Their partnership has taken them almost to the top of the world podium. It's hard to imagine that when Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje first skated together, there was barely a word shared between the two.
Weaver was living in the U.S. when she travelled to Kitchener, Ont., in the summer of 2006 for an audition with Poje.
"I was so scared, because I really wanted to be the very best I could be so I was afraid to even talk because I was concentrating so much on showing him and his coaches that I was good enough to be his partner, and he tells the story that I didn't even say a word," Weaver said.
"She was completely quiet for that first day, I was thrown. . . I was thinking 'Does this girl talk? Does she have a personality behind it?'"
The ice dancers from Waterloo, Ont., are favoured to win gold at this week's world figure skating championships in Shanghai. Canadian teammates Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford go in as the favourites in pairs. Both the dancers and pairs skaters have won gold in every competition this season.
Poje said Weaver's nervousness didn't last long, and it was clear from early on that the two had chemistry. So Weaver moved from Texas to compete with Poje — switching countries isn't uncommon in ice dance and pairs. She became a Canadian citizen in 2009.
"It's hard to be smooth right away, but we were physically a great match, our strides matched, it felt good to skate with him, I didn't feel like I was fighting something," said Weaver. "It's like trying to drive a car that you don't know how to drive, it's kind of confusing, you don't know where you're going. But with him, we just kind of matched right away."
The two live together as roommates in Canton, Mich., which is the perfect environment for creative collaboration.
"We'll come up with ideas at 9 o'clock at night, like 'Wait, Andrew, what about that one part (of the program), it would be cool to do this or that. . .' We've even done some different things in the grocery store before, because that's just where creativity strikes," Weaver said.
"And sometimes when we get home, Andrew will go in, lock his door, and I'll go in my room. . . sometimes I just want to go and watch Netflix."
Added Poje: "We've found a good balance between spending time with each other and enjoying each other, but also not getting sick of each other and being too involved."
With the absence of Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir this season — the world and Olympic champions are taking the season off to contemplate their future — Weaver and Poje have skated seamlessly into top spot. They won both their Grand Prix events, the Grand Prix Final, and then Four Continents last month.
They hope to continue their perfect run this week, and erase the disappointment of last year's world championships where they missed gold by 0.02 of a point.
"We don't want to leave any little foot out of place or leave any little point on the board because we wanted to make sure that we would never let something like a .02 margin let us down again," Poje said.
In pairs, Duhamel, from Lively, Ont., and Radford, from Balmertown, Ont., are two-time defending world bronze medallists, but added a throw quad Salchow this season, making for the most technically difficult long program by any pairs team in the world.
"We feel pretty settled coming to the worlds," Duhamel said. "We've had a really great season and we're able to draw on all the experiences that we've had and our focus has been to stay relaxed in competition and take our time. And because we've been doing that all season we feel like we should be able to apply it at the biggest, most pressure-packed event of the year."
Canada's other two pairs teams competing are Piper Gilles of Toronto and Paul Poirier of Unionville, Ont., and Alexandra Paul of Midhurst, Ont., and Mitchell Islam of Toronto.
Lubov Ilyusechkina, a Moscow native, and Dylan Moscovitch of Toronto, and Julianne Seguin of Longeuil, Que., and Charlie Bilodeau of Trois-Pistoles, Que., make up Canada's other pairs team.
Nam Nguyen of Toronto and Jeremy Ten of Vancouver will compete in men's singles, while Gabrielle Daleman of Newmarket, Ont., and Alain Chartrand of Prescott, Ont., are the women's singles entries.
Canada won two gold medals — Patrick Chan in men's singles, and Virtue and Moir in dance — at the 2012 world championships in Nice, France.