Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje: Athletes of the Year for 2014
WATERLOO REGION — The world’s top-ranked ice dancers became the first two-time recipients of the Kitchener-Waterloo and area athlete of the year award on Wednesday night.
Kaitlyn Weaver and Waterloo’s Andrew Poje put the capper on their dream season with this 2014 prize, a year which sent their always promising careers into orbit.
“It’s amazing to have them recognized,” said Andrew’s dad, Bill Poje, before the reception at the Wilmot Recreation Complex.
“Except for that one hiccup at worlds, it was a virtual picture-perfect season.”
That it was.
The couple — on-ice partners since 2006 — captured gold medals at six straight competitions this past season including the Grand Prix final, the Canadian championship and the Four Continents championship.
They took third at the most recent world championships, held in Shanghai in March.
In 2014, they finished seventh at the Sochi Olympics.
Ever since their first performance together, Weaver and Poje have mesmerized audiences with their powerful and emotive skating.
Sometimes called “the leading man and leading lady” of figure skating, they aren’t exactly hard on the eyes either.
Weaver and Poje enjoy a worldwide fan base, Bill Poje said, adding their Twitter account has nearly 13,000 followers.
Poje is a Waterloo native and longtime member of the Kitchener-Waterloo Skating Club.
Weaver, a Houston, Texas native, was granted Canadian citizenship in 2009. She has said she considers Waterloo her adopted hometown.
The skaters divide their training time between Detroit and Toronto where they work with former world champion ice dancer Shae-Lynn Bourne.
Weaver and Poje were unable to attend Wednesday night’s festivities because they were on a ferry from Victoria to Vancouver where they will skate in the Stars on Ice show later this week.
Bill Poje said the couple’s hectic, year-long schedule will wind down briefly next month when they join six others for a seven-day Mexican holiday.
After that, preparations begin for next season.
Often Andrew’s visits with family amount to little more than a coffee break on Highway 401 where the Pojes converge as the skaters travel to another training session or competition.
“There’s no ‘sort of in’ with this sport,” said Bill Poje. “You are either all in or you are all out.”
Weaver, 26, and Poje, 28, are both studying through distance education at the University of Waterloo.
Poje is nearing completion of an undergraduate science degree, one step closer to his other dream of becoming an orthodontist.
“They’ve both been great ambassadors for the sport. They just keep on trucking.
“But the hard part for them will be maintaining that momentum,” said Bill Poje.
The award, which also recognizes athletes from Wellesley, Wilmot and Woolwich, has been presented since 1998.
Past winners include: boxers Fitzroy Vanderpool and Lennox Lewis as well as hockey player Scott Stevens, lacrosse player Colin Doyle and figure skaters Kirsten Moore-Towers and Dylan Moscovitch.
Weaver and Poje won the award in 2010.
This year’s nominees included: field hockey players Jessica Buttinger and Amanda Woodcroft; swimmer Alec Elliot, basketball’s Katie Harnock; boxer Taveena Kum; volleyball player Becky Pavan; hockey player Tanner Pearson; martial art’s Silvana Shamuon; and football player Tyler Varga.