Observer 2017-18

Ice Dance Observer: November 13, 2017


by Anne Calder 

The 2017 Grand Prix Series continued with its fourth event in Osaka, Japan, from November 10-12. Ten ice dance teams from nine ISU countries competed for prize money and points to qualify for the Grand Prix Final in Nagoya, Japan, December 7-10.

Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir (CAN) won a second 2017 GP gold medal; Madison Hubbell & Zachary Donohue (USA) added silver to their Skate Canada bronze; and Anna Cappellini & Luca Lanotte (ITA) took the bronze in their first Grand Prix event of the season. Penny Coomes & Nicholas Buckland (GBR) were a noteworthy last-minute replacement for Isabella Tobias & Ilya Tkachenko (ISR); they finished seventh.

Short Dance:

Virtue & Moir scored 80.92 points with a trio of Latin rhythms that included samba, rhumba, and cha cha. The dance to music by The Rolling Stones, The Eagles, and Santana earned four level 4 marks, which included an 11.90-point score for their precise opening not-touching footwork. Moir’s bobble on the final twizzle reduced their twizzle sequence to level 3. The program had five 10.00 component scores. 

Hubbell & Donohue earned level 4 for all the elements except the opening not-touching footwork that scored a level 3. Their samba-rhumba-samba dance was second and scored a season’s best of 76.31.

Cappellini & Lanotte were third with cha cha and samba Latin rhythms that showed off their flair for performance. The twizzles, partial step sequence, and rotational lift earned level 4; the side-by-side footwork and pattern were level 3. Their second-place component scores tightened the gap between them and the Americans to .44. The program scored a season’s best of 75.87.

In fourth place, Victoria Sinitsina & Nikita Katsalapov (RUS) scored 72.49, followed by Coomes & Buckland’s 65.64. Each earned a spot in the final free dance group.  

Free Dance:

Virtue & Moir successfully defended their 2016 NHK Trophy title, using “Tango de Roxanne” and “Come What May” from the Moulin Rouge film soundtrack. It was the Canadians’ 14th Grand Prix gold medal, including the Grand Prix Final victory that they earned last season.

The reigning world champions earned seven +3 GOEs and 18.90 total points for their three spectacular lifts. The judges rewarded all the rest of their elements with +2 and +3 marks, except for a single +1 in the circular step sequence.

The Canadians followed the movie storyline as they swept across the ice with a wide range of emotions from rage to love to sudden grief in their closing death scene. The program scored a season’s best of 117.72. Their 198.64 total was just under the record set last week by their French rivals and training partners, Gabriella Papadakis & Guillaume Cizeron.

Virtue & Moir qualified for the GP Final with their second Series gold medal. They will be back in Japan to compete in Nagoya in three weeks. In the meantime, they will continue to train in Montreal.

Hubbell & Donohue waited for nine free dances plus a five-minute warm-up before being called to perform. From the first instrumental beat of the sultry blues program to “Across the Sky” and “Caught Out in the Rain,” their passionate intensity was stoked by raw emotion.

They opened with in-sync twizzles, before gliding effortlessly into serpentine footwork that was highlighted with deep edges and scored 11.11 points. The Skate Canada bronze medalists received all but one +2 and +3 on the GOE grid. The program scored 112.04 points and their total was 188.35.

Hubbell & Donohue must wait for Skate America to learn if they qualified for the Final, but with high total scores and a silver and bronze medal, they have put themselves in a good place. They returned to Montreal to train with a positive attitude about the possibility of competing in Nagoya, Japan.

Cappellini & Lanotte captured the bronze medal with a dramatic and sensitive interpretation of the film La vita e bella (Life is Beautiful). The 2014 world champions earned level 4 for all their elements except the serpentine footwork, which received a level 3. The free dance scored a season’s best of 110.69. The total was 186.56.

The Italians often use their free dance to tell a story. In Osaka, they showed off their acting skills with facial expressions and detailed body movements that highlighted the dancers at their very best, telling a story about a storyteller.

The 2017 European silver medalists next compete in two weeks at Skate America. To qualify for the Final, they need to win or at least be second with a large score. Several teams, including Hubbell & Donohue, are already poised to create a potential tiebreak situation.

Sinitsina & Katsalapov remained in fourth place after a dramatic interpretation of a piano concerto by Rachmaninov that earned 104.66. Their total was 177.15. Both were season’s best scores.

Laurence Fournier Beaudry & Nikolaj Sorensen (DEN) moved up a notch to fifth place after their Spanish medley free dance. The 99.06 for the program and 164.40 total were season’s best scores. Fournier Beaudry’s dress was designed by two-time world champion and training mate, Guillaume Cizeron.

The next Grand Prix event will be the Internationaux de France, held November 17-19 in Grenoble.




November 14-18, 2017
Eastern Sectional Championships
Boxborough, MA

November 14-18, 2017
Midwestern Sectional Championships
Bloomington, MN

November 15-19, 2017
Pacific Coast Sectional Championships
Spokane, WA

November 16-19, 2017
Warsaw Cup
Warsaw, Poland

November 17-19, 2017
Internationaux de France
Grenoble, France



With the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating series passing the halfway point, it now heads to Grenoble for the 2017 Internationaux de France. Part of the series since it began in 1995, the ISU Grand Prix in France has changed its name four times. This is the first time that Grenoble has hosted the event. The roster includes 10 teams from 6 countries.

France’s Gabriella Papadakis & Guillaume Cizeron are competing in their second event of the series after winning Audi Cup of China by nearly 16 points. In Beijing, Papadakis & Cizeron posted the highest free dance score of the season and were the first team to break a total of 200 points. 

Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje are also competing in their second event of the series. The Canadians won a silver at Skate Canada, posting a total score of 190.01. After starting the season with a free dance choreographed to Spartacus, Weaver & Poje returned to their 2011-12 free dance to Lara Fabian’s “Je Suis Malade” just prior to Skate Canada. They likely need a podium finish to secure a spot in the Final, and a bronze would probably send them into a tiebreaker.

Alla Loboda & Pavel Drozd (RUS)

Madison Chock & Evan Bates of the United States took silver Beijing and will face the French again in Grenoble. The team did not compete in any fall international events prior to Cup of China and have had two weeks to make adjustments to their programs with the intent to improve their performances and score.

 They probably need at least a silver medal to qualify for the Grand Prix Final, since their total score from China is the lowest of the second-place scores so far. 

Russia’s Alexandra Stepanova & Ivan Bukin would need at least a silver to potentially qualify for the Grand Prix Final. Russia’s second team, Alla Loboda & Pavel Drozd, finished a respectable fifth in their Grand Prix debut earlier this season at Skate Canada.

Chock & Bates are joined in Grenoble by Team USA training mates, Elliana Pogrebinsky & Alex Benoit, who are competing in their second Grand Prix event this season. Pogrebinsky & Benoit finished seventh at Cup of China.

Poland’s Natalia Kaliszek & Maksym Spodyriev started their season at Finlandia Trophy, where they finished 10th, and then placed ninth at Skate Canada.

After starting their season with a gold medal at Lombardia Trophy, Charlene Guignard & Marco Fabbri of Italy were fifth at the first Grand Prix event of the series, Rostelecom Cup.

As host country, France can enter up to three teams in the event. Angelique Abachkina & Louis Thauron and Lorenza Alessandrini & Pierre Souquet will round out team France. With France’s second ice dance Olympic spot still up for grabs, this international face-off will be critical for the two teams.

The short dance takes place on Friday, November 17th at 10:55 AM (EST) and the free dance is on Saturday, November 18th at 9:30 AM (EST).



Sarah Arnold & Thomas Williams (CAN)

The ISU Challenger Series continues this week with Warsaw Cup. Held annually since 2010, the event has been part of the Challenger series since the series’s creation in 2014. Prior to 2014, Warsaw Cup did not include an ice dance event. As with any international event roster, changes may be made at the last minute, but there are currently 16 teams from 12 countries listed to compete. 

  • Medal contenders include Betina Popova & Sergey Mozgov of Russia, Sara Hurtado & Kirill Khaliavin of Spain, and Alexandra Nazarova & Maxim Nikitin of Ukraine.

  • Although Katharina Müller & Tim Dieck of Germany are competing in their fifth international event of the season, Warsaw Cup is only their second Challenger Series event of 2017 and counts for the German team’s Olympic qualification. Last weekend, they won the gold medal at Volvo Open Cup and they could claim another medal here.

  • Lorraine McNamara & Quinn Carpenter of the United States are competing in their third Challenger Series event after finishing fifth at Autumn Classic and eighth at Finlandia Trophy.

  • Canada’s Sarah Arnold & Thomas Williams and Molly Lanaghan & Dmitre Razgulajevs are making their Challenger Series debuts.

  • Australia’s Chantelle Kerry & Andrew Dodds will compete in just their second event since teaming up and will face their teammates, Kimberley Hew-Low & Timothy McKernan, for the first time.

The short dance will take place at 5:00 AM (EST) on Friday, November 17th.   The event concludes with the free dance on November 18th at 8 AM (EST). 



This week, ice dance teams from all over the United States will compete at their respective sectional events with the intent to qualify for the 2018 U.S.Championships.  IDC has created a hub to aid you in keeping track of this week’s sectional events. Visit our Sectionals Hub!

  • The 2018 Eastern Sectional Championships will take place from November 14-18, at Nashoba Valley Olympia in Boxborough, Massachusetts. The event is hosted by the Colonial Figure Skating Club.

  • The 2018 Midwestern Sectional Championships will take place from November 14-18, at Bloomington Ice Garden in Bloomington, Minnesota. The event is hosted by the Skating Club of Bloomington.

  • The 2018 Pacific Coast Sectional Championships will take place from November 15-19, at Eagles Ice Arena in Spokane, Washington.  The event is hosted by the Lilac City Figure Skating Club.




Until next time,

Team IDC