Ice Dance. Likely the most watched yet least understood discipline in figure skating. These two aspects are both the beauty and the pain as far as I am concerned, and I actually know what I am looking at!

I asked Chat GPT to give me a definition for ice dance and this is what came back: “Unlike other forms of figure skating, ice dance focuses primarily on the execution of intricate dance steps, intricate footwork, and seamless partner connection, all performed with elegance and precision.” I think this is a pretty good explanation.

What I love about the sport is that the expression that is carried out on the ice is as varied as the skaters. For me, Olympians and two-time World Bronze medallists, Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier always deliver new and interesting material every year. This year is no exception with a Rhythm Dance skated to modern music that includes Robert Palmer’s Addicted to Love and a Free Dance performed to music from the Wuthering Heights soundtrack.

In both programs the marriage between the concept, costume and choreography is magical.

“They are a beyond amazing dance team, they have always shown absolute commitment to their choices of material/music. This year in particular shows their artistic stature,” said Susie McGrigor veteran Ontario choreographer. “In a time when it seems EVERYONE is free- dancing to yet another ballad (ballads we most likely experienced in the singles and pair events) Piper and Paul show up with a Wuthering Heights program. This is an important piece of literature that depicts a troubled/toxic relationship; a story that still resonates in today’s world. Insanely courageous. Insanely brilliant. Insanely gorgeous.”

Susie commented further: “Piper and Paul keep showing us that STORYTELLING is not something we should be skating away from.”

Piper and Paul recently captured the ISU Four Continents Title for the first time. This has been a year where they needed to regain some ground that they may have lost last season when it was interrupted. Piper was diagnosed with and treated for Ovarian cancer which tossed a major wrench into their plans. In December of 2022 they had just won the ISU Grand Prix Final title which set them up to continue their winning season through the Four Continents and then World Championships last year, when life interjected with other plans.

This season their goal has been to have enough time to ‘grow’ their programs so that by the time Worlds came, they would be presenting the best possible version of their material. Having seen them as recently as last week, I would say that they have found their sweet spot.

Here is what Piper and Paul have to say about competing in Montreal at the ISU World Figure Skating Championships this week:


“I know I speak for the Skate Ontario family when I say that we are #SkateOntarioProud of Piper and Paul regardless of result,” said Lisa Alexander, Executive Director, Skate Ontario. “Once in a while the integrity and grit that skaters show off the ice is as impressive as what they do on the ice and that is what is most admirable about these two.”

In my mind, we watch skating with our eyes but when it’s done right, we feel it too. For my money, that’s what Piper and Paul bring to the table better than anyone else today. As a result, I believe they have everything they need to land on the top spot of the podium. Their journey starts Friday.

Follow Skate Ontario on social media @SkateOntario on Instagram, X (Twitter) and Facebook. Use the #SkateOntarioProud to show your support of the skaters.


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