by Anne Calder

The ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating’s Cup of China returned to Chongqing for the second straight year on November 6-8. Unfortunately due to Covid-19, many format changes were necessary.

Travel restrictions prevented international athletes from competing, which resulted in an all-China roster. In 2019 couples from Canada, Japan, Russia and the USA had participated with three of the Chinese couples on the 2020 list.

No live audience was allowed, so pumped in applause cheered on the skaters.

Rhythm Dance

As a result of the pandemic and reduced training sessions, the ISU made the decision to retain the 2019-2020 Finnstep as the pattern for the current season. Most teams kept their programs while also tweaking some elements to strengthen the output.

The couples finished the Rhythm Dance in the following order: Shiyue Wang & Xinyu Liu, Hong Chen & Zhuoming Sun, Wanqi Ning & Chao Wang, Yuzhu Guo & Pengkun Zhao and Yufei Lin & Zijian Gao.

Wang & Liu performed their snappy, fast-moving Charlie Chaplin routine from last season. While they didn’t change any of the technical elements, the “look-alike” movements and comedic expressions were sharper and more precise. The judges rewarded them with mostly +9.00 component scores.

The Finnstep, twizzles, rotational lift and Liu’s partial step sequence earned level 4; their Diagonal and Wang’s partial step sequences were level 3. The performance scored 84.23 points.

One couple who opted to change its rhythm dance from last season was Chen & Sun. The team danced to The Showman performed by Keala Settle, who played the bearded lady in the P.T. Barnum biographical film. The twizzles and straight-line lift were level 4, with the remaining elements earning a level 3. The segment scored 76.57 points.

Ning & Wang performed to several “sing-along” tunes from the 1964 musical, Mary Poppins. The couple danced the foxtrot, quickstep, waltz, and polka to the program choreographed by Ice Academy of Montreal’s Pascal Denis. The twizzles and stationary lift earned level 4; the segment scored 69.07.

Competing at their second straight Cup of China, Guo & Zhao scored 65.01 points for their dance to selections from “Swing Kids” also choreographed by Canadian Pascal Denis.

Lin & Gao made their senior debut with an Igor Shpilband and Pasquale Camerlengo choreographed dance to The Mask and A Chorus Line that scored 56.80 points.

FREE DANCE

Wang & Liu delivered a dramatic gold medal performance to selections from the 2010 Black Swan film soundtrack by composer Clint Mansell. While the four-time Chinese National Champions kept last season’s program, they had to alter some of the elements to compensate for Liu’s injury. The dancer underwent hand surgery two months ago and had only practiced for three weeks.

The combination spin, lifts and twizzles earned level 4; the step sequences were level 3. The segment scored 122.61 points with a 206.84 total.

Chen & Sun returned to their 2018-2019 “I Will Wait for You” (Umbrellas of Cherbourg) music for the current season. However, the program itself is new; it was created online with their coaches in Montreal. Together, they’re working on making it more emotional.

The lyrical performance received level 4 for the combination spin, lifts and twizzles and scored 115.69 points. The total 192.26 earned them the silver medal.

Ning & Wang danced to selections from the French musical, Mozart L’Opera Rock about the life of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The dramatic presentation earned level 4 for the combination spin and lifts and 102.83 points for the segment. The total for both the rhythm and free dances was 171.90. Pascal Denis choreographed the bronze medal program.

Guo & Zhao were fourth with a balletic-like performance to “One Thousand Years” by Christina Perri and “Dance for Me Wallis” from the W.E soundtrack. The combination spin, lifts and twizzles were level 4. The segment scored 97.35 points; the total was 162.36.

Anjelika Krylova choreographed the free dance program for Lin & Gao to Christina Perri’s “A Thousand Years” and “Arms”. The combination spin, lifts and twizzles earned level 4. The segment scored 85.53 points and totaled 142.33 for both performances.