Kaitlyn Weaver, Andrew Poje: “Our dreams include winning World and Olympic medal”

Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje

By Barbara Castellaro,
special to World Figure Skating

Canadian ice dance couple of Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje was formed in 2006, at the end of a season in which both found themselves without a partner. In August 2006 Kaitlyn moved from Texas to Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario to skate with Andrew Poje and to work with coach Paul McIntosh.

Their debut immediately showed the big potential of this young couple. They won the bronze medals at the 2007 Canadian National Championships and at the 2007 World Junior Championships.

In January 2008, they relocated to Toronto to work with Shae-Lynn Bourne, the 2003 World Champion. A year later they moved to the Detroit Skating Club in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, where they began to train with Pasquale Camerlengo and Angelika Krylova.

Pasquale Camerlengo, in an interview at the beginning of this season said: “When Kaitlyn and Andrew came to us they were already good skaters, but they didn’t believe that they could be among the best in the world. Back then we didn’t have commitments to other top teams, so we invested a lot of time and energy into Weaver/Poje, to make them grow and believe that they are top skaters.”

In this season, Weaver/Poje chose their very passionate free dance music “Je Suis Malade” on the suggestion of an anonymous fan. Karl Hugo composed additional music to add greater variation to the program. Weaver and Poje competed at three Grand Prix events (Skate Canada, NHK Trophy and Rostelecom Cup), where they won three silver medals. At the 2011/12 Grand Prix Final they finished fourth. In January, 2012 they finished second at the Canadian National Championships, right after the 2010 Olympic Champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir. At the 2012 Four Continents Championships Weaver/Poje took the bronze medal.

Kaitlyn and Andrew kindly agreed to talk with our online edition before leaving for the World Championships in Nice.

Kaitlyn, Andrew, could you tell us about the beginning of your love for figure skating?

K. Weaver: I started to skate when I was six years old, because my Godmother gave me my first pair of skates. Skating was in the family, more prominently roller skating. My grandmother did most of the same Pattern Dances I did through the years!

A. Poje: I started to skate when I was six years old as well. I began skating because my sister was at the rink a long time, and my parents wanted to keep me busy so they put me on the ice. It wasn’t long until I fell in love with it! I first started skating with Kaitlyn in 2006 after both of our previous partnerships had dissolved. We both knew that from day one, we were going to be a perfect match. We had a stellar first season – medalling at Nationals, Junior Worlds, and making the World Team.

You are working with Angelika Krylova and Pasquale Camerlengo. Could you tell us about your work with them?

K. Weaver: Angelika and Pasquale are in my opinion, the World’s best coaching team. They are very special people in our lives because they have taken us from the very bottom of our career to heights we didn’t know we could reach. Angelika is an exacting technician who teaches us how to make every step of every program perfect. Pasquale on the other hand is a pure artist; his ideas are abstract and beautiful, and it’s our job to recreate them on the ice. Besides this, Angelika and Pasquale are like family. I’m not sure if there are many coaches in the world that will greet their students with a hug every morning. They are like this.

A. Poje: Pasquale and Angelika not only inspire us to be the best skaters we can be, but also the best people. Every day they teach us new lessons in skating, and also in life.

Let’s talk about very passionate music of your programs.

A. Poje: “Historia de un Amor” was entirely Pasquale’s idea. Before Worlds last season, we knew that we would be doing a Latin dance for the Short Program, and the first piece of music he played for us was this song. We were pretty tentative at first, since Daisuke Takahashi had just used the music the previous year and his program was phenomenal. However, it’s turned out to be a completely different “view” of the Rumba, and the result is unique! “Batacuda” came from Shae-Lynn Bourne, our part-time coach and mentor. She said it was the most exciting Samba; and she’s right!

K. Weaver: The concept of  “Je Suis Malade” came from a fan’s message through our website, weaverpoje.com. He suggested that we listen to it and he provided a link to a YouTube video. As soon as I heard the song, I knew that it was something extremely special. It was unlike any other song I’d ever heard – so much emotion. I immediately texted Pasquale and asked about the music, and he responded telling me that we would talk about it, because it was one of his favourite songs. I knew that it had to be an option if it was one of his favourites!

When we learned the story of the music, we were a little cautious at first since it would be a very character-and emotionally-driven program, and that would be a challenge. I’m so glad we believed though, because I feel like this dance is very unique, special, and most-importantly it touches peoples’ hearts.

The music we like for our programs is something where we feel emotionally attached to it. It can be any kind of dance, tempo, or story… If we feel connected, and feel like we can touch people with it, it works.

And what about your costumes?

A. Poje: The costumes for our programs are a collaboration of our own taste, our coaches, and the designers. Kaitlyn’s “Tiger” Short Dance dress and my outfit were designed and made by a ballroom company in the United States. These costumes are really fun to wear because they stand out! Our free dance costumes idea was from Pasquale: he wanted Kaitlyn in a bordeaux-coloured nightgown and me to look like a normal, relatable man. In these costumes, we feel like our skating and the story show through strongly.

This season can be considered as a very successful to your team. You took high places in almost all events you’ve competed and showed wonderful performances. What are your thoughts about it?

K. Weaver / A. Poje: Thank you. We indeed have had a wonderful season. We started preparing for this year full of life and energy after coming off of last year’s World Championships in Moscow. This energy has carried us through, and helped us believe in ourselves and know that we deserve to be at the top.

Our goal this year was a medal at every event, and so far we have pretty good statistics: 5 out of 6! This is certainly extremely lofty, but after finishing fifth last season, we believe that anything is possible. We feel like we’ve already achieved so much for ourselves this year – not including placements. We have more energy and commitment to each performance. That for us is extremely valuable for the future.

2012 World Championships will be in Nice, France. You’ll skate a French music… I think that you’ll involve the public into it.

K. Weaver / A. Poje: When we chose “Je Suis Malade”, we knew that it would be special for the French people. The challenge was making sure that we do the song and the story rightly. We are very excited to skate this program there and hope they connect with it.

In the ice dance there are wonderful, strong and different couples like Virtue/Moir, Davis/White, Pechalat/Bourzat, Bobrova/Soloviev, Cappellini/Lanotte. What do you think about them?

K. Weaver / A. Poje: Ice dance in the world right now is extremely strong and diverse. Every couple has a different strength. Of course we look up to Virtue and Moir because they have done amazing things for dance in Canada. They also have many qualities that we feel are very important in a team, like passion and relationships. We also train with Pechalat/Bourzat, and can watch and learn from them every day. All of the teams are so talented – it comes down to who does what on the day!

Cappellini/Lanotte are an extremely strong team and we’ve looked up to them for many years. One of my favourite qualities of theirs is how they always perform and excite the audience! You cannot help but have a big smile on your face while watching their Samba, or feel the emotion of their free dance. To me, they embody the quintessential Italian team!

Your models in the past. If I say Torvill and Dean?

K. Weaver / A. Poje: We both have been watching Torvill and Dean since we were children. We would not be doing what we’re doing without them! Our biggest role-models of the past are Shae-Lynn Bourne and Victor Kraatz.

I read that you’re studying.

K. Weaver: I am studying English and Anthropology at the University of Waterloo, Ontario. During my spare time, I love to take a dance class, go to the spa or curl up with a good book!

A. Poje: I am currently working towards a degree in Biomedical science at the University of Waterloo. I enjoy outdoor sports like soccer and beach volleyball, and taking in the automotive culture of Detroit!

Your future… your dream… on the ice and out of it…

K. Weaver: My dreams on the ice include winning a World and Olympic medal, touring with Stars on Ice and bringing honour to my country! Off the ice, I wish to complete University and stay involved in skating. As for the more distant future, I’m not sure about that yet!

A. Poje: I also would love to win a World and Olympic medal, of course! I would like to leave an impression on ice dance. I want to finish my University degree and pursue a career in a Medical field (so far!).

Assistance: Giorgia Ruggeri
Photo: Mike Cassese

WFS - An independent online sports magazine