Think you’ve had a bad hair day? That somebody took the last Timbit? That you missed the last bus to Barbados in a snowstorm? That the television cable went out in the middle of the Canadian Tire National Skating Championships?
So you think YOU have had a bad hair day? Just ask Piper Gilles.
She had the ultimate day that was just bad for follicles.
In the opening moments of their rhythm dance, Gilles (intentionally) looped her head up under partner Paul Poirier’s arm – and couldn’t shake loose. Her carefully coiffed blond locks had become entangled in a button on Poirier’s shirt. And he had to extricate it, carefully. And for a crazy moment, of course, they had to stop skating while they sorted this unusual and unprecedented problem.
Gilles shook her head in disbelief as they took their bows before an appreciative and rather confused audience.
“We’ve decided you can throw really anything at us after that,” Gilles said.
Fortunately, they have random cues to picking up after a bad event. “ROMANCE” Gilles whispered to Poirier. “ROMANCE!” Only they really know what that means, but basically, assume any sort of attitude that doesn’t look like dismay. And soldier on as if nothing happened.
“There’s still hair coming off his costume,” Gilles said afterward, pointing to Poirier’s attire.
Happy ending: Gilles and Poirier won the rhythm dance with 88.86 points, 11.60 points more than first-time seniors Marjorie Lajoie and Zachary Lagha. The leaders received no deductions for personal entanglements.
“Those are the crazy things we try to avoid,” Poirier said, the shawl collar on his jacket looking rather rumpled and askew. “We practice with these costumes tons before the season. We’ve done four competitions in these costumes.”
There be might be some button re-planning in the days ahead, depending on what their investigation into the matter reveals.
“I think overall it was a really great skate for us,” he said. “I think in some way, it was a distraction that kind of settled us. It took us out of our performance for a second and it forced us to really reground ourselves and really be focused. I think we’re really pleased with the skate that we were able to overcome that, and just perform really solidly and get all our elements done as well as we can. Just what we wanted. Other than missing that first bit.”
This silliness has never occurred to this team hoping to win their first senior national title. “Never. Never,” Gilles said. “We’ve had bobby pins come out….but never stuck on each other.”
Porier remembers a time with previous partner Vanessa Crone, who wore fishnet stockings that got caught on a button. (We’re trying to imagine the pretzel-like possibilities of this position.) But this faux pas occurred during early season practice, and they adjusted. “Usually those kind of things come up the first times you do the program,” Poirier said.
The biggest concern for Gilles and Poirier was how to pick up their steps and pattern (to match the music, too) after they disentangled. “Where do we pick it back up?” Poirier said. “There are just certain steps where it’s not natural for picking it back up, and where we are relative to each other.
“So it’s kind of where can we get back into the program, missing the least amount possible.” If they were to pick up the routine at the wrong spot, it all spirals into some sort of train wreck. Obviously, Gilles and Poirier didn’t have a train wreck.
Gilles and Poirier joked that they tapped their troubles away. “It has to do with how much training we’ve done,” Gilles said. “We’ve done this program on the best days and on the worst days. We’ve had some great programs and random trip-ups. So it’s just figuring out how to pick yourself up and be calm, collected. We were definitely able to do that.
“Keep a smile on your face as every figure skater does, even if they fall a million times, right? That’s what we’re told to do. And we did that and kept going.”
The hair, pulled out of its position, continued to flop throughout the program. “Can you imagine!” Gilles said. “I had the whole pile flapping on the side of my head. Like, yup, it’s still there. How ridiculous do I look right now. Because I was laughing about my hair, I don’t think I was so focused on my feet. And I just let myself go on autopilot and let the training do its work.”
Guaranteed, the caper will go viral. What would Mack and Mabel think?
Although the rhythm dance proved to be a hair-raising experience for the leaders, it wasn’t easy for Lajoie and Lagha, either. Lagha misfired on his first twizzle and dropped a level of difficulty.
Still, they received 77.26 for their West Side Story routine. “Actually, I don’t know why, the magic number 77 came to my mind at the beginning of the competition,” Lagha said. “I don’t know, after that mistake on the twizzle, I thought maybe 75 or something, but we still got 77. It’s a really good score. We’re really happy. We’ll take it.”
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