June 20th, 2024

Gilles, Poirier clinch gold at Skate Canada; Sakamoto finishes first in women’s

By Nick Wells, The Canadian Press on October 28, 2023.

Kaori Sakamoto, of Japan, performs her women's free program during the Skate Canada International figure skating competition, in Vancouver, on Saturday, October 28, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

VANCOUVER – Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier have once again claimed gold on home soil, finishing on top of the ice dance program at Skate Canada International.

The pair, skating in a competition for the first time since Gilles shared her ovarian cancer diagnosis in May, had a score of 131.46 in the free dance for a total score of 219.01.

Great Britain’s Lilah Fear and Lewis Gibson, who had the audience clapping along to their “Rocky” themed program, finished just over five points behind the Canadians in the free dance to end up second overall.

Lithuania’s Allison Reed and Saulius Ambrulevicius rounded out the unchanged top three from Friday’s competition.

Kaori Sakamoto continued her momentum, and dominance, in the women’s competition at Skate Canada International to claim gold on Saturday.

The reigning world champion scored a season-best score of 151 in the free skate program to finish first in the competition and overall with a total score of 226.13.

“Today I was able to perform exactly how I wanted to perform, so I’m really relieved and also very satisfied with the performance overall,” she said through a translator.

Sakamoto celebrated her winning result alongside her coach by pretending to eat a giant stuffed piece of sushi given to her by a fan from the crowd.

Chaeyon Kim, 16, of South Korea finished second overall in her Grand Prix debut.

“I had an ankle injury last week so I was worried, so even though the program wasn’t perfect I hope the results are good,” she said.

Sakamoto’s Japan teammate Rino Matsuike rounded out the top three, the same order as Friday’s short program.

Canada’s Madeline Schizas finished fourth overall (189.91) after a dramatic rise up the rankings from eighth due to the strength of her second-place free skate program.

Schizas said her short program score on the first day of the event was the lowest score she’s ever posted outside of competing as a junior.

“I was kind of upset yesterday,” she said. “I went and looked at skating scores and that was (my) lowest score ever.

“So I wasn’t thrilled but I knew I could rally today “¦ the error I made yesterday was pretty fluky.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 28, 2023.

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