15CocRecap4939by Anne Calder | Photo by Robin Ritoss

The Capital Gymnasium in Beijing, China was the scene of the third event in the Grand Prix Series November 6 – 8. The ice rink will also be used for competition during the 2022 Winter Olympic Games. Eight teams from five countries were scheduled to compete in ice dance.

Short Dance – November 6, 2015

Anna Cappellini & Luca Lanotte (ITA) danced into first place with music from the operetta, The Merry Widow. The snappy, fast-moving program earned level 4 for the twizzles and rotational lift, while the pattern dance and footwork received level 3. The score was 66.39.

The 2014 World Champions had a collision in the warm up.

”We feel it really affected our performance, which was clean, but way below what we could have put out there,” Cappellini said at the press conference.

Madison Chock & Evan Bates (USA) earned the highest technical score including a partial step sequence 9.30 mark. An unfortunate twizzle mistake skated them into second place.

“My mishap on the twizzles was a costly error, especially in the short dance,” Chock confessed at the press conference.

The program that included Andrea Bocelli and Il Divo vocals scored 65.36 – five points less than at its Skate America debut two weeks ago.

Elena Ilinykh & Ruslan Zhiganshin (RUS) chose “Somebody to Love” and “We Will Rock You” by Queen for their short dance music.  The second year team earned a level 4 for their twizzles and rotational lift and level 3 for the pattern and footwork. The score was 63.54

Kaitlin Hawayek & Jean-Luc Baker (USA) placed fourth with a performance skated to the Nutcracker Suite. The 2014 World Junior Champions finished with a season high 58.35. In the Kiss & Cry Hawayek was obviously in serious discomfort and received encouraging support from her partner and coach.

Federica Testa & Lukas Csolley (SVK) were fifth (53.90), Yue Zhao & Zheng (CHN) were sixth (51.02) and Shiyue Wang & Xinyu Liu (CHN) were seventh (50.64). Yue Cong & Zhuoming Sun (CHN) withdrew prior to the event for medical reasons.

Free Dance – November 7, 2015

Cappellini  & Lanotte (ITA) won their first GP gold medal with an animated interpretation of selections from La Dolce Vita. The light and playful performance was rewarded with a personal best 106.91 score – the highest free dance mark so far this season.

“Definitely today we skated the best we could,” Cappellini told the gathered press.

The 2014 European gold medalists earned level 4 for five of their elements. The highlight was an innovative straight-line lift that had Lanotte holding Cappellini by one foot in mid air while gliding down the ice. The energetic and high-spirited footwork also added spark and excitement to the program.

The total 173.30 score was 23 points higher than their 2014 Cup of China third place finish.

Cappellini & Lanotte next compete at Rostelecom Cup in Moscow. The roster includes the 2015 World gold and bronze medalists and two Russian teams who have already earned 2015/16 GP medals and points.

Chock & Bates (USA) remained in second place with a more mature looking program than skated in past seasons. The reining US champions earned level 4 for the twizzles, spin, and lifts, but they gave away points with their level 2 footwork.

The team was generally happy with their skate to Rachmaninov’s Concerto No. 2. However, Chock voiced concern about the technical marks, which will be addressed when back home in Michigan. On a lighter note, Chock’s dress was hand painted by a Japanese artist.

The 2015 World silver medalists qualified for the Grand Prix final with a first and second place in the series and a total 28 points.

Ilinykh & Zhiganshin (RUS) claimed the bronze medal – a step up to the podium from their 2014 fourth place event finish. The 2015 Russian National Champions skated passionately to the Mexican instrumental music from the soundtrack of the film, Frida.

The element levels ranged from 2 to 4, which reflected several small mistakes. In addition, the team had two deductions – extended lift and costume malfunction when a flower fell from her hair.  The program scored 95.46 – 10 points lower than at the Mordovian Ornament Challenger Series event in mid October.

“It is better to make some mistakes in the first (GP) competition and to know what to expect,” Ilinykh noted at the press competition.

The team next competes at the Rostelecom Cup in Moscow against the 2015 World Champions and the Skate Canada and Cup of China gold medalists.
Testa & Csolley (SVK) finished in fourth place with a character-based interpretation of selections from Italian film composer, Ennio Morricone.  Testa previously skated for her native Italy, but received Slovakian citizenship in 2013 just prior to the Sochi Olympics. The free dance scored 82.27.

Zhao & Zheng (CHN) scored a personal best 78.63 to a Marina Zueva choreographed program to the melancholy French love song, “Je suis malade” by Lara Fabian. The team finished fifth and has its sights set on winning the 2016 Chinese Championship.

Wang & Liu (CHN) used the Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon soundtrack by Tan Dun to demonstrate their strong acrobatic lifts. They placed sixth with a 76.09 free dance score.

Hawayek & Baker (USA) withdrew for medical reasons prior to their scheduled free dance.  The team skated in the warm up, but was unable to compete. Hawayek cited stomach issues.

Final Placement     Grand Prix Points
 1.  173.30 – Cappellini & Lanotte  (15)
 2.   169.16 – Chock & Bates  (13)
 3.  159.00 – Ilinykh & Zhiganshin  (11)
 4.  137.17 – Testa & Csolley  (09)
 5.  129.65 – Zhao & Zheng  (07)
 6.  126.73 –  Wang & Liu  (05)