TORONTO — Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje have lofty expectations, regardless of who they're competing against. They strive to be the best in the world.
So when Canadian teammates and Olympic champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir announced they were launching a comeback after two years away from ice dancing, Weaver and Poje took the news in stride.
"I think that it was a little bit of a shock, to be frank. I think that everybody could probably say that," Weaver said on a conference call Wednesday. "But Andrew and I have very clear goals, and that is to be the best. So, that means that we have to compete against the best.
"Right now, that's going to be whoever presents themselves in Boston and that's our main focus at the moment. It's taking all of our energy, and we can't afford to spend much time thinking elsewhere."
The skaters from Waterloo, Ont., head to next week's world championships in Boston with the world No. 1 ranking. They've won all but two competitions they've entered over the past two seasons — the only two blips a third at both last year's world championships and last month's Four Continents championships.
Their success is an example of Canada's tradition of excellence in ice dancing. They stepped up after several years of skating in the shadow of Virtue and Moir, Olympic champions in 2010 in Vancouver and silver medallists four years later in Sochi.
But however that dynamic plays out, Weaver and Poje are focused on next week, not next season.
"Yes, I was as surprised as Kaitlyn was," Poje said about the announcement. "But as she said, where our focus is is towards making sure that we're the best, and competing against all the best, and that's this year at worlds, and that's where our focus is right now."
Weaver and Poje weren't pleased with their bronze at Four Continents last month, and on the flight home from Taiwan, they had a brief layover in Japan, where they'll head after Boston, for "Stars on Ice."
"We were sitting on the runway, and I said a little prayer to myself: 'Kaitlyn, we need to make sure that the next time we step foot in this country, the next time we're in Japan, immediately following Boston, we will have left no stone unturned, we will be proud of the work we did, we will have no regrets.'
"We made that promise to ourselves, no matter what the results, we would be very proud of the work that we did. We've stuck to our promise, so now it's time to relish in that work and enjoy it and share it."
The world championships are the pinnacle of a long season, and Weaver said skaters oftentimes struggle in search of motivation to get through this final stretch.
"But we've enjoyed these five weeks so much. . . we've actually risen with these challenges, and I can't tell you a specific thing we've worked on because we've literally worked on everything from the fingertips to eyelashes, to the power, the speed, every edge, every toe point, every glance, what it means, how we want it to read, everything has been under a microscope.
"And I believe that is exactly what we needed, we've been running sections like never before and so we've got the physical fitness, we've got the mental stability, and that makes me happy. And so there's nothing like hard work and we feel very much proud of what we've done, and I think that leading in we've done what we needed to do for ourselves."
The Canadians' stiffest challenges should come from Americans Maia and Alex Shibutani, and Madison Chock and Evan Bates. The world championships begin Wednesday at TD Garden. The ice dance will be the first medal awarded on Thursday.
Lori Ewing, The Canadian Press