by Anne Calder | Photos by Danielle Earl (Skate Canada)

2021 Skate Canada International, the second event in the ISU Grand Prix Series, was held in Vancouver, British Columbia from October 29-31. Ten ice dance teams from six countries competed.

Virtual Mixed Zones and Press Conferences were the journalists source of the music, quotes, scores and placements that follow:

Piper Gilles & Paul Poirier (CAN) earned a personal best 85.65 Rhythm Dance score for “I Guess That’s Why They Call it the Blues” and “I’m Still Standing” by Elton John. The two-time Skate Canada gold medalists revealed that their Free Dance to Paul McCartney’s “Long and Winding Road” is about every little piece of their skating journey.

“Every step, every competition, every program has led us to where we are right now. We really want to finish this season at the Olympic Games celebrating what we’ve done and accomplished
throughout our entire career.”

Italy’s Guignard and Fabbri skate their rhythm dance at 2021 Skate Canada International.

Charlene Guignard & Marco Fabbri (ITA) scored a total 200.05 points for their Rhythm Dance to several Michael Jackson songs and the Free Dance to Atonement and “Little Sparrow”. Fabbri
explained why they kept last year’s free dance music, but changed the dress worn by Guignard.

“Since we danced it at only one major event and really enjoyed performing to the music, we didn’t want to abandon it for the Olympic season. We didn’t want to do something we liked less. We changed the dress because we wanted to give a more elegant look to the program from last year.”

Olivia Smart & Adrian Diaz (ESP) won their first Grand Prix medal with two Personal Best Scores – 76.97 points for the Rhythm Dance to Tina Turner’s “Proud Mary” and the 192.93 total
score. Their Free Dance music included several selections from The Mask of Zorro soundtrack. Smart spoke about the challenges of the current season.

“To be here with a bronze medal shows the work we’ve put into our two programs. We knew we were going into an Olympic season with only one spot for Spain. We needed the right vehicle to get to the Games and World Championships. We think we’re on the right track.”

Caroline Green & Michael Parsons (USA) used music by Janet Jackson (Rhythm Dance) and Ezio Bosso (Free Dance) to score 186.51 points. Parsons spoke about their freedom to push ice dance boundaries as they’ve gotten more comfortable with each other and progressed as a team.

“At the beginning of this Olympic year, we decided to do something that really showed off a different direction of the sport. It’s been a journey with our coaches from the very beginning.
Elena [Novak] picked the music and gave us guidance with the choreography, but also let us put ourselves into the program. I’d say it’s a collaborated effort.”

Diana Davis & Gleb Smolkin (RUS) earned a trifecta of Personal Best scores: 70.66 (Rhythm Dance), 109.91 (Free Dance) and 180.57 (Total). The team tangoed from seventh into fifth place with songs from the Moulin Rouge soundtrack. They train in Novi, Michigan with Igor Shpilband.

Marjorie Lajoie & Zachary Lagha (CAN) scored 179.07 total points. They didn’t get the scores they wanted for the free dance, but were thrilled with the cheering crowd and standing ovation at
the end. Lagha explained the reasoning behind keeping their Rio program from last season.

“We didn’t compete with it a lot last year, so going into the Olympic year it was good strategy that of the two programs, we keep this one because it’s a very good vehicle for us. We chose the movie music to express its fun and dynamic and our energy.

Lilah Fear & Lewis Gibson (GBR) chose Disco music by Kiss for the Rhythm Dance and songs from the Lion King film for the Free Dance. The team had some costly errors that dropped them
from fifth to seventh place with 178.08 points. Lion King was chosen for the Olympic season because of the world-wide connection to the music. Fear spoke about the message it generates.

“The theme is of finding your inner strength and empowerment and the universal power of love. So many people connect to the story; it transcends so much that it’s a message we want to share.”

“It’s so much fun to play these characters and explore the animal side of movement. It’s something we’ve never done, and that’s extremely fun, but also extremely challenging as well.”

Christina Carreira & Anthony Ponomarenko (USA) scored 168.76 total points for performances to “Batdance” by recording artist Prince (Rhythm Dance) and Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game” sung by Daisy Gray and Yola Recoba (Free Dance). The team currently trains with Scott Moir in London, Ontario Canada. Ponomarenko spoke about their progress this season.

“This is our third competition. We’ve made lots of improvement from the first two. Now we’re looking to improve more and fix the little technical mistakes we made.”

Elizaveta Shanaeva & Devid Naryzhnyy (RUS) danced hip-hop and disco to “Hey Momma” and “Hit the Road Jack” in their Rhythm Dance and Amaluna from Cirque du Soleil for the Free Dance. The team scored a total 160.66 in their Senior Grand Prix debut. Shanaeva & Naryzhnyy are the reigning World Junior and JGP Final bronze medalists.

Haley Sales & Nikolas Wamsteeker (CAN) scored 156.56 total points for their Billie Eilish Rhythm Dance and “Scared to be Lonely” Free Dance. The team recently relocated from Vancouver, British Columbia to train with Scott Moir at the Ice Academy of Montreal’s (I.AM) London, Ontario campus.

The third Grand Prix Series event, Gran Premio d’Italia will be held November 5-7 in Torino, Italy.