Paul Poirier and his moustache were ready to go at the first practice session for senior ice dancers today at the revamped TD Place arena. But his partner, Piper Gilles wasn’t.
Poirier had to face the music alone, since Gilles fell ill yesterday after arriving in Ottawa and was busy upchucking elsewhere.
“We think it’s the flu,” Poirier said today after practice. “Right now we are just taking it practice to practice. And we’ve been just trying to do everything we can to compete at our best [in the short dance Friday].”
Gilles is battling this virus with rest. Because it’s a virus, there’s not much you can do about it, Poirier said. “But I think we are extremely well prepared. We’ve done run-throughs sick this year. It’s a matter of getting as much energy and fluid and food back into her body for tomorrow.”
Poirier spends a lot of time in Gilles’ arms, breathing the same air she breathes, and he’s probably embraced that bug as much as anybody can. He said he’s taking as many precautions as possible. Washing hands. Staying as far away from his partner as possible, perhaps. “So far, so good,” he said.
Today he had to practice the free dance alone, and that proved terribly difficult, since it’s a tango. “It’s very reactionary so a lot of my movements don’t make much sense without her, and some aren’t certainly possible.”
So Poirier focused on what he could do: some twizzles, marvelous stroking about the rink, some footwork. “Make sure that I’m just in the best place physically and mentally to get on the ice,” he said. “I just wanted to get on the ice and feel what it feels like.”
It’s hour by hour. Viruses have their own time schedule. Hopefully Gilles can will it into bay.
And if she does decide to go for it, she won’t be the first skater who felt a lump in the throat through all the strenuous elements of skating. Once at junior nationals, a young male skater pushed himself to the utmost, and suddenly took a detour to the boards, and left his lunch on the other side. Stuff happens.