by Anne Calder | Photo by Robin Ritoss
The 2016 Grand Prix moved 1550 miles (2494 kilometers) southwest from Moscow to Paris for the fourth event November 11-13. Ten teams from eight countries competed for prize money and qualifying points toward the GP Final in Marseilles, France December 8-11.
Gabriella Papadakis & Guillaume Cizeron (FRA) took the lead, followed by Elena Ilinykh & Ruslan Zhiganshin (RUS). Madison Hubbell & Zachary Donohue (USA) were third. Only the French and USA teams executed all the pattern key points. They were rewarded with level 4.
Dancing the midnight blues to Club des Belugas’ “Bittersweet” and swing to Big Bad Voodoo Daddy’s “Diga Diga Doo” Papadakis & Cizeron scored a personal best 78.26. They made their international season debut in front of an enthusiastic home-ice audience. The program earned level 4 for the pattern, lift and twizzles; the step sequences were level 3. The GOEs were all +2 and +3. The component marks ranged from 9.25 – 9.75. The short dance score was the highest awarded in the four 2016 GP competitions held so far.
Ilinykh & Zhiganshin danced blues and swing to “Big, Bad Love” performed by Ray Charles & Diana Ross and “Sing, Sing, Sing” by Louis Prima. The opening curve lift and partial step sequence received level 3; the remaining elements were level 2. The program earned a season best 68.72 score – two points higher than their fourth place short dance finish at Skate America.
Hubbell & Donohue scored 66.77 for their “Feeling Good” by Nina Simone blues and hip-hop selections. The pattern and straight-line lift earned level 4; the not touching diagonal footwork was level 3; and the partial step sequence and twizzles received level 2. The 66.77 score was two points lower than their short dance at Skate America.
Piper Gilles & Paul Poirier (CAN) had a major twizzle mishap and scored 64.74; Isabella Tobias & Ilia Tkachenko (ISR) were just a shadow behind in fifth place with 63.70 points. Only five points separated second – fifth place.
Gabriella Papadakis & Guillaume Cizeron won their first GP gold medal since the 2014 Trophee Bompard, having missed the 2015 series due to injury. Madison Hubbell & Zachary Donohue, representing the USA, used a second place romantic free dance to take silver. The bronze went to Canadians Piper Gilles & Paul Poirier for their third place Argentine Tango. The gap between first and second place was almost 19 points.
Papadakis & Cizeron danced a contemporary artistic program of seamless movements that almost made the audience forget the required technical elements. The exquisite performance used the energy and softness of “Stillness”, “Oddudua” and “Happiness Does Not Wait” to meander through a scale of various emotions of life.
The level 4 lifts, twizzles, and combination spin and level 3 circular and diagonal footwork were all an integral part in creating a piece of art, which the reigning French Champions had set as their season objective. The component scores included three perfect 10’s and the rest above 9.25. The free dance segment was 115.24; the total was 193.50.
Hubbell & Donohue (USA) took the audience on a romantic journey with soft, gentle lifts, long, deep edges and seamless transitions that accentuated their strong and tender performance. The musical vehicle for the trip included “I Want to Dance with Somebody”, “Can’t Help Falling in Love” sung by Ingrid Michaelson and “Earned It.” The middle song is a Hubbell favorite and was the core in the creation of the program.
The lifts, twizzles and spin earned level 4; the circular and diagonal footwork received level 3. The Skate America silver medalists scored a season best 107.81 for the free dance. The total score was 174.58.
Gilles & Poirier (CAN) danced a classic Argentine Tango to “Con Buena Onda” for a third place free dance finish and the bronze medal. Their performance showed off the romantic togetherness of the dance with less neck snapping and more closeness of the embrace than a ballroom Tango. The spin, lifts, and twizzles received level 4; the circular and diagonal step sequence were level 3 and level 2. The segment score was 106.04 with a total 170.78.
Ilinykh and Zhiganshin (RUS) danced a Bollywood routine to the Slumdog Millionaire soundtrack and earned a season best 98.68. Unfortunately, they had several deductions including Zhiganshin’s loss of balance on the twizzle, a tumble by Ilinykh, and an extended curve lift. Their total 167.40 was also a season best. They placed fourth.
Isabella Tobias & Ilia Tkachenko (ISR) danced the Pas de Deux from Nutcracker and scored 95.16 points. The simplicity of the waltz and the exciting lifts showed off her balletic talents. The total score was 158.86 and earned fifth place.