CUP OF CHINA RECAP: THE PODIUM VIEW FROM THE GREAT WALL

by Anne Calder 

The third Grand Prix event was held in Beijing, China, November 3-5. For the second week in a row, ice dance world records were broken. At Skate Canada, Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir (CAN) posted the highest-ever short dance and total scores. At Cup of China, Gabriella Papadakis & Guillaume Cizeron (FRA) broke their own record (from the 2017 World Championships) for the highest free dance score, and as the first time to ever crack 200 total points, the total score world record shifted to their hands. Because the base value has increased this year, the world records are also expected to continue to increase throughout the season.

Ten ice dance teams from four ISU countries competed for prize money and points to qualify for the Grand Prix Final in Nagoya, Japan, December 7-10. Three teams made their senior Grand Prix debuts.

The podium consisted of: Papadakis & Cizeron, gold; Madison Chock & Evan Bates (USA), silver; and Ekaterina Bobrova & Dmitri Soloviev (RUS), bronze.

Short Dance: Papadakis & Cizeron were rewarded for their deep edges, sharp curves, and in-sync twizzles with four of five elements called level 4, coupled with high Grades of Execution. The two-time world champions used samba and rhumba rhythms with a British flair, since the program was set to Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You” and “Thinking Out Loud” and choreographed by Christopher Dean. They scored a personal best of 81.10.

Chock & Bates used a Marc Anthony medley in their Olympic season debut and scored 72.66, nine points behind the French. Their twizzles and curve lift earned level 4, the rhumba pattern and partial step sequence were level 3, and the side-by-side footwork was only level 2.

The 2017 Four Continents silver medalists will need to address the disparity in their technical levels before their next Grand Prix, the Internationaux de France, where they will square off against a strong roster including Papadakis & Cizeron.

Bobrova & Soloviev had the same base value (levels) as the Americans, but lost ground with their lower GOEs and component score. The program used rhumba and samba rhythms to earn a 72.34, which was four points less than the personal best they had scored at Rostelecom Cup.

Tiffani Zagorski & Jonathan Guerrero (RUS) were fourth with 67.62, followed by Lorraine McNamara & Quinn Carpenter (USA) in fifth with 63.65. Angelique Abachkina & Louis Thauron (FRA) scored 59.91 for sixth place.

Free Dance: Papadakis & Cizeron won the technical battle with all level 4s, except for a level 3 on their circular steps, their first footwork sequence, giving them a 1.5-point advantage over the rest of the field. Chock & Bates, Bobrova & Soloviev, and McNamara & Carpenter all had the same base value of 41.90, which included level 4 twizzles, lifts, and spin, and level 3 on both step sequences. The judges’ GOEs and PCS made the difference in the segment scores.

Papadakis, Cizeron

Gabriella Papadakis & Guillaume Cizeron (FRA)

Papadakis & Cizeron were mesmerizing as they floated across the ice like a gentle breeze, interrupted only by their choreographed elements. Their “Moonlight Sonata” program opened with prolonged haunting chords that accented their early moves, then accelerated into a fast-twirling spin, only to be slowly tempered by a spectacular stationary lift that said “C’est fini!” (It is finished.)

The judges gave them all +2 and +3 GOE marks and fourteen 10.00 component scores. The three-time European Champions outscored their previous personal best earned at the 2017 World Championships with a record score of 119.33. The 200.43-point total eclipsed the 199.86-point record set by Virtue & Moir at Skate Canada.

Chock & Bates skated their much-anticipated “Imagine” program onto the podium and a silver medal.

They chose the song because they felt the words were relevant in today’s society. The original musical arrangement added another voice to John Lennon’s, which allowed the dancers to interpret the lyrics spoken between the two singers.

The team debuted at the Grand Prix instead of earlier on the Challenger Series, as they had done in previous years. They wanted less stress for the Olympic year, so they stayed home to train their new free dance, since they got a little bit of a late start after scrapping an earlier program.

The spectacular level 4 lifts earned +2 and +3 GOE marks, while both the intricate level 3 step sequences were rewarded with over 18 total GOE points. The performance scored 111.84; the total was 184.50. Both were below their personal best scores earned back in 2016.

Bobrova & Soloviev skated a dramatic performance to “Oblivion” by Astor Piazzolla and “Beethoven’s Five Secrets” by The Piano Guys in which Bobrova portrays a blind girl searching for love that turns out to be a dream. The Russian national champions created the storyline to help the audience better understand the dance movements.

Just as in the short dance, the program had the same base values as the Americans, but again, their GOE marks and PCS were lower. The slim margin cost them a step on the podium, winning bronze instead of silver. Their second- and third-place Grand Prix finishes may or may not get them into the Grand Prix Final. They will have to wait and see what the other teams do in the next three events. The program scored 110.50; the total was 182.84.

Zagorski & Guerreiro danced to fourth place in lyrical interpretation of selections by Muse, the popular “Exogenesis Symphony Parts III and II,” as well as  “Ruled by Secrecy.” The free dance scored 96.79. The lifts and twizzles earned level 4; both step sequences and the unfortunately bobbled spin were level 3. The total was 164.41.

McNamara & Carpenter, the 2016 world junior champions, made their senior Grand Prix free dance debut with a fifth-place performance to “Animo Contro Vendo” by Medialuna Tango Project that scored 93.96. Their total of 157.61 was about three points higher than their Autumn Classic appearance in September. They were fifth overall.

Shiyue Wang & Xinyu Liu (CHN) placed sixth in the free dance, skating to Mika’s “Over My Shoulder” and “Happy Endings” in front of an enthusiastic and supportive home-country audience. The winners of the 2017 Asian Games scored 92.10, which vaulted them into a sixth-place finish with 151.17 total points.

The NHK Trophy is the next Grand Prix event. It will be held in Osaka, Japan, November 10-12.

NEW ON IDC

EVENTS THIS WEEK

November 8-12, 2017
Volvo Open Cup
Riga, Latvia
Results Page

November 8-12, 2017
43rd Leo Scheu Memorial
(Held in conjunction with Ice Challenge)
Graz, Austria
Results Page

November 9-12, 2017
Ice Challenge
Graz, Austria
Results Page

November 10-12, 2017
NHK Trophy
Osaka, Japan
Results Page (not available until November 9)

PREVIEW: NHK TROPHY

by Melanie Heaney

The Grand Prix Series has reached its halfway point, and the fourth event is scheduled for this weekend in Osaka, Japan. NHK Trophy has been part of the Grand Prix series since its beginning, and Osaka lasted hosted the event in 2014.

While singles skating is as popular as ever, Japan still struggles to build depth in its ice dance program. As a result, only two teams represent the host country. The rest of the teams on the roster all represent different countries, so this is a unique event in that the field of ten teams includes flags from nine countries.

Headlining the roster and looking for Grand Prix Final qualification are Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir of Canada. The reigning world champions won Skate Canada International two weeks ago with a world record score of 199.86. Their training partners and primary rivals, Papadakis & Cizeron, broke the record and the 200-point barrier last weekend at Cup of China, so Virtue & Moir will certainly be hoping to keep pace with them and top 200 points this time around. They did have a few small footwork bobbles at Skate Canada, so getting that world record back is definitely possible if they are squeaky-clean.

Hubbell and Donohue

Madison Hubbell & Zachary Donohue (USA)

After just missing the silver medal at Skate Canada, Americans Madison Hubbell & Zachary Donohue will be looking for silver this week. A silver medal and another great score—they earned a new personal best of 189.43 in Canada—would set them up well for the Grand Prix Final. Hubbell & Donohue performed exceptionally well and looked strong two weeks ago; the key for them is just to maintain consistency and keep building toward January, when the U.S. Championships have the potential to be one of the closest dance competitions of the season.

Virtue & Moir and Hubbell & Donohue will be joined by training mates Laurence Fournier-Beaudry & Nikolaj Sorensen of Denmark and Marie-Jade Lauriault & Romain Le Gac of France. Despite a 13th-place finish at the 2017 World Championships, this is the only Grand Prix event of the year for the Danes. Lauriault & Le Gac were 8th at Rostelecom Cup to kick off the series.

Italians Anna Cappellini & Luca Lanotte should be in the medal hunt, as usual, and might be the Americans’ stiffest competition for silver. They withdrew from a couple of early season senior internationals while Cappellini recovered from a minor hand injury, and they were finally in action two weeks ago. They easily won Minsk-Arena Ice Star, scoring 183.49 points. With some time to take in some feedback, they should be able to push their score even higher if they skate well.

Two other teams from the roster at Minsk-Arena Ice Star will also follow Cappellini & Lanotte to Osaka. Russia’s Victoria Sinitsina & Nikita Katsalapov had a disastrous fall in the short and ultimately finished third in Minsk, scoring only 165.30 points. They need to make a much stronger statement if they want to keep their names in circulation for Russia’s Olympic team.

Alexandra Nazarova & Maxim Nikitin of Ukraine were fourth in Minsk with 156.21 points, a new ISU personal best. Nazarova & Nikitin have already competed quite a few times this season, and this is their only Grand Prix event of the season.

Representing Israel, Isabella Tobias & Ilia Tkachenko are making a rather late international competitive debut this season. They were 12th at the last two World Championships, ranking just ahead of Fournier-Beaudry & Sorensen, who have had several competitive outings already this season. It should be an interesting matchup between the two teams.

Kana Muramoto & Chris Reed lead the Japanese team. Their season has already been quite exciting, as they qualified an ice dance spot for Japan at Nebelhorn Trophy last month with a personal best score of 159.30. With that as motivation to prepare very early, they have a shot at their best-ever Grand Prix finish as a team; they have picked up seventh- and eighth-place finishes at past events.

Misato Komatsubara & Timothy Koleto will also represent Japan here in their second season together. Komatsubara previously skated on the junior level for Japan, but she most recently competed with Andrea Fabbri for Italy and sat out of international competition for about a year and a half. She made her international debut with Koleto last month at Lombardia Trophy. Koleto previously competed for South Korea and Norway with different partners. This is the Grand Prix debut for both partners.

 

PREVIEW: VOLVO OPEN CUP

The 34th Volvo Open Cup will take place this week in Riga, Latvia. The roster includes 13 teams from 12 countries. 

Czech Republic’s Cortney Mansour & Michal Ceska are competing for the first time since their fifth-place finish at Nebelhorn qualified an Olympic slot for their country. They will likely battle Katharina Müller & Tim Dieck of Germany for the top spot on the podium. Müller & Dieck started their season at the end of July, and Volvo Open Cup is their fourth international event of the season.

Hungary’s Anna Yanovskaya & Adam Lukacs teamed up in 2016 and debuted at the 2017 Bavarian Open, where they finished 12th. This season, the team placed 12th at Nebelhorn Trophy and seventh at Minsk-Arena Ice Star.  

Volvo Open Cup also marks the senior debuts of several teams who competed on the JGP series, including Guoste Damuleviciute & Deividas Kizala of Lithuania and Daria Popova & Volodymyr Byelikov of Ukraine.

The Volvo Open Cup also includes ice dance events contested at the basic novice, advanced novice, and junior levels.

 

PREVIEW:  ICE CHALLENGE 

Teams will head to Graz, Austria, this week for Ice Challenge. Held annually since 1971, the event was originally called the Leo Scheu Memorial until 2008, when it was renamed Ice Challenge. It was not held in 2016, but it was included as part of the ISU Challenger Series in 2014 and 2015. Since 2009, teams from the United States have won five of the seven contests, but this year’s roster includes only four teams from three countries.

Lilah Fear & Lewis Gibson of Great Britain and Finland’s Cecilia Törn & Jussiville Partanen are likely to battle for the top spot. Lewis & Gibson have competed three times this season, finishing ninth at both Lombardia Trophy and Finlandia Trophy and sixth at the International Cup of Nice. Ice Challenge marks the sixth outing in this busy season for Törn & Partanen. The teams have already met twice this season, with each team besting the other once.

Finland is also represented by Juulia Turkkila & Matthias Versluis. The former singles skaters teamed up in 2016, and Ice Challenge is their fourth competition this season. Rounding out the roster are Jennifer Urban & Benjamin Steffan of Germany, who are also in their second season as a team.

The 43rd Leo Scheu Memorial will be held in conjunction with Ice Challenge and includes dance events at the advanced novice and junior levels.

Until next time,

Team IDC