Kaitlyn Weaver/Andrew Poje

Interview at the World Team Trophy 2013 in Tokyo, Japan

Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje had a rough season with being sidelined by injury from December until Worlds. The Canadian team came back strong to finish 5th at the World Championships in their home country.



Q: First let’s have a little recap of the season that had quite a few ups and downs for you.

Andrew: Yes. When we set out our plan at the beginning of the season we didn’t imagine all the little bumps on the way. But I think it made us a better team throughout the whole year, because we’ve gone through all this in such a short time and it prepared us for the future. It shows the strength that we have together as a couple and as individuals, because Kaitlyn to get back after her injury was such an amazing thing. I think it has proved our determination.

Kaitlyn: We’ve learned so much. Usually our season is filled with a lot of lessons. We’ve gone through a lot together as a team, but this one especially is one that we thought when we set out this season we didn’t have the greatest start and to have the injury happen we were are a pretty bummed for a little bit, but we’ve learned so much, mostly – take nothing for granted. When I came back, to have the opportunity to skate again and finish this season was such an incredible gift. That’s something I think we really appreciated as an experience.


Q: What exactly happened when you got injured on December 18?

Kaitlyn: We were warming up just as any normal morning and we were doing back cross-overs in a circle and I slipped somehow. My boot hit the ice and slid feet first into the boards and when I hit …. We were going so fast, the impact broke my fibula. There was really nothing we could have done. Andrew tried to hold me, but our gloves came off, that’s how much power we have.


Q: Did you know right away you had broken something?

Kaitlyn: No, I didn’t know! No one breaks their ankle skating. It was such a weird thing. I tried to walk on it and that didn’t work and we went to get an x-ray, because it was really swollen. I thought, there is no way, maybe I just .. . it’s unfortunate, I’ll probably have to take a couple of weeks off, maybe some (time) before Nationals. These were the things that were going through my head. And then when the doctor told me I broke my fibula and it was displaced and I was likely to have surgery, it was so shocking. It was very sad for me. Not so much for the season, but just not being able to skate. It’s part of our lives. It’s what we do and what we love to do. That was really scary to not know how things were going to go and then after we realized that – not long, maybe within a couple of hours - we realized that it wouldn’t help us to feel bad ourselves, be depressed. We had to start to think positive, thinking of all the things I could do to make it better and to make it faster. I kept the same mentality the whole eight weeks. I think that’s half the reason why we were able to do it, because we had such strong determination.


Q: I heard you were much ahead of schedule in your recovery.

Kaitlyn: Very much. My recovery was probably four weeks faster. When I asked the surgeon, I asked so many surgeons, doctors, everybody, ‘do you think I can make it back for Worlds?’ – ‘When are Worlds?’ – ‘March’ – ‘This year?’ I was like, ‘yes’, and they were like, mhm, no. They said, you’ll be on the ice but you won’t be any good. That was what they were telling me. I was thinking, I’ll try. I’ll just try. I have to do this rehab anyway, regardless of what competition we make it back for. If I want to make it back, I have to do this very diligently. And so half time almost made it more important in the fact that every moment was very efficient, very scheduled. My physiotherapist was incredible. She gave me a schedule from morning to night every single day. I was busy all through the day when I was doing after I had got my stitches out and do rehab. It was a full-time job. I think that with that determination and that ability to have the time to devote to it was very, very valuable. We shocked everybody. The doctors were like, there is now way, we can’t believe it. That was pretty cool.


Q: When did you get back on the ice?

Kaitlyn: February 7, I stepped foot on the ice. Obviously I lost all my muscle from my hip all the way down. It was very, very strange to skate with one leg normal and one leg weak, very weak. It was probably a couple of weeks until we were able to skate, even to be able to start doing programs even like to be able to do the steps of the program. And so I’d say training-wise had two and a half weeks of attempted run-throughs.


Q: What did you do while Kaitlyn was off the ice?

Andrew: While she was doing her recovery job I was just trying to ensure that I’d be in the best shape possible to help her when she got on to the ice. I knew when she got on the ice her leg wouldn’t be as strong as it was. So I needed to do anything I could to help that. I was back in Detroit skating every day, ensuring that I improved as much as I could and kept the momentum going so that when she gets on the ice we just can be together as quick as possible. A lot of solo polkas.


Kaitlyn: He sent me videos of him and Anjelika (Krylova, coach) doing Polka and footwork and stuff.


Q: So you were in Canada.

Kaitlyn: Yes. It was also very difficult, because we spend so much time together and my best opportunity for rehab was in Toronto.

Andrew: And my best opportunity to skate was in Detroit.

Kaitlyn: So it was very weird to be apart from him and also from our group and from Pasquale (Camerlengo, coach). So Pasquale made me promise I’d send them a picture every single day of my progress, of what I was doing and so now we have like 50, 60 pictures of showing every day and how much I got better. It’s cool. That at least helped us to stay a little bit more up to date.


Q: You got a lot of support then from everybody around you.

Kaitlyn: Yes, unbelievable support. We went to Canadian Nationals in January, because it was in Mississauga, which is very close to Toronto. I was still on crutches at that time. We went to do some media stuff, but that support from the Canadian audience was incredible. It made me feel so good and helped me stay motivated and know that there are people behind us all the way no matter what the outcome.


Q: Your training mates, Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat, were in a similar situation. How did you support each other?

Andrew: I think there was one thing that was good for us to be in the same situation. I think we both knew how hard it was. We kind of supported each other throughout the process and tried to help each other to get through that difficult time. Obviously we had different situations, but it was definitely nice to be in a similar situation with people that are trying to go for the same opportunities as we.

Kaitlyn: We knew exactly what the other person was going through. Whether it was attempted run-throughs or not being able to skate on the session the whole time, it was nice to have them there and hopefully vice versa just to have someone to share the experience with. Even though it was a horrible … not horrible, but obviously not the most ideal (experience). It was good for both of us.


Q: You made it back to Worlds and it was very successful. Can you recall how you felt competing at Worlds in Canada and doing so well?

Kaitlyn: It is so hard even to describe what it was like. Once we got there though we kind of forgot about everything. I was having treatment every day, but we forgot the lack of run throughs. It wasn’t about the number of things we had done or the amount of hours we’ve been on, how many days I had skated. It was just the fact that we had made it there and once we were in London, we were like, we officially did it. We didn’t believe it until we were there in the hotel, ready to skate.


Q: Right, there were rumours until the last minute that you’d withdraw.

Andrew: Right.

Kaitlyn: We even didn’t know. Mike Slipchuk came the week before and gave the official okay. He was able to tell the board (of Skate Canada) they’re ready to go. It was days before we had to leave. But it was so incredible, every step we took, we felt like we were so joyful. I think that’s only an experience we could get from having that taken away, having that dream of skating at home at World possible not be able to come true. And so to be there and to imagine that’s the exact moment that we’ve been dreaming of this whole rehab was incredible. We created our own reality. And to do our programs (so well), we were even shocked. We were like, did that just happen, did we just do that? Those were two of the best run throughs we’ve done all year. It was just so exhilarating. Every day got better than the last and it was incredible, something I’ll never ever forget.


Q: For you it was even almost in front of your doorstep, very close to your hometown of Waterloo.

Andrew: It was very close to our hometown and I think that was one thing that definitely made it a lot more special, being in the rink and seeing friends and family around the rink just supporting you and being in that atmosphere with an amazing crowd. The crowd was just electric and that just helped us through the experience and we enjoyed the experience that much more.

Kaitlyn: And they knew what we had been through, so we feel like we shared that moment with them. They were there with us. Even on the practices the audience was packed, you know, every day was so exciting.


Q: Now you had the World Team Trophy for the first time. How do you feel about it?

Andrew: It definitely is a different experience and a different feeling about the competition. It’s cool. I’m very glad that we got the opportunity to be a part of this and to enjoy the experience of being part of a team event as opposed to an individual event, because it is definitely a different mindset.

Kaitlyn: I think it is really great practice going into the next year. It is not often that you do a competition that you’d never done before. We’re getting used to doing Grand Prix, Nationals, Four Continents, Worlds, and then to be like, what to expect? It was different. It’s so much fun. We always dreamed about doing this event, but we never were given the opportunity, there’s only one dance team and of course Tessa and Scott have been doing it the past two years. So it was so exciting especially this season for us to get out again, give our programs one more time to be performed. It was the perfect cap to the season, maybe we didn’t skate the best technically whatever, but we have enjoyed ourselves so much. I think that’s something we can take away from this and not remember necessarily the result.


Q: Do you think events like the World Team Trophy are the future of figure skating? Is this a new direction the sport should take?

Andrew: I think the team event is a good idea. It brings a different panache to the sport and I feel like it’s good for figure skating. I think it brings excitement and interest from different audience members as well.

Kaitlyn: I think anything new is good. I think this is also more relatable in terms of broader sport field, there is the relay in speed skating, there is team pursuit, in swimming all these things that make skating a little bit more well rounded in that sense. I wouldn’t go to this instead of what we have, but I think it’s really cool to have different options and some different facets of our sport. And we had a ball. Just being out there and rooting everyone on, because we don’t get that opportunity during normal competitions. Usually we stay focused on ourselves and you don’t want to stay out late, but this is an opportunity for us to really become a member of the team and the audience even. It’s been a lot of fun.


Q: For sure then you hope to be a part of the team event in Sotchi.

Kaitlyn: Of course.


Q: Some people are a bit wary, thinking it might be too much.

Kaitlyn: We have experience, and I also think any opportunity for us to get out on the ice in Sotchi the more the better. We didn’t do the Grand Prix Final this year and also we’ve done like the qualifying event at Worlds and that proved very successful for us. It’s just time to get out there.

Andrew: It’s enough time in between the two events, so it doesn’t affect the single events. I think it’s great to be exposed to the atmosphere beforehand so you can get used to it.

Kaitlyn: I think in dance it is a week, so it is the perfect amount of time to do it and come down. I like the idea also the way you could trade someone in so that it is not one team has to do both.


Q: You said each season is a learning experience. How you feel you have grown as persons in this year?

Andrew: It’s amazing I think that our first World Championship was in the same arena (in fact it was in another arena in Tokyo, T.F.) and to see how far we’ve come since that, how we’ve grown as people, not just as skaters, but as people is just amazing. I think it’s a testament to the sport and the experiences that we’ve gained throughout our career. It shows that we’ve come through adversity and that we kind of become better people from it.

Kaitlyn: I think that our career is kind of (being) underdogs, we’ve been the fighters always battling to get what we want. But we’ve done it, we’ve never given up. I feel like every bad thing has turned into a good thing and this season especially we learned why we do this, why do we want keep doing this, it’s because it makes us happy. The feeling of sharing something together, travelling the world, having that feeling of accomplishment, having so many people support you, that’s what we live for, that moment on the ice we know everything you’ve worked for is appreciated. I think that we’ve grown so much coming from Worlds in 2007 to now, we’ve become professionals and it’s cool to go from the babies to… I wouldn’t say the veterans, not yet – just to the top group at Worlds. That’s exactly what we’ve wanted for ourselves. I wouldn’t trade our journey for the world, even though maybe it’s been different than everyone else’s, it’s really taught us so much. We feel like we’ve maybe shown an example to other people. That’s really the ultimate gift you can get is inspiring others.


Q: What’s next now for you?

Kaitlyn: I’m going right home and having surgery to take my plate and screws out because it’s really not the most comfortable thing in my life. The doctor said April is the earliest you can have it out and so I said, okay, April it is. I don’t want to deal with this for a whole other year. It’s really been not the best way to train. It’s extremely uncomfortable (when I train). The boot has so much friction against the screws and they are right underneath the skin and so we had to develop a way so pad it, make sure that there is not anything touching my skin where the screws are. That took a long time to figure it out. Either way, we figured it out, we’re able to train, we’re able to do it, we competed. But this is it. No more! And then probably we come back to the ice and do some choreography.


Q: How long do you need to recover from the surgery?

Kaitlyn: It is hard to say. It is always hard to predict how long rehab will take. For me, I think mine will be quicker than normal (laughs), but we’re anticipating probably around four weeks or so before I’m back on the ice being able to be normal again. So it’s a lot quicker than the last one. And no more crutches. So we’ll get back on the ice probably, do some choreography, get going a little bit and then take a break, because we definitely need a mental break from this even though we had the two months gap in our season. But it’s time that we can relax a little bit, think of something else and start fresh.


Q: What are your plans for vacation? Where do you want to go?

Kaitlyn: I don’t know!

Andrew: Somewhere warm.

Kaitlyn: Between Worlds and here and now going home and preparing everything gets to exciting, but we haven’t planned that yet. We’re kind of last minute people, so we could decide in three days, Mexico! We haven’t really decided yet, but somewhere warm, that’s for sure.


Q: But you go together?

Andrew: Usually.

Kaitlyn: Usually, yes. We have our group of friends is very tight. The past two years we’ve gone with a little group from the Detroit Skating Club. It’s so much fun. You work so hard together and then you’re able to relax. We come from all over the world and we won’t necessarily be able to stay like this forever. So we really try to appreciate the moment as we have it. They are really our friends; that’s a very unique feel at Detroit Skating Club.


Q: Now Patrick Chan has joined you. He made comments about how he appreciated the atmosphere at Detroit Skating Club.

Kaitlyn: It’s a very productive, very fruitful atmosphere.


Q: Do you have any ideas, dreams of programs you would like to do next season?

Andrew: I usually take it a season at a time. Since the season wasn’t completed, I haven’t really thought about next year’s programs, but Kaitlyn doesn’t like to let her brain rest, so she…

Kaitlyn: Of course you dream, it’s your little world. You hear music and you think, oh, that would be a good music. I got a file of all music to skate to.


Q: For the next 100 years.

Andrew: Exactly!

Kaitlyn: I’m like a big skating fan. When I got hurt, I started listening, because we didn’t think there would be more of the season. I was like, we could start on next year. There were two parts of the brain, next year and this year. So we definitely have some ideas. I think it’s necessary to really think of it in advance. We started this season kind of late last year, so we got some ideas and now we have the time to think about those and thinking that through, because it is very, very important what we choose.


Q: But it is usually you that suggest something?

Andrew: Usually we try to bring our own ideas so that we’re invested emotionally into it, but a lot of times we get some directions from coaches as well, but initial ideas usually come from either of us.

Kaitlyn: Yes, it depends on the year, some that we’ve brought, some Pasquale, some Shae-Lynn (Bourne) has. Shae-Lynn is still very much involved in that aspect, decision making and planning. It really depends. Everybody kind looks at it as a group and the best music wins.


Q: I remember last year, a fan suggested the free dance music to you.

Kaitlyn: Yes, a fan suggested “Je suis malade” anonymously. He revealed himself halfway through the year. He still actually sends us a lot of music suggestions. He is a really, really great guy, but I don’t know how often that’s ever happened that you get an idea from a fan, but it was perfect for us last year.


Q: This year’s program was beautiful as well, with a different kind of emotion.

Kaitlyn: This is what we like to do, we like to push our boundaries, especially before next year. See what we can pull off.


Q: Now the focus is obviously on Sotchi and on being on the Olympic team. But what are your plans beyond Sotchi?

Andrew: We usually sit down and talk about it for a year at a time. We haven’t thought about past next season. We’ll sit down and figure that out I think when it comes to that point. I think we have our own thoughts of what we want to do, but haven’t really sat down and figured out exactly what.

Kaitlyn: We don’t like to get too far ahead of ourselves. I think that we definitely haven’t reached our peak yet and we’re still on the rise. We’re young-ish, I just had my (24 th ) birthday… There are so many youngsters coming up. We haven’t decided, but we don’t want to cut off our potential.


Q: Where do you see your strength as a couple?

Andrew: I think one of our good strength is throughout connection both mentally and emotionally, I think. Because we’re such great friends, we can get along with each other so that we can train well, because we have so much fun together. But also it shows in our skating, because we can emotionally invest in each other and I think it comes across to the audience.

Kaitlyn: Each program we have to tell a story. I think that’s a bit of an acting component. I like that about us, it helps to make our skating memorable. We may not be the fastest, we may not be the deepest or cleanest or whatever, but in recent seasons people remember us by how we made them feel. I think that’s very valuable and I’d rather take that over doing the cleanest footwork in the world or whatever. Of course we want to do both! That I think is our strength and I think we can only grow on that as well.


Q: Where do you see your weakness?

Andrew: I think one thing that we’ve had trouble with that season was through consistency of our levels. So that’s one thing we’re definitely going to address through the summer months to ensure that we have the strength in our elements to perform them at all times, because there has been some ups and downs with that. That’s one thing we need to work on.

Kaitlyn: I’ll be doing stroking exercises for the next six months for sure, just to build up the technical aspect, because when you have that everything that you add on top of it can be more comfortable and more visible, because (a) great technical base is so important. We’ve grown technically each year, but it’s going to be very important when everything is so detailed and the points that separate third place and fifth place is so small. You cannot leave any points on the table. We’ve grown a lot to increase our component mark, but we have to make sure that our technical mark is so consistent. That’s where we lost a few places this year, but again, it’s the learning experience and knowing what’s best for us and be a little bit more mathematical.


Q: Some people complain that ice dance because of that focus on technique is losing it’s attractiveness. How do you feel about that?

Andrew: There is always give and take with the new system. It’s brought a lot of accountability to the skaters so that we have something to come back to with our technical aspect, but I think we still have freedom in emotions. It’s making skaters and choreographers become even more intricate in their thoughts so that we can push the boundaries of our guidelines.

Kaitlyn: I think that generally it’s more technical for sure, it’s a bit more complicated, but I think that is what separates the best teams, the good teams from the great teams is the ability for the audience to forget that they’re even doing required elements and become so lost in the program and I think that’s something you can see with Tessa and Scott. That’s something I’ve always loved about them since they were juniors. I’ve loved them for a long time. That’s something to work towards and I think they have the best balance of that. I think it’s a great way to separate teams. It makes you become more creative and maybe we don’t have the freedom that we’re used to. But I think when you do create something special within the system it’s more valued and people can appreciate something that’s really hits the mark of both aspects of that.


Q: If Kaitlyn goes to an isolated island and she can take three things, what does she take?

Andrew: Her cell phone…

Kaitlyn: No!

Andrew: Her bed and…the zombie juice.

Kaitlyn: It’s a smoothie with green so everyone at the rink calls it zombie juice. I changed my diet a bit after the injury trying to get really fit really fast. It’s like spinach and protein and grapes and apples and there is a million different things in there. But I wouldn’t bring that to an isolated island.


Q: So you don’t quite agree with what he picked. What does he take?

Kaitlyn: He would take… this is hard. He would think practically. He would take food and music like i-pod or some sort of music. He would take something to do with cars, either his car – I don’t know if that counts as a thing you can take to an isolated island, but he loves cars and building things. He has that engineer mind. He’d probably like it, no one to bother him while he does his car thing and builds motors and stuff like that.


Q: Do you agree?

Andrew: No!


Kaitlyn: Maybe your helicopter thing? He has a remote helicopter that he loves. Or he’d take Patrick Chan. He might do that.


Andrew: That would be fun.


Q: Thank you very much for the interview and all the best for the summer and next season.