by Klaus-Reinhold Kany
(30 November 2021) Victoria Sinitsina & Nikita Katsalapov, the reigning ice dance World Champions of Moscow (Papadakis/Cizeron did not compete at Worlds 2021) won the Rostelecom Cup in Sochi with 211.72 points. For their dynamic Rhythm Dance they used the Blues “You Can Leave Your Hat On” by Joe Cocker and the Funk “Brickhouse” by the U.S. band “The Commodores“. Their elements had mainly level 3, only the Midnight Blues section had a level 4 because they met all four keypoints. The GOEs were mainly +3 and +4. The components were around 9.6, with eight 10.0 from five different judges. Sinitsina commented, “We are pleased with our performance today, but it was not a 100 percent yet and there is a huge amount of things for us to work on. We went out with a positive mindset and the spectators were very welcoming and it was a great atmosphere at the rink.”
For their free dance they had selected two classical music pieces by Sergei Rakhmaninov: The Second Piano Concerto and his “Variations on a Theme by Paganini“ both of which they danced to in an excellent way and with a lot of feeling for the music. Five of the seven level elements had a level 4, but the midline step sequence and the stationary lift a level 3. The GOEs were mainly +4 because they were executed in an outstanding manner. The three non-level elements were brilliant as well and received GOEs of mainly +4. The curve lift, the rotational lift and the Choreo steps even had several +5, but these two lifts got a deduction because they were too long. And at the end of the stationary lift Katsalapov lost his balance, while he was putting his partner on the ice again. He avoided a fall only by stumbling and got deductions.
Sinitsina commented, “We think we should improve with every competition. We made a small mistake today, we know what it was and we have time until the Grand Prix Final to polish and fix it.“ Katsalapov added, “The mistake is exactly that - a mistake. We did not expect it, I wanted to put Viktoria down from the lift as gently as possible and probably overdid it. That is easy to fix. The two deductions for the extended lifts are something to work on. I counted but it did not help. I am not happy with our skate today, but it's an experience.“
Charlene Guignard & Marco Fabbri from Italy danced to the silver medal with 203.71 points. In the Rhythm Dance, the spectators heard a Funk, a Hip Hop and a Disco by Michael Jackson. The speed of the students of Barbara Fusar Poli was high, the levels were mixed after he slipped on the twizzles a bit and the GOEs had an average of +3. The sidelong lift was excellent and had mainly GOEs of +4. The components were around 9.1. Fabbri explained, “We have contrasting feelings about this performance. Overall we felt we skated much better here than at Skate Canada and we improved the performance. Unfortunately we had some problems with the twizzles, that’s why we lost some points there and we are a little disappointed about this mistake.”
Their modern free dance to the soundtrack of “Atonement” by Dario Marinelli and to “Little Sparrow“ by Abel Korzeniowski excelled by their quick footwork sequences with level 3. Another highlight was the combination lift which got two GOEs of +5. Their components were around 9.2. After the free dance they said they plan to continue to compete until the Olympic Games of 2026 in Italy. Fabbri said, “It was unexpectedly easy to skate today. We were feeling a bit tired in this competition, but skated easily and performed the best Free Dance of this season. We are proud to be in the Grand Prix Final in the Olympic season because all the top teams competed this year in the Grand Prix.”
Laurence Fournier Beaudry & Nikolaj Soerensen from Canada (he has a different spelling now as a Canadian now because the letter ö is not used in the English language) won the bronze medal with 191.40 points. In the Rhythm Dance to a medley of music by George Michael, they performed five good or very good elements which had mainly GOEs of +2. The step sequences had level 2 and 3, lift and twizzles level 4 and the components were around 8.6. Soerensen explained, “It felt pretty good today, but it wasn’t perfect. We definitely improved on the performance a lot in general and also on the technical side since Skate America.“
In their free dance to a music mix of five pieces, all elements were very good or excellent, including the combination lift. The levels were good, the GOEs were mainly +3 and the components had an average of 8.7. Soerensen said, “We are very happy with our performance today. We had the first and the last Grand Prix, so we really tried to improve from one to the next and we are happy with the result. We had really a good time.”
Sara Hurtado & Kirill Khaliavin from Spain finished in fourth position with 189.94 points. Like Sinitsina & Katsalapov, they train in the Moscow school of Alexander Zhulin. They made no mistakes in the Rhythm Dance to two songs of Beyonce, but their GOEs were mainly +2 because they lacked a bit of speed. Their free dance to “Since I’ve Been Loving You“ and to “Stairway to Heaven,“ both by Led Zeppelin, was faultless as well and had more GOEs of +3 than +2. Their components were around 8.7.
U.S. dancers Kaitlin Hawayek & Jean-Luc Baker, who train in Montreal, came fifth with 187.62 points. The Cup of Russia was their first competition in this season since Hawayek had had a concussion in the summer practice and needed time to recover. The level of the midline step sequence in the Rhythm Dance to two songs by Donna Summer was only 1. In the free dance they competed to a Prelude and a Nocturne by Frederic Chopin with better levels, but were a bit slow.
Anastasia Skoptcova & Kirill Aleshin from the Russian school of Svetlana Alexeeva are sixth with 180.93 points. They danced to “Uptown Funk“ by Bruno Mars and to “Bad to the Bone“ by the U.S. Bluesrock group The Destroyers in the Rhythm Dance and to “Romeo and Juliet“ versions with passion in the free dance. Their GOEs were mainly +1 in the Rhythm and +2 in the free dance.
Allison Reed & Saulius Ambrulevicius from Lithuania came seventh with 177.88 points. They still do not know if Reed gets Lithuanian citizenship in time before the Olympic Games. They qualified fort he Games with a 15th place at Worlds 2021 in Sweden. After training in Finland with Maurizio Margaglio, they were allowed to go to the Montreal dance school only in September. Contrary to the Grand Prix in France, they made no mistake in Sochi, but had mainly GOEs +2.
Elizaveta Khudaiberdieva & Egor Bazin from Russia ended up eighth with 177.51 points. They went back to their last year’s free dance of “Experience“ by Ludovico Einaudi after her new free dance was criticized at their first competitions.
Two couples withdrew and could not be replaced due to visa and immigration rules during Covid: Natalia Kaliszek & Maksym Spodyriev from Poland because Kaliszek has an injury, and Maria Kazakova & Georgy Reviya from Georgia also because of injury.