by Klaus Reinhold Kany
(2 April 2017) The short dance of the 32 ice dance couples had an excellent level even if the jury was stricter than at many other events. Only some skaters got a season‘s best, which is normally common at the end of the season. Because of the high level, some renowned skaters did not reach the final of the 20 best, for example the second French pair Marie-Jade Lauriault & Romain Le Gac (21st) and the Japanese couple Kana Muramoto & Chris Reed (23rd).
The result at the top two was the same as at the Grand Prix Final in December. The three best couples all train in the Montreal school of Dubreuil & Lauzon and Haguenauer. Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir won easily, this time with a new world record of 82.43 points. All five elements got a level 4, and there were more GOEs of +3 than +2. Dancing to a medley of music by late pop singer Prince with a lot of energy, speed, sex appeal and rhythm, they had components with an average of 9.7. Nine of the 45 components from five different judges were 10.0.
Moir commented: "It was fantastic for Tessa and I to skate in such an energetic rink. Right from the very beginning, the crowd was really into it and we are fortunate enough to have great skate. There is nothing better as an athlete to get the crowd going, it really pumps you up. It’s pretty cool to have a 20 year partnership and still enjoy going to the rink every day and still love doing is with your partner. Hopefully as the season goes on you can learn more and more what gives you the best chance to get that level. The levels are very difficult to get so that’s one think we circled that needs improvement from 2014 for our comeback."
Virtue added: "We’re trying to push ourselves technically, we’re trying to have a departure artistically as well, but the real intention behind this comeback was to challenge ourselves. The level ice dance right now is top notch. We knew we were coming into a very deep and strong field. So we needed to raise the level of our skating. and to do things the same way. That wouldn’t have been motivating and inspiring."
The 2015 and 2016 world champions Gabriella Papadakis & Guillaume Cizeron sit on second position with 76.89 points. Their Blues sequence and the stationary lift had a level 4, but the other elements only a level 3. These three level differences cost them four points. Cizeron missed one rotation in the twizzle sequence, cut his hand between two fingers when he tried to grab his blade and had to get two stitches right after the program. The lift got nine times GOEs of +3, the other elements had +3 and +2. The components were around 9.6. Cizeron commented: "I think way we approach it is that Gabby and I don’t have anything to lose here. We just want to skate as good as we possibly can, have the greatest feeling on the ice, share that experience with each other, with the other skaters and the audience. We’ve been working a lot in last two months. We changed some details, added some fun, some more moves. Even if we did a few mistakes here in the short dance, I think we did a great job."
U.S. dancers Madison Hubbell & Zachary Donohue, up to now nationally only the ice dance team number three, came a surprising third with 76.53 points in their Blues and Hip Hop routine which was a personal best. Four elements had a level 4, only the Partial Step Sequence a level 3. The components were around 9.0. Hubbell explained: "I think we worked for this exact moment. We put a lot of time into our preparation, mentally as well as physically. Just like Tessa and Scott were saying, our coaching staff has really done a wonderful job making all teams prepared for this World Championships. That’s how we felt; just very calm and in the moment. We work every day with our coach Patrice. With him we can’t forget to pay attention to those levels. He’s really judging us extremely closely every single day to keep us aware of what need to do."
Madison Chock & Evan Bates from Igor Shpilband’s school in Novi, Michigan were very close to a medal position and sit fourth with 76.25 points. They had three levels 4 and two levels 3 in their extremely dynamic dance to "Under Pressure" by Queen and David Bowie. Their components had an average of 9.3. Bates: "I think it was the top of the heap for us as far as the season's concerned. This being the final event of the year this is where we want to peak and I think we're doing that." Chock added: "Our dance is very unique and I think it stands out amongst the field of ice dance. We're really proud of our program."
2016 Worlds silver medalists Maia & Alex Shibutani from the school of Marina Zueva in Canton, Michigan, are fifth and also close to a medal position, earning 74.88 points. Three elements had a level 4, the non-touch step sequence a level 3 and the partial step sequence only a level 2. Their components were around 9.3. Alex Shibutani said: "I think the performance was great, our strongest performance of the year. We were a little disappointed in our score -- we saw that we missed some levels. Sometimes you get marks that you don't quite understand."
Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje from Canada, who are coached by Nikoai Morozov this season, are currently sixth with 74.84 points, close to medals as well. Three elements had a level 4, two others a level 3. Like the top five dance teams, their components were higher than 9, in their case 9.2. "We felt really good out there," Poje explained. "We just wanted to go out there and just let it happen and we really feel like we're in that groove today. We felt each other and we felt that warm audience out there."
2014 World champions Anna Cappellini & Luca Lanotte are seventh with 73.70 points. Like most other top teams they made no mistake, had three levels 4 and two levels 3 and were disappointed about their low marks. Ekaterina Bobrova & Dmitri Soloviev from Russia finished on eighth place with 73.54 points. Soloviev commented: "This was definitely the best skate of the season. As for the scores, the first impression is that the points are a little bit low even compared to the ones we got at the Europeans." Piper Gilles & Paul Poirier from Canada are on ninth place with 72.83 points, Alexandra Stepanova & Ivan Bukin from Russia sit tenth with 69.07 points.