by Klaus-Reinhold Kany
The ice dance competition had the usual very high level because even without the Russian couples there were around 10 world class teams. Hardly anybody made serious mistakes. Thirteen couples came from the Ice Academy in Montreal, including the World Champions, all three U.S. teams and eight of the best ten couples.
As expected, Gabriella Papadakis & Guillaume Cizeron from France, the reigning Olympic Champions, also won in their home country. You can call them the "Torvill & Dean of the 21st century“ because they have some extraordinary magic which the other world champions in the last 35 years did not have, especially Cizeron.
They did not even get the highest levels, but their performance is so extraordinary that they don’t need only level 4. Their free dance music this year is Gabriel Fauré’s “Elegie“ for violoncello and piano, a piece which was probably never used in skating and which was composed in 1880. GOEs of +5 dominated for their ten elements, two of them even had only +5. Their components had an average of 9.97, with performance, composition of the program and interpretation of the music getting only GOEs of +5 by all nine judges. Overall they had 36 components of10.0 out of 45 possible.
Papadakis commented, “It was a magical moment, we knew there would be a lot of people but we didn't expect that, so it was really emotional, so much that I don't know how to focus, but it was beautiful, too. I’m just so grateful and we’re so lucky to have been surrounded by our closest friends here on the podium. I think that’s very rare and it’s what makes it worth it - gold medals, and the event, and the work. I think friendship in the end is what stays.“
Cizeron added, “After a season like this, after winning the Games, being here at home in France with our team, our coaches, there's so much history, so many people, I think the emotions we had on the ice today, it does not compare to anything. I think we try to make the most of every moment with all the skaters that are here, we try to make the most of every memory, with every person, every moment.”
Madison Hubbell & Zachary Donohue, bronze medalists in Beijing, won the silver medal with 222.39 points in their last ISU championships, like they had announced months ago and confirmed in Montpellier. Dancing in a romantic way to “Drowning“ by Anne Sila, they had mainly level 3 for their step sequences and level 4 for the other elements. Their components were around 9.7, with eight 10.0.
Hubbell explained, “We knew that the emotions were very high – we felt it this morning on practice. For many of us the goal was to not get too emotional and hinder the performance right before starting. We also know how to focus and we knew that we wanted to skate our best for each other for our last moment and we found peace in that. We’re just very happy.”
The U.S. team of Madison Chock & Evan Bates won the bronze medal, earning 216.83 points. They played the growing relationship between an astronaut (which he is) and an alien (which she is), interpreting music by Daft Punk. All elements were excellent as well and mainly had GOEs of +4. The levels were almost the same as for Hubbell & Donohue, the components around 9.6 with four 10.0. Chock said, “I feel incredibly emotional. It was a dream to be able to share that podium with our training mates and to be back on the podium after what feels like a very, very long time. Lots of emotions.”
Bates, who was just elected athletes‘ representative in ice dancing for the next four years (like Eric Radford for single and pair skating), added, “It was one of the best crowds we’ve ever skated in front of. Obviously the enthusiasm for ice dance because of what Gabi and Guillaume (Papadakis & Cizeron) have achieved is so strong, and we’re so thrilled to take the ice and just bask in that energy, take it all in, and thrilled with the performances we gave to the audience today and yesterday.” They said they will continue to compete next season. So the U.S. team won two medals in ice dance and at least one in all four categories, the first time since 1967.
Charlene Guignard & Marco Fabbri from Italy, longtime students of Barbara Fusar Poli, finished on fourth position with 209.92 points. They performed an emotional dance to the soundtrack of “Atonement“ by Dario Marianelli and to “Little Sparrow“ by Abel Korzeniowski, not as spectacular, but technically as least as difficult. All their elements were excellent. They plan to continue as well, maybe until the next Olympic Games in their hometown of Milan in 2026.
Piper Gilles & Paul Poirier from Canada, who train with Carol Lane and Juris Razgulajevs in Scarborough near Toronto, came fifth with 202.70 points. Their free dance music was “Long and Winding Road“ which was to reflect their 12 years of competing together. Gilles originally is American but has both citizenships. Their components were around 9.1. Lilah Fear & Lewis Gibson from Britain placed sixth with 198.17 points, dancing in a dynamic and entertaining way to the soundtrack of “Lion King“ and getting components with an average of 8.7. Olivia Smart & Adrian Diaz from Spain came seventh with 194.63 points after a hot dance with Spanish music, including „The Mask of Zorro“.
The third U.S. team of Kaitlin Hawayek & Jean-Luc Baker placed eighth, winning 191,61 points and components of around 8.5. They interpreted two piano music pieces of Frederic Chopin. Laurence Fournier Beaudry & Nikolaj Sorenson from Canada finished on ninth place with 188.54 points. Allison Reed & Saulius Ambrulevicius from Lithuania came tenth with 180.21 points. The Ukrainian team of Oleksandra Nazarova & Maskym Nikitin did not compete in the free dance. They had planned to create a new Ukrainian free dance quickly because their original free dance to “Moulin Rouge“ had too much joy of dancing. But there was no time for a new free dance and they said that because of the war it is not the time for them to perform their old free dance.