by Anne Calder | Photo by Robin Ritoss

Cup of China was held November 8-10 in Chongqing – a Yangtze River port city in southwest China. Ten couples representing five countries competed to qualify for the Grand Prix Final.

The podium order was Russia, United States of America and Canada. Personal bests were scored and one ice dance team punched a ticket to Torino, Italy and the GP Final. Victoria Sinitsina & Nikita Katsalapov won their first Grand Prix gold medal. Madison Chock & Evan Bates won their second silver medal in a row, while Laurence Fournier Beaudry & Nikolaj Sorenson added another bronze to their 2019 Grand Prix medal collection.

Rhythm Dance
Sinitsina & Katsalapov used quick-stepping “Singing in the Rain” footwork to earn level 3’s and 3.73 and 3.18 GOE marks for their step sequences. While the couple hadn’t competed in over a month, they did spend time sharpening their skills and training hard. It paid off with an 85.39 first place score.

Chock & Bates’ “It’s Too Darn Hot” didn’t sizzle enough to catch the Russians. Skating in back-to-back Grand Prix events, they hit only one Finnstep key point and got a level 2 for the pattern dance footwork. The spectacular opening straight-line lift earned eight +4 GOEs. The score was 80.34.

Beaudry & Sorenson danced to selections from the Bonnie & Clyde soundtrack and scored a 78.41 for third place. The highlight was the dancers continuing to twizzle as the sheriff’s voice-directed their hand movements during Clyde’s arrest. The Canadians were the only team to hit all four key points.

The Chinese audience greeted the home crowd favorites, Shiyue Wang & Xinyu Liu with thunderous applause. Their Charlie Chaplin program used their height difference as an advantage in interpreting the silent screen character’s familiar animations. The fourth place program scored 74.77.

Kaitlin Hawayek & Jean-Luc Baker fell behind their Chinese training mates, with only the curve lift and Baker’s twizzles earning level 4. The Saturday Night Fever soundtrack had the audience tapping their toes, but those technical marks were disappointing. The disco program scored 74.70.

Free Dance
Chock & Bates vaulted over the Russians to win the free dance with a personal best 128.21 score. The program earned level 4s for all the elements except the step sequences, which received level 3. The 2019 Four Continents Champions received 11.20 GOE points out of a possible 12.45 for their three Choreographic Moves. The couple maintained their ‘Egyptian Snake Dance’ theme throughout right down to even keeping their hand movements in sync during the difficult twizzles.

Unfortunately, low rhythm dance technical levels came back to haunt them, and it was silver for the second straight week. However, Chock still felt that their ‘two in a row’ GP events actually kept them focused and in competition mode, rather than having a negative effect. The earned points qualified them for the Grand Prix Final. Their 208.56 total was also a personal best score.

Sinitsina & Katsalapov were not pleased with their free dance performance to “I Giorni” and “Songs My Mother Taught Me”. In spite of their disappointment, the Muscovites held on and won the gold medal by 1.35 points. The twizzles, lifts, spin and his one-foot step sequence earned level 4. The other elements were level 3. The Russians also received a one-point deduction for an extended lift.

The World silver medalists look forward to competing next week on home ice at the Rostelecom Cup in Moscow, Russia where they will face-off against the Skate Canada gold medalists, Piper Gilles & Paul Poirier. Both couples will be favorites to qualify for the Grand Prix Final in Torino, Italy.

Beaudry & Sorenson danced to the sultry trumpet sounds of Chris Botti’s “Summertime” and Michael Bublé’s vocal “Cry Me a River”. The twizzles and lifts earned level 4; the other graded elements were level 2. The performance scored 112.33 points and a total 190.74. The scores were lower than at Skate America and Sorenson’s revelation after the competition that an injured right knee had kept him off-ice the previous week could have been a factor.

The home ice crowd returned for the second night to enthusiastically cheer on their favorite couple. They greeted Wang & Liu even before the Black Swan music began. The fourth place program scored 111.68; the total was 186.45. Both marks were personal bests.

Hawayek & Baker were fifth in both the free dance and overall. The lifts and twizzles earned level 4. The program scored 105.26; the total was 179.96.

The fifth Grand Prix Series event, Rostelecom Cup, will be held in Moscow, Russia from November 15-17.