by Klaus Reinhold Kany
(30 March 2016) About 4,500 spectators saw the first part of the 2016 World Championships in Boston which was the short dance of the 30 ice dance couples. The general level of the competition was very high. There were no falls at all and only minor mistakes. In a meeting for the coaches after the event, Halina Gordon-Poltorak from Poland, head of the ISU dance committee, congratulated them for their dedicated work and success. She confirmed that the short dance must not be a short free dance, but that the required rhythm of the season, which is the Ravensburg Waltz, and the second rhythm must be visible in the skaters’ movements even if no music is being played. The majority of the couples, she said, have fulfilles this rule perfectly and she is sure that they will also pay attention to this rule next season when the Midnight Blues will be the required rhythm for seniors and the Blues for juniors.
The 2015 world Champions Gabriella Papadakis & Guillaume Cizeron from France took the lead with 76.29 points. Their short dance to the modern Waltz “Charms” by Abel Korzeniowsky and a March by Hugo Chouinard had a good speed and was smoothly performed. Their flow was excellent and the five elements were presented in the choreography without long preparation. Everything they do looks easy and magic, especially thanks to Cizeron’s body flexibility and both skaters’ mimikry. All elements had a level 4 and there were almost only GOEs of +2 and +3. Their components had an average of 9.4 with some 9.75 as highest.
Cizeron commented: “We are so proud to have achieved this high score here. We are competing with really strong skaters here, skaters that we didn’t compete with all season. We were really focused and maybe a bit more nervous than in the past years. It is the first time we will enter the free dance being in first place. In the free dance, we want to stay focused. You never know what will happen. Even if we had a great skate, the other teams may still be better.”
Papadakis added: “We are really happy, especially since we missed the first half of the season and we didn’t do that well at the European Championships, which was only our first international competition. We skated really well, speaking both technically and artistically. And to be honest, I didn’t expect our score to be that high, we just beat our best score by five points. We have worked a lot on our program since Europeans, on technique, on the transitions and on interpretation in order to make it more like a unity.”
Maia Shibutani & Alex Shibutani of Canton, Michigan, are second with 74.70 points. They skated to Waltz and March from the ballet Coppelia by Leo Delibes with ease and in a dynamic and very friendly style. Their five elements also had Level 4 and were excellently executed. The components were around 9.2, with two 10.0 as highest. Maia Shibutani said: “We feel fantastic, it was great to get out there and perform for the audience and that was definitely our strongest short dance of the season.” Alex added: “We got off the ice feeling really content and satisfied and the crowd was awesome this afternoon. We‘ve had so many memorable moments with our performances all around the world and being in the United States there‘s a little extra boost from the crowd. This has been a huge year for us and we‘re really proud of we‘ve accomplished on and off the ice.”
Madison Chock & Evan Bates of Novi, Michigan, second at the World Championships one year ago, sit on third position with 72.46 points. They interpreted the Foxtrot “More” by Andrea Bocelli and the famous Waltz “Unchained melody” by Il Divo in a very elegant style, which the rhythm requires. Three of their elements had a level 4, but the twizzle sequence and the second Ravensburg section a level 3. The components were around 9.2, with two 10.0 as highest (not from the same judge who gave the Shibutanis two 10.0).
“The performance itself felt good.” Bates commented. “We enjoyed ourselves and the home crowd. It was great to accomplish a season’s best. It’s been a long and bittersweet season for us. I made a mistake on my second twizzle in the sequence which cost us a level, so I’m a bit disappointed in myself for that, but it could have been worse.” Chock said: “I’m glad we were able to accomplish a season’s best today. It’s always so nice to perform in front of a home crowd. I think we’re in a good place going into the free dance.”
Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje from Canada are fourth, earning 71.83 points. They train in the Detroit Skating Club under Angelika Krylova and Pasquale Camerlengo. They skated to two classical pieces of Johann Strauss: The Waltz “The Blue Danube” (An der schönen blauen Donau”) and the “Annenpolka”. Strauss fits them well because of their long lines and elegant style. Their technical level was a bit lower than those of the medalists, but the components also were around 9.2.
Weaver said: “It’s not the position we wanted to be in, absolutely not, but we’re fighters, and it isn’t over till it’s over. We are confident about the Free Dance, that‘s my middle name, and we worked so hard on it.” Poje explained: “We’re proud of the way we performed today. We wanted to finish in a different place, but we’re happy with the way we skated.”
Piper Gilles & Paul Poirier from the school of Carol Lane in Scarborough, Ontario sit fifth, earning 70.70 points, the highest number they ever had, for their entertaining Beatles medley program in colorful costumes. All their elements had a level 4. Gilles explained: “Both of us are very pleased with our performance and personal best. It was very stressful to have a new program and new boots. But all our hard work paid off and we’re very proud and ready for tomorrow. We got level 4 on all our footwork, we’ve never had that before.”
Anna Cappellini & Luca Lanotte danced to a Waltz and a Polka from the Operette “The Merry Widow” by Franz Lehar. They are on sixth position with 70.65 points. Three elements had a Level 4, the second Waltz sequence and the partial step sequence a Level 3. Cappellini commented: “I was disappointed mostly because I did a little mistake and that did cost us a few points which would have put us more where we expected to be. But it’s a competition, it happens, so roll on to next time.”
The third U.S. team of Madison Hubbell & Zachary Donohue sit seventh with 68.44 points. Since last summer, they have not trained in Detroit any more, but in the Montreal school of Dubreuil/Lauzon/Haguenauer. Dancing to the 2010 Olympic song “Hallelujah” by K.D. Lang and Karl Hugo’s “Hallelujah March”, they have improved a lot since last year. The spectators in the rink laughed when the rink announcer mixed them up with the Russian team that came next and announced them as Alexandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin, but she corrected herself quickly.
Later Hubbell said: “We were really trying to live in the moment. The technical side we had practiced at home and we just could just do what we had practiced. What we tried to do is experience it for the last time. The meaning behind the program is very personal; it was a bittersweet thing to perform it for the last time and so we just tried to live in the moment.” Donohue added: “This program is the story of our of struggle for the past two years: her surgery two years ago, our frustration with training, our move to Montreal, finding new trust in our coaches and teammates, regaining our trust in each other, redefining our relationship. We‘ve been through hell and back again several times in our short partnership and it‘s only made us a stronger team. This program is the embodiment of our struggle and the victory we can celebrate coming out of it.” Penny Coomes and Nicholas Buckland from Great Britain, who have trained with Igor Shpilband since last summer, are on eighth place, winning 68.23 points.
Viktoria Sinitsina & Nikita Katsalapov from Russia, who had been second at Skate America five months ago, but have not been to Worlds yet, finished on ninth position. They earned 67.68 points after performing an excellent waltz, march and polka from Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake. They train with Marina Zoueva and Massimo Scali in Canton, Michigan and were alternates for Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev who seemed to have won the bronze medal at the Europeans Championships in Bratislava in January. But they had to withdraw from Worlds about three weeks ago when it was found out that Bobrova was tested positive at the Anti-Doping control at Europeans. She had taken or the Russian team doctor had given her a forbidden substance which exists under different names in different countries and which gives you a longer stamina. The ISU has not taken a decision how long she will be banned from competition, but often it is two years if someone is caught for the first time.