10COC-SD-0176-PB-KYToday in Beijing, the short dance kicked off the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating series at the Cup of China. It was not ice dancing’s finest hour (and a half), but the skaters did their best to keep things interesting.

Nathalie Pechalat & Fabian Bourzat of France debuted their new short dance to Dr. Zhivago, a program they put together a couple of weeks ago. They competed three times this autumn prior to Cup of China and took the feedback from those events in preparation for the Grand Prix. Gone is their Amelie short dance. Now “Lara’s Theme” led the French to an almost seven-point lead going into tomorrow’s free dance.

Pechalat & Bourzat earned level 4s for everything except the second portion of the Golden Waltz (that they actually skate before the first portion of the pattern), which earned a level 2. It was a clean, if not thrilling program. Of the 45 individual GoE given out, they received only one -1. The other 44 marks were predominantly +1s with some +2 and 0s. Program Component Scores ranged from 7.25 to 8.50.

In second place after their season debut, Italians Federica Faiella & Massimo Scali kicked off their 17th Grand Prix competition with a score of 57.21. Less than half a point behind Pechalat & Bourzat in PCS (30.93 vs. 31.41), Faiella & Scali took a beating in their TES.

They opened with level 4 twizzles with a net +.21 GOE and +.71 on their level 4 first section of the Golden Waltz. The second section was only called level 1 after Scali’s blade got stuck in Faiella’s long white skirt. Fortunately, unlike the Shibutanis at NHK Trophy, nobody fell, but it took time for Scali to get unhooked while hopping around. The judges docked -1 to -3 for a net deduction of -1.07. They got back on track for their level 4 straightline lift that was awarded +1 to +3. Their level 2 midline sequence racked up +1.29 in GOE. Faiella & Scali’s base TES value was only 24.5 compared to Pechalat & Bourzat’s 30.0.

Russians Ekaterina Bobrova & Dmitri Soloviev stand in third with 55.85. Their rotational lift was called only a level 2, while the other elements were given level 3. The opening twizzles were messy, yet one judge deemed it worthy of a +1 GOE while the majority gave -1s and -2s. Program Component scores were all over the place, with a range of 5.0 to 8.0.

Nora Hoffman & Max Zavozin of Hungary were the only team in the first group to pull up into the top five. Their level 2 twizzles lost .43. The first section of the Golden Waltz and their midline were also level 2s, but their second section of the Golden Waltz (skated first) and rotational lift earned level 4s. The judges were quite consistent with their PCS, as Hoffman & Zavozin earned 6.68s for Performance/Execution, Composition/Choreography, and Interpretation/Timing. Close behind were Skating Skills at 6.61. The 6.32 for Transitions was their lowest of the scores.

Canadians Kharis Ralph & Asher Hill made their senior Grand Prix debut to “Cinderella” and earned 48.10. They received only one -1 out of the 45 GOE, splitting the rest between +1 and 0.

China’s three teams, Xintong Huang & Xun Zheng, Xiaoyang Yu & Chen Wang, and Xueting Guan & Meng Wang sit in fifth, seventh, and ninth, respectively.

It was not the best night for the Americans. Isabella Cannuscio & Ian Lorello skated first and received a surprisingly low 38.34 for what looked to be a good program, stronger than its debut in Lake Placid in August. Their rotational lift and twizzles were both called level four; the remaining elements only a level 1. PCS were all over the board, from a low of 3.5 to a high of 6.5.

Madison & Keiffer Hubbell of the U.S. opened their “Addams Family” short dance with a level 4 rotational lift that earned +.5 GOE. They received an additional +.43 from their Golden Waltz for levels 2 and 4. Disaster struck in the midline sequence when Keiffer lost his edge and went down. Madison then fell over her brother. It took them a while to get back up and into the program, costing them another point deduction for “interruption in excess” on top of the -2 for both of them falling. The next element, the twizzles, came too soon, and these were botched as well, although the Hubbells managed to earn a level three. Their total, 44.47, left them in eighth.

The free dance takes place on Saturday.