By Klaus-Reinhold Kany
The short dance of the ten ice dance couples was the second part of the French Grand Prix in Grenoble. The level was very high, there were no falls and only one serious mistake in the whole segment of the dance event.
It was no surprise that Gabriella Papadakis & Guillaume Cizeron from France, World Champions in 2015 and 2016 and second at Worlds in 2017, took the lead easily with 81.40 points. They train in the world’s most successful ice dance school in Montreal mainly with Romain Haguenauer. This is a new international personal best for them and 0.30 points more than they had at the Cup of China two weeks before. They skated to a Rhumba and a Samba by Ed Sheeran: "Shape of You“ and "Thinking Out Loud“ and met the required Latin character excellently. Cizeron likes to show his body and wore a simple black top which underlined the heat in which Latin dances are often performed. The program components of the nine judges had an average of 9.8 and no less than 12 of the 45 components were a perfect 10.0: five for Performance, three for Composition and four for Interpretation. Two of the 10s came from the U.S. judge Richard Dalley, a former top ten dancer at World Championships.
Four elements had a level 4 and the pattern dance step sequence a level 3. The GOEs were mainly +3, with some +2 and no lower GOEs at all. Cizeron later commented: "It was a lot of fun to perform to this great audience today and we’re very happy with our points. It’s a season’s best and we’re confident about our improvement. There is still a lot of room for improvement, but we’re very happy with tonight,“ Papadakis added:“This year we wanted to have a short dance that was really like us and that we can relate a lot more to than usual. We love the song, we love the choreography and we have really fun with it. We knew that our weak point often was the technique in the short dance and we worked a lot on it this summer.”
Madison Chock & Evan Bates from Igor Shpilband’s school in Novi, Michigan, second at Worlds 2015, but only seventh in 2017, sit second, collecting 73.55 points. Their music pieces were composed by Mark Anthony: The Salsa "Aguanile“, the Rhumba "Que Lio“ and the Samba "Vivir mi vida“. They had a very good speed as well. The twizzle sequence and the curve lift had a level 4, the other three elements a level 3. Their GOEs were mainly +2, with a few +3, and their components had an average of 9.1, with some 9.5 as highest ones. Bates said: “We’re very pleased with the way we skated. I think we’re getting more comfortable with the program, it’s the second time we’ve competed it. It maybe wasn’t as strong technically as in China, but it was a season’s best as far as the score.”
Alexandra Stepanova & Ivan Bukin, Russia’s second best dance team from the Moscow school of Alexander Svinin, are on a surprising third position with 70.02 points. They also made no mistakes, their twizzle sequence and their curve lift had a level 4, their two step sequences a level 3 and the required Rhumba part a level 2. They also used Rhumba and Samba music pieces by four different composers and had mainly GOEs of +2 with a mixture between +3 and 0. Their components were around 8.6. Bukin explained: “We’ve worked a lot with ballroom dance teachers. I’m not sure that we are moving as well as Gabriella and Guillaume, but we’re trying our best,”
Italy’s second best dance team of Charlčne Guignard & Marco Fabbri from the Milan school of Barbara Fusar Poli are currently fourth, winning 69.73 points. They skated to a Salsa, a Rhumba and a Samba of Latin composers in good speed and without mistakes as well. The had the same levels as Chock and Bates and GOEs of +2 and +1, with one +3 for their rotational lift. Their presentation is a bit less strong than those of the top teams especially because Fabbri is a bit smaller. But on the other hand they can do quick little steps excellently.
Canada’s second best dance team of Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje sit only in fifth position with 68.94 points. Poje made the only serious mistake of the event when he almost fell on the second part of the twizzle sequence and almost had to stop for a moment. Therefore the element got only a level 1 and GOEs of -2 from the majority of the nine judges. Maybe this happened due to a dizziness in his head because during the five-minute-warm up Poje had crashed against the boards with his arms, legs and head after a bad fall. Their curve lift had a level 3, the other three elements a level 3 and their components an average of 9.1. They skated to a Bolero Tango by Dianne Reeves and the Mambo "Do you only Wanna Dance“, performed by the Julio Daivel Big Band. Weaver had been a bit injured before the event, so they were not sure to come until a few days before the Grand Prix.
Igor Shpilband’s second American dance couple of Elliana Pogrebinsky & Alex Benoit, fourth at U.S. Nationals last season, are on sixth place with 60.64 points. They danced to a Samba, a Rhumba and a Merengue and had a level 4 for the twizzle sequence and their spectacular curve lift which is their highlight for which they got a lot of applause. They had two levels 3 and one level 2 for their parallel step sequence. Their components had an average of 7.3.
Alla Loboba & Pavel Drozd from the Moscow dance school of Ksenia Rumantsieva sit seventh, earning 60.43 points. They were second at the World Junior Championships 2017 (behind the Parsons siblings from the USA) and have just moved up to the senior level. They had mainly GOEs of +1, two level 4 elements, two with level 3 and the parallel step sequence with level 2.
Angelique Abachkina & Louis Thauron from France also train in the Shpilband school, mainly with French assistant coach Fabian Bourzat. They currently sit on eighth position with 59.81 points. Like Loboda & Drozd, they moved up from Juniors this season. In Grenoble, they had two level 4 elements, one with level 3 and two with level 2. Natalia Kaliszek & Maksym Sporyriev from Poland are ninth with 58.58 points. They lacked a bit of speed, especially during their steps. Lorenza Alessandrini & Pierre Souquet are France’s dance couple number four. They train in Lyon in France and finished tenth with 54.07 points. Their highlight was an excellent stationary lift.