by Klaus-Reinhold Kany
(29 October 2017) The ice dance competition finished with the same high level as the short dance, and overall it was the highest level of all four categories. There was only one serious mistake in the whole competition and all couples were very well prepared.
The reigning world champions Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir were in excellent shape and won with a new world record of 199.86 points. In their free dance to two pieces of the often used soundtrack of Moulin Rouge, they excelled. There are hundreds of Moulin Rouge programs, but they interpreted it in a different and much more fascinating way than anybody else has ever done. Their movements to the Tango de Roxanne were extremely characteristic, tight and sultry. You could feel the fight between woman and man. In the second part they excellently danced to the love story "Come what May“ from "Moulin Rouge“ which you do not hear very often on the ice. Therefore they had extremely high components with an average of 9.8 and no less than 18 perfect 10.0.
The steps and step sequences were very intricate (even if they had only level 3) and the lifts very risky and spectacular. Three lifts had only GOEs of +3, the choreographic lift at the end also some +2. The other elements were outstanding as well and everything except the steps got a level 4. Moir later commented: “We were anxious today, we were a little nervous. We wanted to perform well because this is a program we are emotionally attached to and we felt the pressure. We wanted to put on a show and start the year with a bang and it translated well. We’re looking forward to build on this experience for NHK Trophy in a couple of weeks.”
Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje decided to change their free dance in early October. After discussion with coach Nikolai Morozov they abandoned the Spartacus free program and went back to the program of 2012 to "Je suis malade“, sung by Lara Fabian. "Spartacus was a great program, but something was missing“, Weaver explained. "In an Olympic year we feel it’s very important for us to state our case immediately. So there was a lot of dusting off to be done and the rules had changed as well, so we had to update several things. But ultimately this is the best we can be and this program, we feel, is very representative of ourselves and our team.”
Therefore the program did not look mature yet, but the elements were excellent. They even had one level higher than Virtue and Moir, but more GOEs of +2 and less +3 than the world champions. Their components had an average of 9.3 and they won silver with 190.01 points. One point of deduction for an extended lift was responsible for the fact that they had only the third best free dance, but it was still world class.
Madison Hubbell & Zachary Donohue, who train in the big Montreal school, skated their free dance to "Across the Sky“ and to "Caught out in the Rain“ and won the bronze medal with 189.43 points. They had the same levels as Virtue & Moir and did not dance much less excellently. Their GOEs were split between +2 and +3 and the average of their components was around 9.3. Hubbell said: "Zach and I are filled with gratitude – with gratitude for each other and for our team that has been training us so well. It was a really good day for us and we’re looking forward to going back home and train more.”
Kaitlin Hawayek & Jean-Luc Baker of Detroit finished fourth, earning 165.20 points. Their classical program to "Liebestraum“ (Dream of Love“) by Franz Liszt is a contrast to the modern programs of most other teams. But they interpret this music with a lot of softness and ease. They also had a level 4 for most elements and a level 3 for the two step sequences. The majority of the GOEs was +2, with some +1. The components were around 8.2.
Alla Loboda & Pavel Drozd from Russia gave a good senior Grand Prix debut after winning medals at Junior World championships. They interpreted the musical "Chicago“ with a lot of passion and high speed. They finished on fifth position, winning 155.72 points and their components were around 7.7.
Olivia Smart & Adria Diaz from Spain dropped from fourth place after the short dance to sixth place with 154.81 points. Diaz almost fell during the twizzle sequence and this cost many points because the sequence only had a level 1 and some GOEs of -1. Otherwise the program to "It’s a Man’s Man‘s World“ by Seal was well executed. All other elements received positive GOEs and their components were around 7.8. Carolane Soucisse & Shane Firus (the younger brother of single skater Liam Firus) from Canada ended seventh, earning 150.27 points. Their step sequence had a level 2, but the other elements a level 4 and their components around 7.7.
The German champions Kavita Lorenz & Joti Polizoakis, who were 20th at the World Championships, were quite happy with their performances and their Grand Prix debut with their eighth place with 146.09 points. But they had hoped for more points and levels. They danced to the soundtrack of "Pride and Prejudice“ in a romantic and poetic way. Five elements had a level 4 and the two step sequences a level 2. Their components were around 7.3. "It was fun to skate and a good training for us to compete in front of a big crowd“, Polizoakis said. "We know we still have to train especially the step sequences. This is what we will do in the next couple of weeks. We have to learn to be more relaxed. It is excellent to compete with some of the best dancers in the world.“
The Polish couple of Natalia Kaliszek & Maksym Spodyriev who were 15th at Worlds came only ninth with 144.78 points because Kaliszek had fallen during the twizzle sequence in the short dance. Their free dance to Swing music was faultless, but they remained behind the Germans. The Turkish couple of Alisa Agafonova & Alper Ucar finished tenth and last with 140.83 points, but their middle Eastern dance was interesting as well