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Grand Prix Final Senior Dance Rhythm Dance

by Klaus-Reinhold Kany


(11 December 2022) Six world class ice dance couples had qualified for the Grand Prix Final and all of them gave excellent and entertaining performances, interpreting hot Latin music. There was no fall and nobody made any other big mistake, but the Technical Panel with the British technical controller Hilary Selby gave low levels to everybody.

Piper Gilles & Paul Poirier from Scarborough near Toronto, seventh at the Olympic Games and fifth at Worlds 2022, took the lead with 85.93 points. The Canadian athletes danced to the Cha Cha “Do What I Do” by U.S. singer Lady Bri and to the Rhumba “Rhythm Only (Rumba 25)” by the Dancelife Studio Orchestra. The rotational lift and the twizzles got a level 4, the two step sequences a level 2. Those four elements and the Choreographic Rhythm sequence, a non-level element, had mainly GOEs of +4, three of them even had some +5. Their components had an average of 9.4.

Gilles commented, “I am really happy with the performance that we had today. I think each time we’ve come out to perform this program it has gotten better. I think we were pretty excited. I think the energy here was like ‘Ahhh’.We had to try to pull it back a little bit in the program and I think that reflected in some of our levels. I think over the last couple of competitions we’re learning more and more about this program. We really wanted to make sure that this program was very ballroom-esque. We didn't really want it to be cheeky and corky like the other years that we've done Latin.” Poirier added, “I think overall what we are really learning to do it to make sure that in those small moments of discomfort that we're not letting the program and the presentation derail itself.”

Madison Chock & Evan Bates, who have trained in Montreal for years, sit second with 85.49 points. They had the same two level 4, but level 3 on the other two elements. Their technical points therefore were a little bit higher, GOEs of +3 and 4 dominated, but the components a little bit lower, around 9.3. They danced to Samba and Rhumba from “Let’s Dance” by David Bowie in a remix.

Chock explained, “We’re also so excited to be back here in Italy. We had the best time performing out rhythm dance today. We’re so proud of work we’ve been able to accomplish in such a short amount of time in the rhythm dance and the free dance. The audience was wonderful and gave us lots of energy at the end.” Bates added, “I think it’s more exciting for the audience, more exciting for the fans watching at home, in the Palevela and, of course, for all of us. We’re all very experienced and it feels that over the years there’s been many tight races. It seems like we’re always very close. It’s nothing new. It’s going to be fun and exciting and I think it’s good for the sport.”

Charlene Guignard & Marco Fabbri from Italy are currently third with 84.55 points. They danced to the Samba “This Is” and the Rhumba “I’m Crying”, both by Grace Jones and replaced the third piece of music by the Salsa “Cuba” after their second Grand Prix. Their levels were a bit lower, which is unusual for them. The midline step sequence had only a level 2 for her and 3 for him and the pattern dance sequence a level 3, but all elements were excellent and their components around 9.3.

Fabbri said, “It’s been an emotional night. It’s always nice to skate in front of the home crowd. You feel a little bit more pressure of course. After the two Grand Prix we tried to analyze the performance and the scores we got in the rhythm dance. We felt that the last choreo step and the last music were the two weaknesses in the rhythm dance. So we all agreed the last music was not as strong as other music so we decided to change it after Sheffield. We are a little upset because we were expecting a higher score for the execution of some elements.”

Laurence Fournier Beaudry & Nikolaj Soerensen from Canada sit fourth with 83.16 points. Dancing to three songs by Gloria Estefan, they had mixed levels, but all elements were very well executed. GOEs of +3 dominated and their components were around 9.0. Fournier Beaudry stated, “We were very excited to be here in our first Final and happy about our Rhythm Dance. The Grand Prix Final is very nice because we're up against all the best teams and just knowing that we deserve to be here among them is something big. It's a big step up.” Soerensen added, “Just enjoy a lot every time we're out there. We're really just trying to find each other's eyes and just create a moment that to us is really pleasant, and so whatever comes out of it, is just extraordinary. We had a full week of training and an extra three days coming back from Japan and it was really all we needed, we got to work and all this stuff.”

LiIah Fear & Lewis Gibson from Britain are on fifth place with 80.75 points. Their routine to three music pieces of Marc Anthony had a lot of fire and speed. Their levels were mixed, all elements had GOEs of mainly +3 and their components were around 8.9. Fear explained, “We feel so happy this whole week, it just felt like such a treat for us to be here, dreamed of doing for so long, so we've really been soaking in every moment including our rhythm dance performance, and we both are proud of our skate. I think both of us we never really set specific goals because we like to just be open to what's possible when we need to show up our best. It's something that's really bold and it's a strong message that we both really believe in and resonate so much, so I think we want to really touch as many people as we can in such a supportive audience and do some really courageous powerful skates.” Gibson added, “Just really happy with the skate. Everyone is so great at the Grand Prix Final of course and it's really just pushing us which is good. We had National Championships last weekend. So we've been in Europe and we really enjoyed that.”

The U.S. team of Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker, who trains in Montreal, ended up sixth with 79.50 points. They had good levels, GOEs of mainly +3 and +2 and components of 8.8. Hawayek said, “It was a good performance. We haven't skated first in a while, so it was a reintroduction to kind of a quick warm-up for us, and I think our performance might not have felt as relaxed as Finland or America per se, but we did make some improvements on levels. So I think overall it's still growing but we're happy with the growth.” Baker added, “Qualifying here was absolutely one of the first goals for us, but now that we're here, we have to always strive to win. I mean if we are just striving to compete, then we're going to stay in the same place.”