Vanessa Crone, 16, and Paul Poirier, 15, opened their 2007-08 figure skating season by taking the gold medal at the Harghita Cup, the ISU Junior Grand Prix in Miercurea Ciuc, Romania. The couple is the reigning Canadian junior dance champions. The dancers also placed ninth at the 2007 Junior Worlds in Oberstdorf, Germany. Earlier last season, the couple won a bronze medal at the ISU Junior Grand Prix in Oslo, Norway and placed fifth at the event in Taipei City.
“Our goal for last season was to skate well at Canadians and qualify for Junior Worlds,” Poirier said. “But I fractured a toe and got stitches in my foot a week before Nationals. We weren’t even sure we would be able to compete. So we were happy to come first. This season, we’ll compete as seniors at Canadians but as juniors on the JGP circuit. We’re hoping to make it to the JGP Final. It’s been a lot of fun doing the Junior Grand Prixs. It’s nice to see new places.” The couple plans to compete until at least 2010 and probably 2014.
Poirier started skating when he was four. “I played some hockey for a year or two, but didn’t like it,” he noted. By the age of 12, he had landed a double axel and his first triple, a triple toe loop. He can land everything up to the triple axel and is working on that. He won the national bronze medal in novice men last season and will compete as a junior in 2007-08.
Crone also began when she was four. “My mom was a recreational figure skater and a coach and she put me into it,” Crone said. She landed her first double axel at 14 and her first triple salchow at 15 and is working on her triple lutz. Crone finished fifth at Sectionals in novice ladies in 2007 and plans to compete in juniors for the 2007-08 season.
Crone and Poirier trained in singles at the same club so coaches brought them together to try pairs and dance. They were third at Sectionals in 2004 in juvenile pairs, but because they jump in opposite directions, they decided not to continue. They began dancing together in the summer of 2001. “We’ve always been good friends in and out of skating,” Crone said. “That’s one reason it’s worked.” They plan to continue competing in both dance and singles. “Neither of us has a preference for one or the other,” Poirier said. “Both are beneficial to each other and we want to try and do well in both.”
For dance, the team trains in Scarborough, Ontario with a team of coaches headed by Carol Lane. Their other coaches include Donna Iijima, Juris Razgulajevs, and Jon Lane. Crone also takes singles lessons from Ernest Pryhitka in Toronto, while Poirier trains with Mark and Jana Batka in Richmond. They train for three hours a day, six days a week, on ice for dance, then Crone works for another three hours on singles while Poirier works another two hours in freestyle.
Carole Lane and Razguliaevs choreographed their programs. “Every year we try to have a different genre of program,” Poirier said. “Otherwise it gets boring. Next year we may try jazz. That would be contrasting.” For the 2007-08 season, the couple is using Romanian gypsy music for their original dance. That includes Blue Shawl by Petercurski and Gypsy by Boutouk. For their free dance, the dancers are skating a tango to “A Los Amigos’ by Pontier.
They both had two new programs for singles too. Poirier plans to use his again next season, but Crone will have two new ones again. “I always like to have new ones,” she said.
Both dancers have another two years of high school remaining. Crone plans to study something like fashion design at university, but Poirier has no idea of a future career at this point.
Crone enjoys being with her friends and family, dancing and snowboarding. She loves to play soccer for fun and played center/forward in a recreational league for four years. She was also in gymnastics between the ages of eight and ten. Poirier doesn’t play any other sports. He enjoys going to movies, dancing, chatting on his computer and reading. “I read everything, but mostly fiction,” he said.