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Grand Prix Final Senior Dance Free Dance

by Klaus-Reinhold Kany


(12 December 2022) The Free Dance at the Grand Prix Final had a very good level even if the Technical Panel did not see that. It is a bit strange of the Technical Controller Hilary Selby and the two technical specialists to give several levels 2 to each of the best ice dance couples in the world who had levels 4 when other panels judged. Almost all dancers complained about the low levels and points.

Piper Gilles & Paul Poirier of Scarborough, Ontario, won the gold medal with 215.64 points. Skating to the musical “Evita” about Eva Peron, the wife of Argentinian politician Juan Peron, they performed ten outstanding elements in which GOEs of +4 dominated. Five of them even had GOEs of +5, the Choreographic Steps and the Choreographic Assisted Jump even received +5 from five of the nine judges. Their components were around 9.5, with one perfect 10.0 for presentation from the British judge, which was correct. Gilles commented, “I think one of the things Paul and I love about competing is skating for the fans. I think we really missed that last year. We really missed feeding off the energy people give us. So, being here in Torino and having a full crowd, the biggest crowd we’ve had all season. We’re just so thankful for them to come back and enjoy the sport that we all love. We just let it skate today and I think it topped the other programs because we just fell in love with the moment and the feeling and it was wonderful.”

Poirier added, “I think we’re really proud of our performance today. We really brought the crowd with us. It’s a really special moment for us. We said all along our goal for this season for us is to really recapture our joy of skating. This is a rink that we both love, it just has such a magical Olympic feel to it, and the last final we did was here, so it was nice to come back and have a sort of familiar environment.”

Madison Chock & Evan Bates won the silver medal with 211.94 points. Their diagonal step sequence only got a level 1 for both partners, which was very strange. They executed all elements in an excellent way and GOEs of +3 dominated. Three of them even had some GOEs of +5 and their components were around 9.4. They danced to “Souffrance” by French music group Orange Blossom and to “Les Tectoniques” by Quebec musician Jorane.

Chock explained, “We decided to drive the free dance into a more contemporary direction, adjusting the choreography and really just opening ourselves up to a new line of dance that we haven’t yet explored for ourselves. Evan and I are very proud of our performance today. It was a huge joy, joyous feeling to skate and have this energy between us. This free dance has been a constant evolution through the Grand Prix. We really revamped our style of skating in the program and style of dance. Now, we’re in a place that we are really proud of and push this program even further.” Bates added, “The story that we are going for is Madi is the spirit of fire and I’m the spirit of air. It’s like a whirlwind just like the fire can be this season. We felt that these characters suit us in who we are off the ice.”

Charlene Guignard & Marco Fabbri from Italy won the bronze medal, earning 206.84 points. GOEs of +3 and +4 dominated in their elements, four of them even had some +5. They train with Barbara Fusar Poli in Milan, their components were around 9.3 and they interpreted “My Love Will Never Die” by Claire Wyndham, “Mephisto’s Lullaby” by Israeli composer Yair Albeg Wein and “Eden” by Spanish-Mexican singer Belinda. Fabbri said, “We’re very happy with the way we skating tonight even though we know we could have performed some things a little better. Still, it was a great feeling to skate here in Italy and to go back home with a bronze medal which is really important to us. We’re just a little disappointed in the scores. We lost quite a lot of levels between yesterday and today. Honestly, this is one of the lowest scores we ever had. So we’re going to find out the reason why but we’re really happy with the way we performed. Beautiful for sure, especially for our home crowd that today was particularly conspicuous. It was a pleasant experience.”

Lilah Fear & Lewis Gibson are in fourth position with 200.90 points. Dancing to “Born This Way” and to “Million Reasons”, both by Lady Gaga, they had a very good speed and were entertaining. All elements were excellent and had mainly GOEs of +3, the Choreo Twizzles and the Choreo steps even one GOE of +5 from two different judges. Their components had an average of 9.0.

Fear commented, “I think I'm over the moon personally I had the best time out there. It was an experience that I'll always treasure. I think we skated exactly what we wanted to skate, we just soaked it all in and of course, the extended lift and there were few levels on the steps. But that's what's exciting for the rest of the season, to see where we can improve. We always learn a lot in each competition, and I feel like from the last week at Nationals we learned stuff to bring here and here to move forwards. I think this is our 6th or 7th competition already, so we are a bit tired and we're ready to just take a little bit time off and then to have a really strong show at the European Championships. Later, we'll be in Tokyo for Worlds, so I think maybe staying there.”

The U.S. team of Kaitlin Hawayek & Jean-Luc Baker is fifth with 198.06 points. All their elements were very good and had GOEs of mainly +2 and +3. Their components were around 8.9. They train in the Ice Academy of Montreal and danced to “Requiem” and to “Sofia”, both by Norwegian composer Askjell Solstrand. Hawayek explained, “We were thrilled with the performance, it was a skate that we felt incredibly present the entire time we performed it. We didn’t score as high as we thought we would have, so, we’ll definitely continue to build for our next events. But we’re really happy with the performance and at the end of the day that’s all we can control.”

Baker added, “I think for us we’re just really focusing on the energy management in between the two events. We had fairly decent levels in the Free Dance in Finland. For us, definitely being on the podium at the Four Continents is a big goal. We’re definitely not happy with the score that we got today. We know we can do better but in terms of score, yes, but the performance for today’s purpose we thought we really maximized in where we’re at right now for December 10th through 11th.”

Laurence Fournier Beaudry & Nikolaj Soerensen from Canada were fourth in the Rhythm Dance, but dropped to sixth and last with 196.15 points. Both fell during a curve lift when Soerensen lost balance while holding and turning her in a difficult position. Without this fall they would probably have remained in fourth place because everything else was excellent, had mainly GOEs of +3 and their components were around 8.9.

Soerensen said, “I couldn’t even be angry when I got off the ice because I was so happy with what we were able to do felt really good out there. I think it’s spur of the moment think when a mistake happens when your mind drifts because you feel so good out there. I think it was a concentration thing and I’m really proud we were able to come back and do the rest.”