The 21st time’s the charm.
Since they debuted on the Junior Grand Prix circuit in 2000 and moved up to seniors in 2002, France’s Nathalie Pechalat & Fabian Bourzat have never finished higher than second.
In a runaway victory, Pechalat & Bourzat won gold with a total score of 159.59. Their Chaplin free dance earned both the highest TES and PCS, giving them an almost six point margin of victory in the free dance and 14.2 overall. Their diagonal step sequence and twizzles received level 3, while all other elements — including the circular footwork! — earned level 4. They did not receive a single negative GOE and PCS ranged from 7.5 to 9.0.
After six trips to senior Grand Prix events, Russians Ekaterina Bobrova & Dmitri Soloviev won their first medal — a silver — after pulling up to place second in the free dance and overall with 149.39. They got off to a bit of a shaky start on their level 4 twizzles losing .36 GOE on the element. From that point on they didn’t receive any negative GOE, racking up predominantly +1s and +2s on their elements. Both footwork sequences and their final rotational lift were called level 3, while everything else was level 4. PCS from 6.75 to 8.25 seemed high, although the program to “Melody of the White Nights” may have lost something when watched online.
When Federica Faiella & Massimo Scali of Italy took the ice for warm-up — she in a longish dark red dress and he in an 80-pound, vivid blue Paso Doble outfit with lots of gold decoration — one could not help but make a mental wager at which point in the free dance would there be a fall, and would it be both or just him. The answers: the straightline lift and both.
Skating a Paso Doble-like program to Flamenco music (Pasenco? Flamoble?), Faiella & Scali looked somewhat tentative. Their disastrous straightline lift and diagonal step sequence were called level 2, circular steps and twizzle level 3, and the spin and other lifts a level 4. The GOE (aside from the -3s on the fall) were primarily 0 and +1, with one enthusiastic judge doling out the +2s. The PCS ranged from 7.25 to 8.75 and their final score was 139.52.
Fourth in the free and overall with 130.82, Hungary’s Nora Hoffman & Maxim Zavozin skated their “Gypsy Witch” program in their third competition of the season. The dance started off with dramatic flair and witchy cackling, but lost its spark and just went through the elements for the remaining three and a half minutes. Three lifts earned level 4, but their curve lift was called only a level 1. Both step sequences and the twizzle were level 3s, and their opening spin a level 2. All GOE netted a positive number, even though the individual scores included some -1s among the predominantly 0 and +1s. Out of the 45 Program Component Scores, 42 kept in the narrow range of 6.25-7.25.
Although they placed sixth in the free dance, Xintong Huang & Xun Zheng from China were able to hold onto fifth overall with a total of 124.60. Skating to an unusual medley of performances of the song “Singing in the Rain” and wearing a fluffy baby pink chiffon dress (her) and a preppy beige sweater (him), the duo ran the gamut of levels: 1 for the rotational lift, 2 for their midline step sequence (the only element that earned a negative GOE), 3 for their serpentine step sequence, and 4s on their spin, twizzles, and remaining lifts. Aside from a lone 7.0 for choreography, the PCS ranged from 5.5 to 6.75.
Redeeming themselves after a double fall left them in eighth in the short dance, Americans Madison Hubbell & Keiffer Hubbell placed fifth in the free dance to pull up to sixth overall. The Hubbells were third in TES but were hit with the dreaded “FGC” (First-Group Components), penance for being third in the start order. Out of the 72 GOE, they earned only one -1. Both of their straightline lifts, the curve lift, and the twizzles were level 4, but they lost four points of base value with level 2s on their diagonal footwork and spin and level 3 on the rotational lift. Their highest scoring individual element was the level 3 circular step sequence with net +.14 GOE for 6.64. In comparison, Pechalat & Bourzat’s level 4 circular had a base value of 8.0.
Canadians Kharis Ralph & Asher Hill fell a spot from the short dance to finish in 7th overall with 119.51. Skating a clean program to “Summertime,” Ralph & Hill did not receive a single negative GOE. They lost points with level 2s on their stationary lift and diagonal steps and only a level 1 on their circular, however.
Like Ralph & Hill, China’s Xiaoyang Yu & Chen Wang dropped one spot, finishing 8th with a total of 114.46. Both step sequences were called level 2s, but the rest of their elements were 4s. The twizzles received the only net negative GOE. Their teammates, Xueting Guan & Meng Wang, were ninth in both the free dance and overall.
Americans Isabella Cannuscio & Ian Lorello had the unfortunate honor of skating first in both the short and the free dance. They received slight deductions for two elements: -.14 on their level 4 twizzles and -.07 on their level 4 rotational lift, but gave a strong senior GP debut performance to their interpretation of West Side Story.