Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier skate in dance holdGreg Kolz/Skate Canada
Greg Kolz/Skate Canada

Gilles & Poirier resilient together after disappointment in free dance

“More than anything, we got off the ice and despite not having the skate we wanted, we felt really united.”

Piper Gilles was speaking for herself and her ice dance partner of more decade, Paul Poirier, after they came up short of their dream of being Olympic medallists.

They came to Beijing 2022 as the reigning world bronze medallists, but some problems on technical elements in both their rhythm dance and free dance left them in seventh place overall, with a total of 204.78 points, about 10 points under their personal best.

Though the score and the result were not what they had hoped for, their strong relationship and continued support for one another is what will help them persevere. This has been one more step on the long and winding road of their career, matching lyrics of their free dance music.

Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier perform a dance spin
Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier compete in the free dance at Beijing 2022 on February 14, 2022, Photo: Greg Kolz/Skate Canada

“We felt like we had done it together,” said Gilles. “Ultimately, that’s what’s going to allow us to keep moving forward once we get back home from the Games and move on to the next thing.”

Laurence Fournier Beaudry and Nikolaj Soerensen finished two spots behind them in ninth with 192.35 points while Marjorie Lajoie and Zachary Lagha were 13th with 181.02 points.

For Fournier Beaudry and Soerensen, they fulfilled a dream by finally getting the chance to compete on Olympic ice after missing out on the opportunity four years ago, despite qualifying the quota spot. They competed for Soerensen’s native Denmark at the time, but the Canadian-born Fournier Beaudry could not attain the Danish citizenship she would need to attend the Games. They now proudly represent the maple leaf together, after Soerensen, who has lived in Canada for more than a decade, received his passport last year.

Laurence Fournier Beaudry and Nikolaj Soerensen skate in dance hold
Laurence Fournier Beaudry and Nikolaj Soerensen compete in the free dance at Beijing 2022 on February 14, 2022, Photo: Greg Kolz/Skate Canada

Lajoie and Lagha, just three years removed from their world junior title, will take this experience ahead with them, ready for the quadrennial before the next Olympic Games.

“We are pretty happy with the experience and I can’t wait for the next Olympic Games,” said Lajoie. “I am glad we could get along well with the stress of these Olympics. We’ll be ready in four years. »

Lagha added, “It’s our first Games, we’re still growing. Before thinking about having bigger scores we need to improve our range of motion, skate bigger. We were able to do something pretty good, even when we were really nervous. I’m really happy about that.”

Marjorie Lajoie and Zachary Lagha perform a dance spin
Marjorie Lajoie and Zachary Lagha compete in the free dance at Beijing 2022 on February 14, 2022, Photo: Greg Kolz/Skate Canada

As their Olympic competition comes to an end, Poirier reflected on the overall experience of these Games and the support that they experienced during their time.

“Every Olympic Games is special and has its own has its own feeling,” Poirier said. “We’ve been able to have a really great time and we’ve so enjoyed just having so many people around that are so supportive and welcoming. I think that’s really created a good energy and spirit in the village.”