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2022 Grand Prix Espoo

Espoo, Finland

by Klaus-Reinhold Kany

Results Details



(4 December 2022) Originally, the sixth and last Grand Prix of this season was supposed to take place in Moscow. But as Russia is still excluded from international competitions, the Finnish federation jumped in. Therefore it was organized in the Metro Arena in Espoo, which is a suburb of the Finnish capital of Helsinki. It was not possible to hold it in the huge Hartwall arena in Helsinki where several ISU championships had taken place. The owner of that beautiful rink is a Russian oligarch whose property was confiscated after the beginning of Russia’s war against the Ukraine due to European law. The Finlandia Trophy has taken place several times in Espoo, and Europeans in January 2023 will take place there as well.


The women’s competition at the Grand Prix in the “Metro Areena” in Espoo, Finland had a mixed level. Nobody tried a triple Axel nor a quad. Mai Mihara from Japan won her second Grand Prix in two weeks after being first in Britain’s Sheffield. In Finland it was a close fight between her and the Belgian skater Loena Hendrickx. Mihara, Four-Continents-Championships winner in 2021, opened her short program to the sad music “Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence” by the well-known Japanese composer Ryuichi Sakamoto with an excellent double Axel. A very good triple flip came next and a combination of triple Lutz and triple toe loop in which the toe loop got a q for a small under-rotation. The three spins were very impressive, the step sequence with five GOEs of +4 stellar and her components had an average of 8.5.

After her serious health problems of 2020 with several stays in hospital, she commented, “The music was chosen by (choreographer) David Wilson, and he told me to put all my feelings into it and to reflect my whole life in this short program. When the choreography begins it shows how I struggled in my life, but then as the music goes on, when the step sequence comes and the music goes toward the peak of the program, that part shows how happy I feel to skate, to be here, to be back in the scene. As I feel all this, I couldn’t help crying in the step sequence, but in the end I was really happy that I was able to concentrate and to put in all the feelings into the program.”

In her passionate free program to the Spanish music “El Amor Brujo” by Manuel de Falla, three triple jumps were very good, but two others got a q and she almost fell on a flip which was planned triple. But she performed only one and a half rotation. Her spins were excellent , her two step sequences had many GOEs of +4 and her components were around 8.3. She commented, “Today with my free skating I have a lot of regrets, but I am happy to go to the Grand Prix Final. I hope by then I overcome the obstacles and will get my level up and will become a stronger person, I was not in my best condition, but from now on I would really want to show my best, especially at the Grand Prix Final. Some of my fans flew here all the way to support me from Japan. I met some of them on the plane and met others here”.

The 2022 World silver medalist Loena Hendrickx from Belgium had won the Grand Prix de France and was coached again by her older brother Jorik Hendrickx and choreographer Adam Solya. She won the short program in Espoo with a distance of 1.30 points to Mihara and the same elements, the same q, but higher components of around 8.8 and three GOEs of +5 for her layback spin. Her music was “Si Mama” by Romanian singer Inna and to “Mi Gente” by U.S. singer Beyonce. She explained, “I was satisfied with my performance today, especially since I had a hard time working towards this competition. I felt a little ill last week and my blood results were not very good, so I had to take a little bit of rest.”

After the competition in France, Hendrickx exchanged once more a piece of her free program music and has not two pieces by Karl Hugo, “Heaven” and “Fallen Angel”, which was specially composed for her. After a very good combination of triple Lutz and triple toe loop, she had two more good triples, but under-rotated a flip, fell on the under-rotated second Lutz and the second Axel was only single. Her spins were as excellent as always, her step sequences as well. Because of her mistakes, she had only the third best free program and dropped to second place, winning 203.91 points overall. She admitted,  “Today was not my day, I know I can do better. The aim was so far away before I started the season. I never thought I’d get the chance to be in the Grand Prix Final and I am proud I achieved this. We wanted to expand the artistry of the program, the accents and the nuance. The first part is in heaven, An angel struggles with her saints. The second part is ‘Fallen Angel’, it has more accents and more power and emotions. It is really unique that this music has been especially made for me.” Both top skaters certainly reach the Final.

Mana Kawabe from Japan won the bronze medal with 197.41 points. Skating to three songs by U.S. singer Billie Eilish, she performed a very good double Axel, a combination of triple Lutz (with a small edge warning) and a slightly under-rotated triple flip. Spins and step sequence were very good. She said, “The flip was not ideal, but overall I feel quite satisfied. I’ve been practicing the free skating much more than the short program. I’ve been focusing on not repeating the same mistakes as in France.” In her free program to “Drowning” by Anne Sila, she had three very good triples, her two Lutzes got a small edge warning and three of her jumps were under-rotated. But to give GOEs of -4 and -5 for these jumps was too hard a punishment. She commented, “I was able to be myself and show my program today, In my free skating I found a lot of things to improve. I want to practice my triple Axel.”

The third Japanese skater Rika Kihira finished on fourth position, earning 192.43 points. The student of Brian Orser and Tracy Wilson had been fourth at Worlds 2019, but since suffered from several health problems. Now she is coming back slowly. In her short program to “The Fire Within” by Jennifer Thomas, her double Axel and her combination of triple Salchow and triple toe loop were impressive, but she stepped out of the triple loop. Everything else was excellent. In her free program to the soundtrack of “Titanic”, all six triple jumps were at least good, the layback spin was even very good. Therefore she moved up from sixth to fourth position.

The Canadian Champion Madeline Schizas came fifth with 187.84 points. In the short program to “Black Swan” by Clint Mansell, which is mainly really Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake”, she performed a good double Axel and triple loop, but in her combination the triple toe loop after the triple Lutz was under-rotated. In her free program to Leonard Bernstein’s “Westside Story” she skated more stable than at Skate Canada. All six triple jumps were good, her combination even excellent. Her only mistake was a single Axel near the end.

U.S. skater Lindsay Thorngren of Montclair, New Jersey, student of Julia Lautowa and third at Junior Worlds 2022, placed sixth with 183.23 points. She was fourth in the short program to the “Concierto de Aranjuez” de Joaquin Rodrigo in a version by French composer Cedric Tour. There, six elements were at least good, the camel combination spin even excellent. But in her combination, the triple toe loop after the triple Lutz was under-rotated. The components were around 7.6. In her free program to three compositions by Cedric Tour, only two triples were good, three more under-rotated, two double jumps as well and she fell on the third part of a combination, a double loop. Her spins were excellent.

Anastasiia Gubanova is seventh with 166.57 points. She competes for Georgia and  stayed in Russia even after this year’s drafting because Russia has no female soldiers. All male Georgian skaters fled from this country having mostly dual citizenship. They did not want to be drafted to the army and die in the war. The elegant Gubanova who had competed for Russia until two years ago had been sixth at Worlds 2022 in France. In her short program, her triple flip was soso and the student of Evgeni Rukavitsin in St. Petersburg went down on the triple Lutz. In her free program, only three triple jumps were good, but two others under-rotated and she fell again on the triple Lutz.

Former U.S. champion Bradie Tennell lives now in Nice in France and trains there with Benoit Richaud. She finished eighth, earning163.98 points, ten more than at her first Grand Prix two weeks before. This time, she did not fall in the short program, had five good elements, but her triple Lutz before the triple toe loop of her combination was under-rotated and the triple loop got a q. She said, “Today was a really big step forward. Now I am a bit more back in the rhythm and more used to the competition atmosphere.” But in her free program to a “Four Seasons”- Medley, only one triple was good, but three under-rotated and she fell on both triple Lutzes. Later she said that she liked especially the middle part of her free program in which the young Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg says, “How dare are you!” and she looks to the judges.

None of the three Finnish women was really good. 23-year-old Jenni Saarinen finished on ninth place with 155.64 points. In the short program her combination of two triple toe loops was o.k. But in the free program, only one triple (Salchow) was successful. After the competition she officially announced the end of her career because it was no more fun. 15-year-old Janna Jirkinen is tenth with 154.45 points. She came as an alternate for Finnish Emmi Peltonen who withdrew in the last minute because she was not yet fit after a Covid-19 infection. Jirkinen is a big talent, but was very nervous on her first senior Grand Prix and popped the Lutz as well as the flip in the short program. Her free program was better with five good triples.

Linnea Ceder came 11th with 151.91 points. In her short program a step-out on the double toe loop in her combination with a triple Lutz was her only mistake, but she not get many pluspoints for her clean elements. In her free program only two triples were good. Eva-Lotta Kiibus from Estonia ended up 12th and last with low 138.89 points. She had to stay longer in Japan after the NHK Trophy because of the strike of Finnair. She now trains in the Netherlands under Dutch coach Thomas Kennes. In her short program she fell on the downgraded triple Lutz, the third spin was wobbly and her double Axel was under-rotated. In the free program only one triple was o.k., but she popped the Lutz and the loop.


The men’s competition at the Grand Prix Espoo in Finland had a good level. 17-year-old Ilia Malinin of Reston, Virginia, the new “Quadgod”, won with 278.39 points although he said in the press conference he had some small injury problems in his left foot and therefore he did not try any Lutz in the competition. Off the ice, he walked around with special shoes, but on the ice you did not notice any problems. He started his short program to “I Put a Spell On You” by Canadian singer Garou with a combination of quad toe loop and triple toe loop, but both jumps got a q for a slight under-rotation. His quad Salchow was excellent, but he stumbled on the triple Axel. Two spins were very good, but one was shaky, his components were around 8.2 and he was second there. He commented, “Even though it wasn't the best skate that I had, I still enjoyed performing for the audience. The Final is really important to me, but I just focus on my competition and try to be confident, trust in my training.”

After the free program which he easily won, he knew that he would get to the Final after winning Skate America in October. He skated to the soundtrack “Euphoria” and his first element was a quad Axel with a hand on the ice and a bit stepped out. His quad flip and his two quad toe loops were excellent, the second one in a combination with Euler and triple Salchow. The first quad Salchow also got a q and he added four more triples, including a difficult combination of triple flip and triple Axel. The spins got mainly GOEs of +3 and the step sequence +2. His choreo step sequence was outstanding with mainly GOEs of +4 and his components were around 8.4. He explained, “I’m still in shock at how was I was able to perform. I was a little mad after yesterday’s performance. I was really hoping that today I would forget about it and gain my confidence again, just to make sure that I am able to be in control of everything. The Grand Prix Final has always been a dream of mine, but I couldn’t go to the Junior Final with the cancellations last year. I put a lot of effort into trying to make the Grand Prix Final.”

Shun Sato from Japan trains in the practice rink of the Saitama Super Arena near Tokyo, where the World Championships in 2023 is planned. In Espoo he won the silver medal with 262.21 points although he has not much charisma. In the short program to “Carol Of the Bells” by Lindsey Stirling, he performed a clean quad toe loop, but fell on the quad Lutz. His triple Axel was good, his spins and step sequence were very good and his components around 7.7.

His free program to “Red Violin” originally by Joaquin Rodrigo was clean. He began with an excellent quad Lutz, followed by a very good combination of quad toe loop and triple toe loop, a good triple Axel and another quad toe loop. Four other triples came later, good spins and step sequences. He qualified for the Final as well after being third at the British Grand Prix. He explained, “Yesterday I was not happy with my short program, but I was able to recover and make up for it. My coach told me tomorrow is another day and I was able to skate clean. Of course I’m really happy I am in the Grand Prix Final. It is an event full of top skaters.”

Kevin Aymoz from France surprisingly won the short program and is third overall with 255.69 points in a successful comeback. He had suffered from an ankle injury since a bad fall in early October and had to cancel his participation at the French Grand Prix. But the week before coming to Espoo, he took part as a test in the Warsaw Cup, which he won without any quad, but otherwise excellently. In Espoo, too, he did not try any quad. Skating his short program to two music pieces by British musician Labrinth, he had six excellent elements, a triple Axel, the triple Lutz, the spins and outstanding step sequence. He only made a step between his triple flip (which got a small edge warning) and the triple toe loop in his shaky combination. He commented, “This is my first big competition this season. I got injured six weeks ago, I tore my ankle, I am glad to be here, even if I don't have the technical level to do big quads. This injury makes me realize that I am here to enjoy the moment.”

In the free program mainly to the soundtrack of “Gladiator”, the student of U.S. coach Silvia Fontana had six very good triples and an edge call on the triple flip. His step sequences were outstanding, though a bit wild. Without quads, he dropped to third place even with the highest components of the field of around 9.0. He was totally excited about his bronze medal, “I am really proud. Tonight I was confident, happy, there are many words. I was just in the moment and it was the best for me. Skating last was difficult. It’s a 45-minute wait, and you have to go out on the ice and be ready. I worked with my psychologist to try to eliminate what stressed me, and I just used the tools she gave me and voilà.”

The second Japanese man Tatsuya Tsuboi had boot problems before the competition and had won a bronze medal at Junior Worlds 2022. He finished on fourth position, earning 244.90 points. In his short program, he overturned the quad Salchow which also got a q. His triple Axel was good and in his combination the triple Lutz before the triple toe loop got a small edge warning. His free program was by far the best he has ever performed. He began with a very good quad Salchow, followed by two good triple Axels, the second one with Euler and triple Salchow. Five other triple jumps came later, four of which got mainly GOEs of +2 and the Lutz again with a small warning.

U.S. skater Camden Pulkinen, fifth at Worlds 2022, came fifth with 229.92 points. He moved to New York City to study business fulltime at Columbia University. He said he does not want to compete for Finland although some ancestors are Finnish, he feels as an American. In his short program to “Fly Me to the Moon”, he touched down on the quad toe loop, popped the Axel and almost fell on the first spin. Then he pulled himself together and his four remaining elements were good, including a combination of triple Lutz and triple toe loop. In his Tango free program, he performed a good quad toe loop and six triple jumps, but he singled a Salchow, doubled a Lutz and had problems with a spin.

Nikolaj Majorov from Sweden is sixth with 209.55 points. He skated with back pain, fell on the downgraded Axel and had no quads. In the free he performed four good triples, but stepped out of three others. He has to face a new rival in his home country for the spots at Europeans and Worlds because junior Andreas Nordeback had 20 more points at the Finlandia Trophy. 16-year-old Arlet Levandi was the better of the two Estonian skater and placed seventh with 209.50 points. His coach is his mother Anna Levandi, the former Soviet skater Anna Kondrashova who had won silver at Worlds 1984. Arlet is a big choreography talent and has worked with Benoit Richaud for years, but no big jumper. In Espoo he tried triple Axels for the first time, but missed them and promised, however, he will always try them in the future. The other triple jumps were good, however, and his step sequence in the short outstanding, but he fell on one in the free program.

Keegan Messing (30) from Canada finished eighth, earning 205.02 points in probably his last Grand Prix. He was very nervous because he wanted to show his best a last time, but missed a lot. In his entertaining short program the quad toe loop had no flow after the landing, he stepped out of the triple Axel and landed the triple Lutz of his combination with the triple toe loop very deep. His components were around 8.6, the second highest behind Aymoz and he was fourth. He began his free program with a hard fall on the quad toe loop, but added a good second one 15 second later, though without combination. Four mistakes came later, including a fall on the second triple Axel. Therefore he was last in the free skate and dropped from fourth to eighth position overall.

Valtter Virtanen from Finland is already 35 years old, is a Ph.D. in medicine and works in the emergency room of a hospital. He competes in his 17th year as an international senior, performed in his first Grand Prix ever and is still the only Finnish man with a good international level. His German wife Alina Mayer is his main coach and they have a two-year-old daughter. He has no triple Axel nor any quad, but everything else has a good standard. Therefore he came ninth with 204.02 points which was a new personal best for him, the first time over 200 points. In the short program, his combination of two triple toe loops and his triple Lutz were good, the spins even excellent, but he stumbled on the double Axel. In the free, he landed seven clean triple jumps.

Aleksandr Selevko from Estonia is tenth, earning 199.47 points. He came as an alternate for Kazakh skater Michail Shaidorov. Selevko went down on the quad toe loop and on the triple Axel in the short program, the other five elements were very good. In the free program, five triple jumps were at least good, but he made three other mistakes. The third Japanese skater Lucas Tsuyoshi Honda came 11th with 197.90 points. He missed all three triple Axels in both programs, but had four clean other triples in the free program. Morisi Kvitelashvili from Georgia ended up 12th and last with 196.80 points. He had even been 4th at the World Championships 2002 and has mental problems since he quickly left Russia in the summer and now trains in Italy with Lorenzo Magri. In the short he missed all three jumping elements. He began his free with a very good combination of quad Salchow and triple toe loop, but later made four big mistakes.


The pairs competition at the Grand Prix in Finland had a low level. No pair was excellent and everybody made several small or big mistakes. Rebecca Ghilardi & Filippo Ambrosini from Bergamo in Italy won the event with 189.74 points after taking the lead in the short program. They qualified for the Grand Prix Final in spite of a fourth place in France. In Espoo, they opened their entertaining short program to two songs of Freddy Mercury with a clean triple twist, followed by a side by side double Axel, which was landed correctly but far apart from each other. The triple throw Lutz was a bit shaky, but the step sequence excellent. Their components were around 7.7 (in both programs). Wearing a moustache, Ambrosini said, “We enjoyed skating our program. I represent Freddie Mercury and we feel this program, this music.” Ghilardi added, “It is a big opportunity for us to make the Grand Prix Final and we’d like to reach this goal. We just want to skate and be happy about our performance. Today we reached this goal. We’ve worked very hard for it and work is paying off.”

The first element in the free program to Rossini’s opera “The Barber of Seville”, was a triple twist again, this time not totally clean, followed by a combination of two double Axels with her stumbling on the second jump. After a small double Salchow of both partners, the three lifts were excellent, the triple throw loop a bit shaky, the throw Lutz good and the other elements very good. Ghilardi explained, “We were in our performance from the beginning to the end, but it is not easy to include into the competition.” Ambrosini added, “We worked in the last months to feel like one person, one movement, and today we had that feeling,”

Germany’s Alisa Efimova & Ruben Blommaert came as alternates for the Chinese pair of Cheng Peng & Yang Jin. They won the silver medal, earning 170.75 points after being fourth in the short program. Skating to two versions of Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata”, they performed a very good triple twist, an excellent triple throw loop and beautiful linking steps, but Efimova almost fell on the triple toe loop. In the free program to “Private Investigations” by Dire Straits and to “Sold my Souls” by the German band of “Two Wooden Stones”, they began with a very good triple twist, followed by a clean triple throw flip, but then he fell on the triple Salchow (she stepped out) and she missed the triple toe loop. The three lifts and the triple throw loop were good. Right after performing they had no points for the forward outward death spiral because Efimova was not deep enough near the ice. But after the end of the program the technical panel changed their mind and they got level 1.

Efimova explained, “During the warm up we decided to go for both triple jumps. We are of course a bit sad about the mistakes but overall we are feeling good about this competition. This is our second Grand Prix event and the first one we can skate to the end. For us, this competition showed that it is important to communicate during the competition and to always fight until the end,” After having won silver at the Finlandia Trophy in the same rink in October, Blommaert said, “This arena seems to be a lucky place for us. We were second both times, and we are looking forward to coming back here for Europeans,” The couple had to withdraw from Skate Canada after the Short Program due to a hip bruise after she badly fell. Therefore they had no chance to reach the Final.

Anastasiia Metelkina & Daniil Parkman from Georgia won the bronze medal with 166.56 points. Since they left Russia, they train in Berlin, Germany under the German coaches Alexander Koenig and Knut Schubert. They were very strong in the warm-up. In the short program to Beth Hart’s “I’ll Take Care of You”, their twist was very good, but her triple Salchow was near an under-rotation and she stepped out of the triple throw flip using her second foot very quickly to avoid a fall. Their expression was confident. Parkman said, “Today not everything worked out 100 per cent, but it is a step up from our last Grand Prix. We hope to continue the same way, to go up step by step.”

At the beginning of their free program to “Lamentations” by Quebec musician Marimuz, she doubled the Salchow and seemed to have forgotten the other two jumps, whereas he tripled the Salchow and added two double toe loops. She touched down on the triple toe loop. Their triple twist was very good, the triple throw loop as well. The three lifts were soso, the other elements more or less clean, including the triple throw flip. Parkman admitted, “Unfortunately, we didn’t show our best. We always have the one goal to show the best and to progress. Today we made one big mistake and it cost a lot of points, so we cannot say we are happy.”

The U.S. team of Anastasiia Smirnova & Danylo Siianytsia are of Bloomington, Minnesota, but both were born in the Ukraine. They had been fourth at Junior Worlds 2022 and finished on fourth position in Espoo, earning 165.12 points. In the short program to “Sound of Silence” by Paul Simon and performed by the U.S. metal band Disturbed, they made no serious mistake and were even second. The triple twist was good, but Smirnova touched down on the triple Salchow and her triple throw Salchow was deeply landed. He said, “This is our first Grand Prix on the senior circuit and we are pretty excited, especially about getting our season’s best.” They had to withdraw from Skate America earlier this season because he had heavy groin problems. In the free program to “Je suis malade”, performed by Lara Fabian, her triple Salchow was under-rotated, her triple throw Salchow landed on two feet and she went down on the toe loop, on which he stepped out. Two lifts were good, but the third one was aborted and they had only a double throw loop.

Daria Danilova & Michel Tsiba came fifth with 146.15 points. They are the better of two pairs from the Netherlands. They were ninth at Worlds 2022, which will allow two Dutch pairs to go to Worlds in Japan in 2023. Both pairs have reached the ISU technical minimum score for Worlds. At Europeans, the Netherlands have only one spot and after the Golden Spin in December it will be decided which pair goes there. Danilova & Tsiba mainly train with Dmitri Savin and Fedor Klimov. Five elements in the short program were good, the loop lift even very good, but Tsiba fell on the triple Salchow. In the free program, their triple Salchow and two lifts were good, the triple twist was tight, but Danilova fell on both triple throws, on the loop half a second after she seemed to have landed it. Her second double Axel in the combination was not clean and one lift got no points. Tsiba said, “The technical panel didn’t count one of our lifts, and we still need to figure out why.”

The other Dutch pair of Nika Osipova & Dmitri Epstein were alternates for the Georgians Karina Safina & Luka Berulava who had withdrawn after having big problems at the Grand Prix in France. The Dutch finished sixth with 138.10 points. They train mainly with Dmitri Kaplun and lately also with Olympic Champion Aliona Savchenko who works in the Netherlands. In the short program, their triple twist was o.k., Osipova landed the triple throw flip on two feet and fell on the triple toe loop. The other elements were mainly clean. In their free program, the twist was very good, the three lifts o.k., but Osipova stepped out of the triple throw Lutz and almost fell. She went down on the triple Salchow, had big problems with the toe loop which she doubled, but the triple throw Salchow was good.

Anna Valesi & Manuel Piazza from Italy placed seventh with 129.02 points. They had been invited instead of Lori Ann Matte & Thierry Ferland from Canada. The Italians were fifth at Skate America and have the same coaches as the winners. In their short program, Valesi fell after landing the triple twist, went down again on the triple throw flip and under-rotated the triple Salchow. The spin was a bit shaky, the other three elements relatively clean. In their free program, the triple twist was clean, but Valesi stepped out of the triple throw flip and fell hard on the (under-rotated) double Axel which followed the toe loop which he tripled and she doubled. Her double Salchow also was shaky, but their double throw loop good. The Axel lift near the end was not correctly landed.

Greta Crafoord & her brother John Crafoord from Sweden were invited as alternates for the Australian pair of Anastasia Golubeva & Hektor Giotopoulos Moore who had preferred to skate two Junior Grand Prix and reached the Junior Final. The Crafoords ended up eighth and last with 127.37 points. They are coached by Olympic Champion Aliona Savchenko and are back on the ice only since this September after a break of almost one year, when she broke her kneecap in half. Their technical content was still quite easy. Their twist in both programs was double, but good. Her double Axel in the short program was downgraded, their triple throw loop o.k., the other elements relatively clean. In the free program, she stepped out of the double Axel again and could not perform a correct jump combination after almost falling on the double flip. The double throws were soso, and the lifts relatively correct.

Ice Dance

The ice dance competition in Espoo had a very good level. After Skate Canada, Piper Gilles & Paul Poirier, the 2021 World bronze medalists and fifth at Worlds 2022, also won their second Grand Prix with a big distance to the rest of the field. This time the students of Carol Lane and Yuris Razgulajevs had 219.49 points. All five elements in the Rhythm Dance to the Cha Cha “What Do I Do?” by Lady Bri and to the Rhumba “Rhythm Only, Rumba 25”) by the Dancelife Studio Orchestra were outstanding, GOEs of +4 dominated. Their Choreo Rhythm Sequence, a non-level element, even had three GOEs of +5. Three other elements had a level 4 for both partners, the midline step sequence a level 3. The components were around 9.3, with some 9.75. Poirier commented, “This being the second event of our season we were a little bit excited. And so today's performance took a lot of mental fortitude.” Gilles added, “We know that there's still more of us to give, as the season goes on, but we're really happy with the development of the program. We're proud of the moment we have right now.”

In their fluid and very expressive free dance to the soundtrack of “Evita”, in which they play the Argentinian politician Evita Peron and the revolutionist Che Guevara, all ten elements were stellar and had mainly GOEs of +4, six of them had even some of +5, the choreo step sequence even had a +5 from six different judges. Five of the seven level elements had a level 4 and the two step sequences a level 3. The components had an average of 9.5, and for the first time in this season in all four categories, one of them was a 10.0. It was the French judge Sandrine Peizerat, the sister of the 2002 Olympic Champion Gwendal Peizerat, who gave this highest number of possible points for composition. Well done! Poirier indirectly regretted that they did not skate to this music in the Olympic season, which was not so successful, because they had had planned this music for many years, but never realized it. Gilles explained, “Going into our program today, we were a little bit tired. We're learning that it's O.K. to perform under any circumstances. Something we've learned over the past couple of years is trusting our training, and don't skate any more than we have that day. But we're really proud of our performance. We definitely felt that it was a step up from Skate Canada.”

U.S. dancers Kaitlin Hawayek & Jean-Luc Baker, who train in the Ice Academy of Montreal, won the silver medal with 202.46 points and also reached the final after winning silver at Skate America five weeks before. Their Pattern Dance Type Step Sequence had only a level 2 and the Midline Step Sequence a level 2 for her and 3 for him, the other two level elements a level 4. Dancing to the Sambas “Cuban Pete” and “El Cumbanchero” and the Rhumba “Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps”, all by Desi Arnaz and his orchestra, their entertaining Rhythm Dance was impressive as a whole and for the first time they had more than 80 points. Their components were around 8.8. Hawayek said, “As we've continued to develop in the sport, something that has come with our years of experience is an understanding of how to ground ourselves in the present moment. Today we really tried to not only lay down a solid performance, but also to find special moments within the performance for one another.”

In their free dance they used more serious or even sad music pieces of “Requiem” and to “Sofia” by the Norwegian composer Askjell Solstrand. All elements were excellent again. The levels were mixed, but GOEs of +3 dominated and each element had some +4, the Choreo steps even one +5. Their components were around 9.0. Hawayek said, “For us, it was a very good performance. There's moments when you skate where things feel effortless and things feel almost like you're in a trance, in a magical moment, and then there's other days where it feels like constant micro refocuses and work. It was one of those programs where we felt really proud of just being able to stand out there, execute and continue to show the improvement that we've made this season.” They did not take part at the exhibition gala because Hawayek had a small bursitis in her knee and did not want risk a bigger injury.

To the delight of the spectators, the Finnish couple of Juulia Turkkila & Matthias Versluis, 15th at the Olympic Games of 2022, won their first Grand Prix medal and the first ice dance Grand Prix medal for Finland because at the time when Susanna Rahkamo & Petri Kokko competed, a Grand Prix did not exist. Turkkia & Versluis won bronze with 191.79 points after being only seventh at the Grand Prix de France after a Rhythm Dance with a fall. In Espoo, the students of Maurizio Margaglio had been fourth in a strong Rhythm Dance, being 1.14 points behind the third position with mixed levels. Dancing to three Sambas and one Rhumba, they skated seemingly effortless and had program components of 8.2. In their speedy free dance to three romantic piano music pieces of Franz Schubert, everything looked easy again and they had four more points than the couple on third position, especially thanks to a higher speed, and they moved up to third place. Their components had an average of 8.5. Versluis commented, “It felt like a long day today and we felt a bit tired, but the home crowd gave us a lot of energy to skate through the free program, and we felt very ‘in the moment’ and tried to enjoy every second of the skate.” Turkkila added, “It gives us a lot of confidence. We know what we are capable of and we want to achieve more. This I just the beginning.”

U.S. dancers Christina Carreira & Anthony Ponomarenko finished on fourth position with 188.80 points. They mainly train with Canadian Olympic Champion Scott Moir in London, Ontario, who is head of the Ontario branch of the Ice Academy of Montreal, but also with Madison Hubbell and Adrian Diaz who work in London as well. For their Rhythm Dance they used two Sambas and one Rhumba. They had good levels, mainly GOEs of +3 and some +2 and components of 8.2. Ponomarenko explained, “We're really happy with the performances. We want to come in and capitalize on the events. We skated in Sheffield just a few weeks ago, and made the little improvements that we wanted to make in between.” In their free dance, however, to the soundtrack of “Backbone” and to Gershwin’s “Summertime”, they dropped to fourth place although they dd not make a big mistake. But their GOEs were a bit lower and one lift was too long. 

Natalie Taschlerova & Filip Taschler from the Czech Republic came fifth with 186.39 points. Their special strength is the high speed in which they always skate their programs. In Espoo the students of Matteo Zanni in Italy made no mistakes. In the Rhythm Dance to a Samba by Columbian singer Shakira and to a Rhumba by Spanish pop singer Enrique Iglesias, their levels were good and the GOEs mainly +2. In their free dance, they tried to skate to music which shows in favor of the protection of Nature, earning mainly GOEs of +2 and components of around 8.2.

Carolane Soucisse & Shane Firus from Canada came sixth with 175.63 points. Since this summer they do not train any more in Montreal, but have switched to the school of Carol Lane in Scarborough near Toronto. In their faultless Rhythm Dance to Samba and Rhumba, GOEs of +2 dominated and their components had an average of 7.8. In the free dance to “Aloha Ke” by the international music group “Nahko Bear and Medicine for the People”, their levels were mixed and the components around 7.8.

The second Finnish couple of Yuka Orihara & Juho Pirinen gave a very good impression, skated with a lot of charisma, and is seventh, earning 173.17 points. They were a bit under-marked because they are Finland’s number two. After competing at the NHK Trophy the week before, they could not fly from Japan right to Finland, but had to stay in Sapporo because of a strike of the airline company Finnair. They were happy to get an extra training in Japan. Their lift and twizzles in the Rhythm Dance had a level 4, the other two level elements a level 2. Their GOEs were mainly +2 and +3. In the entertaining free program to “My Jolly Sailor” and to “We’re Sinking” from the soundtrack of “Pirates of the Caribbean”, their levels were a bit lower, but the students of Italian Maurizio Margaglio could convince the spectators and skated the sixth best free dance after being eighth in the Rhythm Dance.

The U.S. team of Oona Brown and Gage Brown of Huntington, New York, Junior World Champions in April 2022, finished on eighth place with 166.70 points. In the Rhythm Dance to the Cha Cha “Bones”, his twizzles were a bit shaky and he only got a level 2 for them, his sister, however, a level 4. Their other elements were good. In the free dance, their circular step sequence got only a level 1. Everything else was good, but in their first senior season, they still skated a bit like juniors. Therefore their components were only around 7.4.

Shiyue Wang & Xinyu Liu from China, who train in Montreal, also could not fly from Japan to Finland right after the NHK Trophy because of the Finnair strike. They came ninth, earning 165.20 points, which was a bit disappointing for them. But it had not been possible for them to come back from China to Montreal a long time before. While in China, the Montreal coaches had worked online with them, but sometimes there were technical problems. In the free dance, Liu fell one second after the end of a lift and he had had heavy back pain. Natasha Lagouge and Arnaud Caffa from France, who train in Finland with Maurizio Margaglio and French coach Neil Brown,  ended up tenth with 151.63 points in their very first Grand Prix. They did not skate badly at all, on the contrary, most of their elements had mainly GOEs of +1.