Hello and welcome to the Ice Dance Observer. If this is your first visit, the Observer recaps events from the previous week as well as previewing upcoming competitions. It is posted on Tuesday of each week.   

We’re back after a brief hiatus while most of Team IDC was in San Jose, California, for the 2018 U.S. Championships. 

The next few weeks will be busy with the European Championships, Four Continents Championships, Russian Junior Nationals and Bavarian Open – lots of skating.  It’s hard to believe that we are just 33 days away from the short dance at the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang! 

This weekend, we launched the new support ice-dance.com through Patreon and Paypal sidebar links on a few of our pages. As you know, IDC has been the leading resource for ice dance information and news online since June 1999 When I started the website with Emma back in 1999, I had no idea that it would grow to be what it is today. Between 1999 and January 2018, we have covered 375+ events, which is not a small feat when you are staffed 100% by volunteer journalists and photographers. We are hoping to improve our website hosting, which will allow IDC to continue to grow. When we meet our first goal, we will then set a second goal to make additional improvements to the website as well as continue to provide the best coverage of events possible.  

There are now two ways that you can financially help ice-dance.com:

Whether you are able to pledge or not, we appreciate your continued support and value you all as part of our ice-dance.com community.  

Until next time,

Daphne & Team IDC

 

CANADIANS RECAP: VIRTUE, MOIR WIN EIGHTH NATIONAL TITLE

by Anne Calder | Photos by Melanie Heaney

The 2018 Canadian National Skating Championships were held at the Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre, Vancouver, British Columbia from January 8-14, 2018. Ten senior ice dance teams competed on the final weekend.

The podium included Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir (gold), Piper Gilles & Paul Poirier (silver), and Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje (bronze).

Short Dance

Virtue & Moir danced samba to the Rolling Stones, rhumba to the Eagles, and cha cha to Santana and earned 85.12 points. Their TES was a perfect 45.30, with all level 4 elements and all +3 GOEs.

Gilles & Poirier scored 78.37 points with their bossa nova and mambo. Poirier’s magical sleight of hand trick produced colorful ruffled sleeves that marked the start of the pattern dance. The team earned level 4 for all the elements except a level 3 Rhumba.

Carolane Soucisse & Shane Firus were third with an Enrique Iglesias medley for their samba, rhumba, and samba short dance that scored 70.90 points. The team earned level 4 for their pattern, twizzles, lift and not touching footwork; the pattern step sequence was level 3.

Weaver & Poje lost points when Poje had an unfortunate fall on the first twizzle that negated the element. The Rhumba pattern, curve lift and pattern step sequence were level 4, while the not touching footwork was level 3. The Cuban street dance program used the bolero and mambo for its rhythms. They were in fourth place – a very unfamiliar position for the reigning Canadian silver medalists.

Free Dance – A PERFECT SCORE!

The Vancouver audience didn’t care that the ISU does not recognize national championship season and personal best marks. They didn’t care that the score attained by Virtue & Moir will not be included in their international resume.

Instead, they came to pay homage to their champions who teamed up 21 years ago and were skating at the Canadian Nationals for the last time. The enthusiastic crowd was rewarded with a skate for the ages. It was a moment the dancers and fans will remember for many years. Virtue & Moir were crowned champions for the eighth and final time.

The 2010 Olympic gold medalists performed to “El Tango de Roxanne” and “Come What May” from the Moulin Rouge soundtrack. After the mandatory lowest/highest scores were eliminated, all that remained were seven +3 GOE and seven 10.00 PCS, which converted to a perfect 124.70.

Times They’re All A Changing

Virtue & Moir ended their two-year retirement for one reason – to win gold at the 2018 Olympics. So after placing second at the Grand Prix Final – their first loss since the return – they went back home to Montreal and tweaked their program. The 2014 Olympic silver medalists edited the music and changed the lifts. They wanted it to build more, make a more dramatic ending, and give it an Olympic gold medal feeling!

After a fourth place finish at Skate America, Gilles & Poirier also made changes. Seven weeks ago, they took a huge risk, and switched their Perry Mason themed program to James Bond. Using much of the old choreography, they added stronger and more dramatic music that better accented their speed and innovative movements.

The team’s lifts, spin, and diagonal footwork earned level 4; the circular footwork was level 3. Unfortunately, a bobble in the second twizzle reduced it to level 2 and lost them several points.

However, their gamble had paid off! The new James Bond defeated the old Perry Mason (from Skate America) by over 11 points with a 113.71 third place segment score. Their eight-point short dance lead was enough to secure second place over all and their fourth Canadian National silver medal. The total was 192.08.

Weaver & Poje began the season with Spartacus. After the Autumn Classic they dropped the program and returned to their 2012 signature piece, “Je Suis Malade”. The costumes needed an upgrade, footwork rules were different, and the skaters were six years older and more mature. The choreography needed a facelift. When they performed Saturday afternoon in Vancouver, the new program had only been skated at two competitions, most recently two months ago. 

As Weaver & Poje skated to center ice, they knew what was on the line, so they did what was necessary. The standing ovation began before the music stopped and the final position taken. Six of their seven elements earned level 4 and the choreographic lift and spin received full 2.10 scores. The judges gave them ten perfect 10.00 PCS. They were second in the free dance, but their total 191.09 was less than one point short for the silver. They were awarded the bronze medal.

International Assignments Announcement

Canada announced it’s Olympic and World Championships ice dance teams on Sunday.  Piper Gilles & Paul Poirier, Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir and Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje will represent Canada in PyeongChang and Torino.  Alternates (in order) are Carolane Soucisse & Shane Firus, Sarah Arnold & Thomas Williams and Haley Sales & Nikolas Wamsteeker. 

Soucisse & Firus, Arnold & Williams and Sales & Wamsteeker will represent Canada at the upcoming Four Continents Championships in Taipei City, Chinese Taipei from January 22-27. 

JUNIOR EVENT: LAJOIE & LAGHA CAPTURE SECOND JUNIOR TITLE

by Daphne Backman | Photos by Melanie Heaney

In the junior dance event, Marjorie Lajoie & Zachary Lagha won their second consecutive junior title and scored nearly 17 points higher than silver medalists, Olivia McIsaac & Elliott Graham.  Ashlynne Stairs & Lee Royer claimed bronze.

Short Dance

In the short dance, Lajoie & Lagha scored 65.02 and skated a commanding and energetic performance to “Bla Bla Bla Cha Cha Cha” by Petty Booka and “Tu Picadura” by Gary Tesca.  They received level 4 on both sections of their Cha Cha Congelado as well as their stationary lift and twizzles.  Their midline not touching step sequence received level 3.  Lajoie & Lagha train in Montreal and are coached by Marie-France Dubreuil, Patrice Lauzon, Romain Haguenauer and Pascal Denis.

Skating first in the final group, Olivia McIsaac & Elliott Graham finished second with their short dance to “Quizas Quizas Quizas” by Pink Martini and “Angelina” by Lou Bega. McIsaac & Graham are a new team this season and their program showcased matching lines and good speed.  The team’s twizzles, rotational lift and first Cha Cha section were graded level 4, while their midline steps and second Cha Cha section received level three. Their short dance score was 57.91. David Islam, Kelly Johnson and James Callan coach the team.

Irina Galiyanova & Tommy Tang, who train in Scarborough, Ontario, with Carol Lane, Jon Lane and Juris Razgulajevs, finished third after a solid short dance performance to “Dance with Me” by Debelah Morgan and “La vida loca” by Francisco Cespedes. Scoring 55.13, the team received level 4 grades for their first Cha Cha section and their rotational lift. Their twizzles were marked level 3, while their second Cha Cha section and midline steps received level 2.

Free Dance

Lajoie & Lagha extended their lead with a free dance performance to “Dream” by Imagine Dragons and “Nemesis” by Benjamin Clementine that scored 89.38.  They received level 4 on all of their elements except the circular step sequence that was graded level 3.

Though fourth in the free dance, Olivia McIsaac & Elliott Graham finished second overall.  Their program to “Let It Be Me” by Ray LaMontagne and “What I Wouldn’t Do” by Serena Ryder, was entertaining and showed off the teams seamless lifts and unison. Their lifts, twizzle and spins all received level 4 and they scored 79.65.

Ashlynne Stairs & Lee Royer, the 2017 silver medalists, finished second in the free dance and were able to pull up to bronze medal position after an unfortunate fall in the short dance left them in eighth place. Skating to music from A Monster in Paris, the team was awarded level 4 on all of their elements, except for their serpentine steps that was marked level 3.  The program showcased the team’s smooth skating and unison, while featuring lovely highlight movements and scored 81.77.

The Quebec team of Ellie Fisher & Simon-Pierre Malette-Paquette (134.19) pulled up from seventh to fourth with a third place free dance to “La Strada” by Nino Rota and Ennio Morricone which featured good unison and light skating.  

Irina Galiyanova & Tommy Tang (132.01) finished  fifth in the free dance to drop to fifth overall.  Skating to “Time in a Bottle” by Jim Croce, the performance showcased good speed, unison and ice coverage as well as a neat choreographic lift at the end of the program.  

International Assignment Announcement

Skate Canada has selected Lajoie & Lagha and McIsaac & Graham to represent Canada at the 2018 World Junior Championships that will take place from March 5-11 in Sofia, Bulgaria. Alternates are Ashlynne Stairs & Lee Royer (first) and Ellie Fisher & Simon-Pierre Malette-Paquette (second).

Short Dance: Marjorie Lajoie & Zachary Lagha

Free Dance: Ashlynne Stairs & Lee Royer

NOVICE EVENT: BASHYNSKA & BEAUMONT WIN NOVICE GOLD

by Daphne Backman | Photos by Melanie Heaney

Leading after the pattern dances, Nadiia Bashynska & Peter Beaumont finished first in the free dance and claimed the gold medal.  Skating to selections from Mic Macs à Tire-Larigot by Raphaël Beau, the team received level four on their stationary lift and spin, while their curve lift and both step sequences were scored level 3. A mistake on the twizzles saw the team lose points, but they finished with the highest total score of 96.82.  Bashynska & Beaumont train in Scarborough, Ontario, with Carol Lane, Jon Lane and Juris Razgulajevs.

Finishing second were Miku Makita & Tyler Gunara, the 2017 Canadian pre-novice champions.  Makita & Gunara’s performance to a piano cover of “Blank Space” and “Love Story Meets Love Story (Taylor Swift Remix)” performed by Jon Schmidt received level 4 grades on their spin, lifts and twizzles. A fall on the circular steps saw the team lose levels and GOEs and marred what was otherwise a solid performance. The team is coached by Megan Wing and Aaron Lowe.

Amelia Boone & Malcolm Kowan moved up from fourth to take the bronze medal.  Boone & Kowan teamed up in fall 2017 and are coached by Kim Slopak-Weeks and Tyler Myles.  Skating to “La Marilyn” and “Pantera Tanguera” by Cuarteto Almagro, they received level 4 on their lifts, twizzles and spin.  

 

Free Dance:  Nadiia Bashynska & Peter Beaumont

PREVIEW:  2018 EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS

Papadakis & Cizeron Photo by Robin Ritoss

This week, teams from Europe will head to Moscow, Russia for the 2018 European Championships.  Moscow last hosted this event in 1965, and the gold medal was awarded to the sibling duo of Eva Romanova and Pavel Roman from Czechoslovakia.  There are a total of 31 teams from 23 countries on the roster. For some teams, the European Championships are the final tune-up for the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang. 

The medal hunt: France’s Gabriella Papadakis & Guillaume Cizeron, the 2015 and 2016 World Champions, are the favorites for gold in Moscow. The French have won every event they’ve entered this season, including a showdown at the Grand Prix Final where they faced Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir of Canada, the 2017 World Champions. Papadakis & Cizeron have owned this event for the past three years. 

For the past two years, the podium has remained the same.  Anna Cappellini & Luca Lanotte of Italy won this event in 2014 and have claimed the silver medal in each of the past three years, while Russia’s Ekaterina Bobrova & Dmitry Soloviev collected gold in 2013 and have settled for bronze the past two years.  Bobrova & Soloviev’s free dance performance at the Russian Championships in December was special and brought their coach to tears. Though not confirmed, it is believed that this may be the last season for both teams.

Also from Russia, Alexandra Stepanova & Ivan Bukin won the bronze at this event in 2015, and their performances this season have resulted in medals at both Grand Prix events as well as a silver medal at Finlandia Trophy. Should others falter, Stepanova & Bukin are poised to move up.

Charlene Guignard & Marco Fabbri have a pair of silver medals from ISU Challenger Series events and finished fifth at both Grand Prix competitions this season.  

Since Great Britain’s Penny Coomes & Nicholas Buckland missed all of last season due to injury, Moscow is the first ISU Championship event for the team since the 2016 World Championships.  The team started their season with a win at Nebelhorn Trophy, which secured Great Britain’s only figure skating berth at the PyeongChang Olympics.

Laurence Fournier Beaudry & Nikolaj Sorensen earned an Olympic spot for Denmark after finishing 13th at the 2017 World Championships, but Fournier Beaudry does not have Danish citizenship.  The slot was returned to the Olympic pool, making an additional spot available at Nebelhorn Trophy, the final Olympic qualifying event. Despite this disappointment, the team has continued this season and has two of the most interesting programs.  

Olympic decision: Although Papadakis & Cizeron are a lock for the Olympics, France’s second spot will be determined by the results at Europeans.  Angelique Abachkina & Louis Thauron and Marie-Jade Lauriault & Romain Le Gac have faced off several times this season with the results favoring Lauriault & Le Gac. However, the results have always been close. Both Abachkina and Lauriault have received their French passports.

The short dance takes place on Friday, January 18, at 12:10 PM (local time). The free dance will be contested on Saturday at 1:40 PM (local time).  The Olympic Channel and NBCSN will be televising the event.