SAINT JOHN, N.B. -- They've long competed in the shadow of Canada's Olympic ice dance champions, but Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje don't mind flying under the radar into Sochi.
Weaver and Poje were runners-up once again to Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir this past weekend at Skate Canada International, but the gap between scores was the closest it's ever been -- giving Canada not one, but two ice dance teams that could reach the medal podium at the Sochi Olympics.
"Being in the same sentence as Scott and Tessa is an extreme honour for us," Weaver said, after their lyrical free skate tango Saturday night to music by Argentine composer Astor Piazaolla.
"We've grown up with them, it feels like, for the past six years that we've been on the international circuit. Every time we get to share the ice with them I feel like we get stronger because they're everything we strive to be."
Virtue and Moir have wrestled American rivals Meryl Davis and Charlie White for the top step of the podium in every major international event for the past four years. The Canadians, of course, edged the Americans to win Olympic gold in Vancouver, and the two teams have split the last four world championship gold medals.
A revolving door of skaters, meanwhile, have won bronze.
Weaver and Poje -- second to Virtue and Moir in Saint John by less than six points -- say it's an advantage to go into Sochi without the heavy expectations that sit squarely on their Canadian counterparts.
"That's a great spot for us to be in," Weaver said. "We love the attention for sure. But it helps us just focus on ourselves and makes us feel more normal, so we're looking to peak at the right time and we'll definitely have all the pressure then, but it's nice to maintain a bit of normalcy right now in the lead-up."
"We don't have to be in the limelight as much," Poje added. "I think that adds a certain pressure to the situation that's already high stress. It's an extra distraction, so being able to sort of fly underneath the radar is something we definitely appreciate."
Weaver and Poje were fourth at the 2012 world championships, then fifth at the worlds last March -- the most recent result coming after Weaver was sidelined for almost the entire season with a broken fibula.
She was sidelined again this past summer after having the hardware removed from her ankle.
"It was another month off the ice which was discouraging at first, that was the last thing I wanted to do," Weaver said. "But it was totally worth it, because everything is healthy and I don't have to worry about having five screws sticking into my skate and right now it's not even a thought on either of our minds. So it was totally worth taking the extra time to heal it again."
Weaver, a lover of old movies, watched her favourite -- the 1933 film "42nd Street" -- during her rehab, so the music was an obvious choice for their short dance this season. They turned to friend Geoffrey Tyler, who acted in the "42nd Street" musical at the Stratford Festival to help them choreograph the program.
"(The movie) has always had a special place in my heart, because I skated to it when I was younger, and through my injury it was the one movie I could find solace in, it really helped me feel comfortable and it kind of took my mind off what was actually happening," she said.
Weaver, 24, and the 26-year-old Poje teamed up in 2006 when both skaters found themselves without partners. Weaver, who was born in Houston, obtained her Canadian citizenship in 2009 to make her eligible to compete for Canada.
The five-foot-six Weaver, and 6-3 Poje -- who might have been drawn by a Disney artist, they're that wholesome/goodlooking -- teamed up in 2006 when both skaters found themselves without partners. Weaver, who was born in Houston, had been competing for the U.S., but obtained her Canadian citizenship in 2009.
They narrowly missed qualifying for the 2010 Olympics, but it surely won't be the same story this time around.
And with the expected retirement of Virtue and Moir following Sochi, ice dancing in Canada will certainly still be in good hands.