Saturday, March 16, 2013
Just being at worlds is a victory for Weaver-Poje
LONDON, Ontario -- Kaitlyn Weaver hopped up and down, pumped her fist and let out a roar when she and Andrew Poje finished their free dance.
The Canadians didn't win, but it sure felt like it.
Weaver and Poje finished fifth at the World Figure Skating Championships on Saturday, three months after Weaver broke her left ankle.
"I wish we could just freeze this moment in time. All our hard work -- me being in the physio, Andrew skating by himself for two months -- now came together," Weaver said. "That's just incredible."
Weaver and Poje were training in mid-December when she slammed feet-first into the boards. She at first thought she'd hurt her ankle, but tests showed a break in the fibula, an injury that would require surgery. With only a month before the Canadian championships, their season was almost certainly over.
But Weaver pushed herself in rehab, and was back on the ice a few weeks ago. She showed little hint of the injury at worlds, where she and Poje came within .45 points of matching their personal best for final score.
"This season was a true test for the strength of our character and for us as a team," Poje said. "It showed us that no matter the circumstances, we are able to go back and work."
SOCHI BOUND: Make way for the Canadians.
Canada qualified for three spots in men's, pairs and ice dance for next year's Sochi Olympics, the only country to earn the maximum number of entries in each of the disciplines. The women's spots will be determined by Saturday night's free skate.
Spots at the Sochi Games are determined by how skaters do at these world championships, and no country is having a better week than Canada. The hosts have had two skaters or teams in the top five in men's pairs and dance, led by Patrick Chan's title, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir's silver in dance and Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford's bronze in pairs.
Russia, meanwhile, will only have one man in Sochi after Maxim Kovtun finished 17th. That's a stunning fall for a country that produced four of the last five Olympic champions and the silver medalist in 2010. Russia did qualify for the maximum three spots in pairs.
"I felt the pressure and it made me tired," Kovtun said Friday night. "I tried to get it off my mind, but I couldn't put it aside entirely. But I have to get used to it."
Japan also qualified for three men's spots in Sochi. The United States, Kazakhstan, Spain, France and the Czech Republic can send two men. In addition to Russia, Germany, China, Uzbekistan, Sweden, Belgium, Austria and Estonia will have one man.
The United States, China, France and Italy all qualified for two spots in pairs.
The remaining Olympic berths will be determined at a qualifier in Oberstdorf, Germany, in September.
WHAT'S NEXT? Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir have no idea what the future holds.
Not beyond Sochi, anyway.
The reigning Olympic champions haven't decided whether they will continue to skate after next year's Winter Games. She's 23 and he's 25, and they've already won their sport's biggest prizes. In addition to their gold medal at the Vancouver Games, they were world champions in 2010 and 2012.
"This is one of the only world championships were we don't have to sit down and say to each other, `Do you want to go one more year?' because there's Sochi and we're really excited about it," Moir said.
After that, however, who knows?
"I don't even know if the sun comes up Feb. 23, 2014," Moir said.