Rockford, Illinois Native Hopes to Skate Her Way to Olympic Glory in Beijing
The 2022 Winter Olympics, a.k.a. XXIV Olympic Winter Games or Beijing 2022, begin this Thursday, February 3, and will feature a competitor with strong ties to the figure skating program here in Rockford, Illinois. Pretty cool, right?
Meet, Piper Gilles.
Piper Gilles is a 30-year-old ice dancer originally born in Rockford, and she will be competing in the Beijing Olympics over the next few weeks. Piper is an international champion, has received many medals and awards, and the 2022 Winter Games aren't her first go-round in the Olympics, she also competed in the 2018 Winter Olympics with her ice dancing partner of 11 years, Pail Poirier. The only bummer part about Piper Gilles is that if she wins Gold in Beijing, it will be for Canada, not the United States. (We can still root for her though, right?!)
Here's some footage of Piper and her ice dancing partner Paul Poirier in action...
Piper Gilles Got Her Skating Start in Rockford, Illinois
Piper and her four older siblings have all excelled in either skating or skiing, which led the family to move to Colorado 20 years ago. (Here's a fun fact for ya, Piper's twin sister Alexe played Elsa from the movie “Frozen” in Disney on Ice: Dream Big. Did you see that at the BMO Harris Bank Center 2 years ago?)
When it comes to the family's Rockford roots, Piper's dad, Jeffrey Gilles, recently told the Rockford Register Star;
With five young kids, we went to the Rockford Park District’s Mom’s Morning Out. The moms sat in the lobby and drank coffee and the kids got to skate on the ice for a half hour.
When RRStar reporter Matt Trowbridge asked Jeffrey and Piper Gilles what their favorite memories of Rockford were, Jeffrey said; "the ice shows that the kids were in and the cast parties afterward". Piper said; "I loved spending the summers on the river with my dad and the jet skis and the Fourth of July fireworks.” Piper also fondly remembers driving through the Festival of Lights at Sinnissippi Park each Christmas. (Good memories, Piper!)
How Will The Beijing Games Be Different For Piper Gilles?
When speaking with the Rockford Register Star, Piper admitted that performing without a crowd to connect to during the Olympics is one of the biggest challenges she and her partner Paul are trying to adapt to. Piper said;
Paul and myself really love to have a crowd and feed off that energy. It heightens the performance.
There was nobody at the Olympic qualifier. You could hear a needle drop. That made things more stressful, but we train at the rink every single day by ourselves without an audience, so we need to know when to turn it on and turn it off.
Piper, you may be an official Canadian citizen now, but please know your hometown of Rockford, Illinois will be rooting for you and Paul to go for the Gold! (Unless you're neck-and-neck in points with the United States...then we all will have a tough decision to make. LOL.) Best of luck!