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Ice dancer Piper Gilles becomes Canadian citizen in time to make bid for Sochi team

At the world figure skating championships last spring, Piper Gilles wore a bejeweled Canadian flag that she'd crafted herself on the right shoulder of her bodysuit.

She wasn't a Canadian yet, but hoped her citizenship would come through in time to compete at the Sochi Olympics with ice dance partner Paul Poirier.

Her dream was realized Tuesday at a citizenship ceremony in Toronto.

"I have felt like a Canadian citizen for some time and I am extremely excited that it is now official," Gilles said in a release.

"I've dreamed about competing in the Olympics my whole life and hope to be in Sochi next year. There is no bigger stage than the Olympics and it would be an honor to represent Canada in front of the entire world."

Gilles, whose mom Bonnie is a dual citizen of Canada and the U.S., was born in Illinois and moved to Canada in 2011 to train with Poirier, a native of Unionville, Ontario. They were second at the Canadian championships last winter in a field missing Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje, who were fourth at the 2012 world championships.

Gilles and Poirier will try to earn one of Canada's three ice dance spots for the Sochi Olympics at the Canadian figure skating championships Jan. 9-15 in Ottawa.

Barring any major mishaps, Olympic champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir and Weaver and Poje are expected to secure the first two berths.

"This sets up an exciting battle in ice dance at the upcoming 2014 Canadian Tire National Skating Championships," Skate Canada's CEO Dan Thompson said in a release. "This adds one more team into the very strong ice dance field competing for those spots."

Weaver also moved north for her figure skating career. The Houston-born skater became a Canadian citizen on June 22, 2009.

Canada's figure skating team will be announced on Jan. 12.

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