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Gillies, Poirier win ice dance silver at Four Continents

The Canadian Press

1/23/2014 1:30:58 PM

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Ice dancers Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier of Toronto posted their best result this season with a silver medal on Thursday at the ISU Four Continents Championships figure skating competition.

Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue of the U.S., took the gold with 158.25 points. Gilles and Poirier, the leaders after the short dance, followed at 153.71 and Alexandra Aldridge and Daniel Eaton of the U.S., were third at 144.95.

Gilles and Poirier impressed with a stationary lift and two rotational lifts, but lost a few points on a straight line lift and the diagonal steps. The Canadians earned a season-best of 91.33 points for the free dance.

"We've had a season's best in both programs. That's definitely more than we can ask for," said Poirier. "I think today the performance was a bit tight, compared to the times we've done it in the past, but there were some positive things to take out of this. We're going to take this competition with us, because it taught us a lot about resilience and about being able to come back so quickly after nationals."

Poirier suffered a serious ankle injury last spring in training that required surgery. They were fifth and sixth on the Grand Prix circuit this season and were fourth at the Canadian championships two weeks ago to fall short for a berth on the Olympic team.

Kharis Ralph of Toronto and Asher Hill of Pickering, Ont., were fourth at 137.03 and Nicole Orford of Burnaby, B.C., and Thomas Williams of Okotoks, Alta., fifth at 133.42.

In women's competition, Kanako Murakami gracefully executed a double triple toe jump and a triple flip jump that put her at the top of a tightly contested race with 64.73 points, just ahead of Li Zijun of China on 62.84 and fellow Japanese Haruka Imai at 62.72.

Murakami was on her way to her first Winter Olympics and said the Four Continents was building her confidence and refining her program.

"I didn't want to come to the Four Continents but now I'm glad I came here," she said. "Of course there are things that can be improved."

Amelie Lacoste of Delson, Que., was 10th, Veronik Mallet of Sept-Iles, Que., 11th and Alaine Chartrand of Prescott, Ont., 15th. The free skate is on Sunday.