by Klaus-Reinhold Kany
(4 November 2019) The free dance in Grenoble had a very good level, nobody was weak.
Gabriella Papadakis & Guillaume Cizeron from France ran away with 222.24 points, like it could be expected. They had chosen an avant-garde music with longer passages of rhythmical words to “Danny“ and to “Suspects“ by 33-year-old Icelandic composer Olafur Arnalds and the poem “Find me“ by Forest Black. They did not get the highest levels on the two step sequences, but had explained before that they concentrate more on the performance than on the technical aspects as long as no other couple endangers their first place. Their elements looked as effortless as usual, even some very intricate steps, but were extremely precise nevertheless. Therefore GOEs of +5 and +4 dominated. Their components had an average level of 9.8, with 17 (of the 45 possible) perfect 10.0.
Papadakis commented: “We are very lucky to be competing in France in our first international competition, because we are at home. It was a really great competition. We’re looking forward to Japan (the NHK Trophy) and to work on all the things that didn’t quite go the way we wanted, and to make it even better there.” Cizeron added: “This program is a little bit about death, but not in a really tragic way. It’s about two connected souls that want to find each other after life, after whatever they are going through. I think in this way it connects to everyone.”
Madison Chock & Evan Bates, like Papadakis & Cizeron from Montreal, had already won the B level competitions in Salt Lake City and Germany. They call their entertaining free dance a snake dance in which Chock is a snake in the desert and Bates finds her. He is dehydrated, in a delirium and does not know if she is a Fata Morgana. But she turns into a woman. Skating to three oriental music pieces, all nine elements were excellent, four of the six level elements had a level 4, the two step sequences level 2/3 (lady and man separated) and 2. The three choreographic elements don’t get levels. Their components were around 8.9, with one perfect 10 for interpretation. Bates explained: “We skated really well both short and free, and we are very pleased with the way the programs kind of open up and carry more speed throughout. I think doing two Challengers really was beneficial for us. Now we go to China on Monday for the Cup of China, so not much time to make any changes. The programs are in a good place and we’ll just build off the good skates this weekend and hopefully continue to improve.”
Charlene Guignard & Marco Fabbri from Milan in Italy accumulated 203.34 points, won bronze and came close to the Americans in spite of his injured hand. They were the only couple who got level 4 in all level elements. With their “Space Dance“ with music of “Space Oddity“ by Amanda Palmer and to “Life on Mars?“ by Lukas Nelson they want to change their image to a more modern direction. Fabbri said: “For the first time in my life I have to say that I’m super proud of what we did. We didn’t think we would have been here until one week ago. We couldn’t expect more from this competition. There are obviously some things that need to be improved and some things that will be changed when I’ll be able to use my right hand again.”
Olivia Smart & Adrian Diaz from Spain finished fourth with 188.18 points after competing with mixed levels to “Micmacs a tire-largot“ by Raphael Beau and to “My One and Only Love“ by Thom Hanreich. Tiffani Zagorski & Jonathan Guerreiro from Russia came fifth, earning 184.44 points. Zagorski had bad luck when she was waiting in front of the hotel for the shuttle bus to the rink. A pickpocket grabbed her purse in her bag and ran away with 150 Euros in it. Fortunately there were no important papers, keys or credit cards in her purse. They had very good levels in their free program to “Survivor“ by 2Wei.
Natalia Kaliszek & Maksym Spodyriev from Poland had started their competition season only one week before at the Ice Star Challenger competition in Minsk because he had an injury in the summer when she had hit his leg in practice. They finished on sixth position with 183.42 points. Their music pieces were the musical "Kinky Boots“ and "Dirty Dancing“. Three songs by Tom Jones were the background sound for Canadians Carolane Soucisse & Shane Firus. But for the third one (“Sex Bomb“ which is known since Evgeni Plushenko used it for an exhibition number for many years in which he seemed to show his body muscles) they did not use the vocal version because neither sex nor bomb is politically correct any more.
Marie-Jade Lauriault & Romain le Gac from France, who train in Montreal, were not as sparkling as last season and finished eighth with 166.28 points. Their countrymen Julia Wagret & Pierre Souquet-Basičge, who train in Florida, finished on ninth place with 161.99 points. They skated a bit sloppy, but relatively well nevertheless. Allison Reed & Saulius Ambrulevicius from Lithuania ended up tenth with 161.73 points.
(2 November 2019) The Rhythm Dance at the French Grand Prix had a very good level, especially in the top six. For the third time in this year’s Grand Prix, a judging or programming error in the calculation was revealed. The five couples from Montreal arrived without their luggage with the skates. There was a power failure in the baggage area of the airport of Brussels where they changed planes. But all suitcases arrived in the evening before the first practice.
It was no question that the four times World Champions Gabriella Papadakis & Guillaume Cizeron from France would win the Rhythm Dance. Year after year they confirm their role as “Torvill & Dean of the 21st century“. They are the top dancers of the "Ice Academy of Montreal“ (IAM) which has 22 couples from many countries. Their main coach is Romain Haguenauer who came from France five years ago, their main choreographer is Marie-France Dubreuil from Canada. Their Rhythm Dance to the film musical "Fame“ is another outstanding idea with an aerobic-themed program. They did not even get the highest levels because they always say they concentrate more on performance than on technique as long as there is no other couple which may jeopardize their leading role. And at the moment there is none. Especially Cizeron is a really outstanding and extremely flexible dancer and artist. Four of the five elements had one or the other GOE of +5, the acrobatic Stationary Lift even five. Their components had an average of 9.7, with eight of the 45 possible 10.0. They won the Rhythm Dance with 88.69 points.
Their costumes in aerobic outfits in pink and light green are very unusual, but they reflect the role of the would-be artists in the musical in an ideal way. Papadakis commented: “It was a fun performance. We were quite nervous, because it was our first (international) competition, but I think we were very lucky that it was in France. The audience was very responsive and very supportive, so it helped during the performance. We made a couple of small mistakes, so we have some things to work on for the next one.” Cizeron added: “It’s really fun for us that it is really different. It’s different from what everyone else is doing and it’s different from what we’ve been doing. It was a kind of a challenge to work on this program and make it fun.”
U.S. dancers Madison Chock & Evan Bates, who train with the French in Montreal every day, are second with 80.69 points. Their outstanding Straight Line Lift had three GOEs of +5, but their Finnstep was only a level 1 and their Diagonal Step Sequence a level 2. They danced to a Blues, a Quickstep and a Swing from “Too Darn Hot“ by Cole Porter and their components were around 9.0. Bates said: “We really had our best performance of the season. It’s our third time out and I felt like we’re really getting comfortable with the program and were able to have more energy throughout the program. It was really an amazing atmosphere in the arena today.”
Charlčne Guignard & Marci Fabbri from Italy are on third place with 79.65 points. After winning the Lombardia Trophy in September, they had a practice accident. They fell and Guignard skated by accident over his right hand and injured some tendons. Surgery was needed and he could not use this right hand for holding her and doing lifts. They had to adapt some movements to his left hand and he came to Grenoble in a cast. But four elements had a level 4 and were excellent, he only stumbled on the twizzle sequence. They skated to a Blues and a Quickstep from the Cirque du Soleil’s “Paramour“. They finished on third position with 79.65 points.
Fabbri explained: “I’m super happy and super angry at the same time. The only element I didn’t use my hand I made a mistake. It was a really stupid mistake that cost us a lot of points. But I will not complain. We just decided to come (to the competition) two days before departure. Until one week ago we didn’t think we could come to France as the doctors told us I would not be able to do a program. I couldn’t use my hand and I wasn’t even thinking that we could adapt everything.”
Olivia Smart & Adrian Diaz from Spain (also from IAM) are currently fourth with 76.09 points. They skated to “Grease“ and had mixed levels. Tiffani Zagorski & Jonathan Guerreiro from Russia are fifth with 75.05 points after a performance with five good elements. Natalia Kaliszek & Maksym Spodyriev from Poland landed on sixth place, earning 74.19 points with very good levels and skating to “Kinky Boots“ by Cyndi Lauper. Canadians Carolane Soucisse & Shane Firus (from IAM) sit seventh with mixed levels and 68.61 points. Julia Wagret & Pierre Souquet-Basičge from France are currently eighth with 63.55 points. Their levels were good, but the execution of the elements a bit sloppy and he fell before the final pose.
After two judging errors at Skate America, there was a third one in Grenoble. The French and the Lithuanian couple made a mistake during the Finnstep sequence and the system gave them zero points for this element. But this was wrong, they still should get some points. The couples complained right after the competition and the draw order for the free program plus the press conference were postponed. They officials researched and corrected the result half an hour later, which was allowed and made sense because it was a technical mistake and not a wrong decision of the jury. The ISU later published a communication in which they wrote: “There were two instances of wrong data input of the Pattern Dance Element (Finnstep) which had been detected in due time by the Referee. The correction of the data resulted in a new score for the couples Marie Jade Lauriault & Romain Le Gac (FRA) to 63.42 points and Allison Reed & Saulius Ambruvelicius (LTU) to 60.99 points. The ranking of the Rhythm Dance did not change.“ How this data entry error came about, we do not know.
Sure is that Lauriault fell during this Finnstep sequence and finished ninth. Reed & Ambrulevicius were alternates for the U.S. team of Lorraine McNamara & Quinn Carpenter, who are injured, and ended up tenth. At exactly the same Finnstep section, where a difficult step with a key point is required, they came too close together and lost their rhythm for a few seconds.