said. “To be able to just stand there at the end and just embrace all of our friends and family that were here to experience that moment with us was just something we can only dream of.”

For Gilles and Poirier it was “a full-circle moment” as they recalled competing in their first worlds championship on home soil in London, Ont. in 2013.

“Ten, 11, 12 years later, we have a very different moment,” Gilles said. “But it’s still something so special, and now we’re closer to the top of the podium.”

Skating to the “Wuthering Heights” soundtrack by Ryuichi Sakamoto, Toronto’s Gilles and Poirier of Unionville, Ont., gave fans goosebumps and posted the best score of the free dance with a season-best 133.17 points.

As they watched the marks come up, Poirier had an astonished look on his face.

“I was exhausted,” he said, as laughs went around the Bell Centre press conference room. “We really gave our everything to the performance.”

They finished with 219.68 total points and twizzled their way up a spot on the podium after placing third in Friday’s rhythm dance. 

It’s their third medal at the worlds. They collected bronze in 2021 and 2023 — just months after Gilles had surgery for ovarian cancer.

The performance wasn’t enough to dethrone defending champions Madison Chock and Evan Bates of the United States.

But the ovation and cheers from the crowd — and the silver medals around their necks — had the Canadians beaming with pride.

“It was a mix of (exhaustion), of relief that it was done, relief that it had gone well, and joy that it had gone well and joy that we were able to just share a really special moment with that crowd and soak in all of their energy and love,” Poirier said.

Chock and Bates, the 2022 Olympic champions, captured gold with a season-best total score of 222.20 after placing first in the rhythm dance.

They became the most decorated American ice dancers at the worlds with five medals but aren’t sure if they’ll build on that haul and compete next season.

“We have a lot to celebrate coming up and a lot to evaluate before we jump into another season,” Chock said. “It isn’t out of the realm of possibility but also we’re not going to get ahead of ourselves.”

Gilles and Poirier, both 32, weren’t sure how long they’d go before hanging their blades up, either.

“When we feel like we don’t want to come into the rink every single day, I think is when you won’t see us anymore,” Gilles said.

Italy’s Charlene Guignard and Marco Fabbri claimed bronze (216.52). 

Marjorie Lajoie of Boucherville, Que., and Zachary Lagha of Saint-Hubert, Que., ranked fifth after a beautiful program to “Roses” by Jean-Michel Blais. 

They posted a personal-best 208.01 points despite the fact Lajoie suffered a concussion before the Canadian championships in January.

“We worked so hard for this moment, and with the adversity we had to be able to skate like this it’s the cherry on top,” Lajoie said.

The men’s singles free program was later Saturday to end the Montreal world championships.

It’s Montreal’s first time hosting the event since 1932. The city was supposed to stage the 2020 championship but the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the competition.

Boston will hold the 2025 competition.


Montreal’s Laurence Fournier Beaudry and Danish-Canadian partner Nikolaj Sorensen moved from 10th to ninth (199.91) in the competition while skating under the cloud of sexual assault allegations against Sorensen.

Sorensen and Fournier Beaudry withdrew from the Canadian championship in January after USA Today reported an American figure skating coach and former skater accused Sorensen of sexually assaulting her in 2012. The case is currently being probed by Canada’s Office of the Sport Integrity Commissioner and the allegations have not been proven in court.

USA Today reported Saturday that the attorney for Sorensen’s complainant, Nancy Hogshead, said another complaint is being filed against Sorensen with the OSIC for comments the ice dancer made on March 6 that she says amount to “retaliation” against the complainant.

“When something like that comes out in the media, the damage is kind of done and I think that was the intention more than anything,” Sorensen said about the allegations at the time.

Sorensen denied a chance to comment on the matter Saturday.

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