Recap: 2022 Grand Prix de France

by Anne Calder

The third event in the 2022 Grand Prix Series was held in Angers, France from November 4-6. Gabriella Papadakis & Guillaume Cizeron, six-time winners of the French Grand Prix event, did not defend their title. For the first time since 2015 when the Olympic gold medalists were sidelined by an injury to Papadakis, a new champion was crowned.

Italy’s Charlene Guignard & Marco Fabbri (207.95) won their first Grand Prix gold medal by a six point margin over Canadians Laurence Fournier Beaudry and Nikolaj Sorensen (201.93). Representing the host country, Evgeniia Lopareva & Geoffrey Brissaud were a distant third (187.15). The podium order remained the same as after the Rhythm Dance.

Five teams made their series debut at the ISU event: Molly Lanaghan & Dmitre Razgulajeys (CAN) Marie Dupayge & Thomas Nabais (FRA), Maria Kazakova & Georgy Reviya (GEO), Eva Pate & Logan Bye (USA) and Katarina Wolfkostin & Jeffrey Chen (USA).

Rhythm Dance
Charlene Guignard & Marco Fabbri (83.52) closed the first day with a narrow lead over Canadians Laurence Fournier Beaudry & Nikolaj Sorensen (82.38). Evgeniia Lopareva & Geoffrey Brissaud of France, followed in third place (73.17).

The reigning Italian champions danced Samba to “This Is” and Rhumba to “I’m Crying (Mother’s Tears) both Grace Jones autobiographical pieces from the album, Hurricane. The program added a second Samba to “Pantera En Libertad “by Monica Naranjo. The six-time Lombardia Trophy gold medalists earned level 3 for the twizzles and Pattern Dance Step Sequence.  

“Overall, at the end of our performance, we felt that almost all the elements were better than at Lombardia Trophy,” Fabbri said.

Laurence Fournier Beaudry and Nikolaj Sorensen skated Rhumba to a Gloria Stefan medley which included: “Con Los Anos Que Me Quedan”, “Rhythm is Going to Get You”, and “Conga”. The team’s Choreographic Rhythm Sequence earned a 5.79 GOE, the highest in the competition. Their twizzles and stationary lift were level 4. The recent Finlandia Trophy gold medalists earned a personal best for their 82.38 Rhythm Dance. The team was pleased with their first Grand Prix of the season.

“We gave our best. We improved since our last competition in Finland,” Fournier Beaudry said.

Evgeniia Lopareva & Geoffrey Brissaud danced Rhumba to “Paxi Ni Ngongo” by Bonga and Samba to “Magalenha” by Sergio Mendes. The program was choreographed by Guillaume Cizeron. The twizzles earned level 3 and the stationary lift level 4. In August, the French duo began splitting their training time between Lyon, France and I.AM (Montreal).  

“We want to show our progress,” Brissaud explained. “Last year it was about technique, while this year it’s more about connection.”

The scores for teams four, five and six were very tight and could make the Free Dance quite competitive. 

In fourth place, Loicia Demougeot & Theo le Mercier (FRA) scored a personal best 70.76. Eva Pate & Logan Bye (USA) finished just 1.30 behind the French with a 69.46 score. Maria Kazakova & Georgy Reviya (GEO) relocated their training site to Italy and competed for the first time this season. The 2020 Junior World silver medalists were sixth with a 68.84.

Free Dance
Guignard & Fabbri widened their Rhythm Dance lead with an intense performance to “My Love Will Never Die”, “Mephistos Lullaby” and “Eden. The haunting beat and chanting cast a hypnotic spell as the program built. The flip to the shoulder entrance to the straight-line lift drew applause from the audience. The team earned mostly all 3 and 4 GOEs lifting the program score to 124.43 and a 207.95 total. The Italians compete again at the Grand Prix MK John Wilson Trophy in Sheffield, GBR.

Fabbri explained the genesis of their different style of music selection this season.

“When we were searching for something new at the end of last season, we had this sort of dark mood. I don’t know why. So we explored some dark-side music. Our coach found the first two pieces. The first one comes from the Netflix series, Lucifer. We really wanted to go for something different this year, and we’re happy with our choice.”

Fournier Beaudry and Sorensen chose music from Robert Rodriguez and Ennio Morricone soundtracks, plus Malaguena Salerosa by both Marco de Lahuen and Chingon. The Canadians were rewarded for their crisp and precise performance  with their first Grand Prix silver medal. The team earned level 4 for their three lifts and Sorensen’s twizzle. The program scored 119.55. The total was 201.93. The team’s next Grand Prix is the NHK Trophy in Sapporo, JPN.

Sorensen praised the French audience while awaiting the marks in the Kiss & Cry. “The crowd was awesome. You could feel the tension.”

Lopareva & Brissaud performed a second Guillaume Cizeron choreographed program for their free dance.  The music selections included two popular songs by French cabaret singer, Edith Piaf: “L’Accordeoniste” and “Mon Dieu”. The three-time French National silver medalists earned level 4 for the dance spin and twizzles. Their segment scored 113.98 and the total 187.15 earned them the bronze medal. Their second Grand Prix will be at the NHK Trophy in Sapporo, Japan.

“It’s a really emotional moment for us because it’s our first victory in the Grand Prix so we’re especially very happy because it was here in France,” said Lopareva.

The Free Dance scores briefly shuffled the order of the fourth, fifth and sixth place teams before the total results returned them to their previous order.

Loicia Demougeot & Theo le Mercier (FRA) held on to the fourth place position with three Cedric Tour arrangements. The segment scored 109.00 and the total was 179.76. Both were personal best scores. The team also finished fourth at Skate America two weeks ago.

Juulia Turkkila & Matthias Versluis (FIN) danced to a Franz Schubert medley that highlighted her ballet training. The team vaulted to fifth in the Free Dance after a fall the previous day had landed them in eighth place. The segment scored 108.63. The team will skate in front of a home audience in Finland at the last 2022 Grand Prix event.

Eva Pate & Logan Bye were sixth in the Free Dance to “Reel Around the Sun” by Bill Whelan, but held on to fifth place overall. The team has already won three international silver medals this season. The segment scored 104.57 and totaled 174.03.

Maria Kazakova & Georgy Reviya (GEO) placed seventh in their Free Dance to Mad World by 2WEI, Fleurie, Tommee Proffitt, and Roland Orzabal, but finished sixth with 173.05 points. The Georgians compete again next week at the MK John Wilson Trophy in Sheffield, Great Britain.