Recap: 2022 NHK Trophy

by Anne Calder

Sapporo, Japan hosted the fifth ISU Grand Prix event, where North Americans Laurence Fournier Beaudry & Nikolaj Sorensen (CAN), Madison Chock & Evan Bates (USA) and Caroline Green & Michael Parsons (USA) received the gold, silver and bronze medals at the Awards Ceremony before the playing of “Oh Canada”.

Rhythm Dance
Fournier Beaudry took a slim lead over Chock & Bates with a Gloria Estefan medley that scored a personal best 85.66, The mark beat their Grand Prix score in France by three points just one week prior.  

“We’ve set high goals for this year and worked hard to realize those goals,” Sorensen noted.

Chock & Bates’ “Let’s Dance” scored a personal best 85.00, less than a point shy of the leaders. Chock’s level 1 in the Midline Step Sequence was the major difference. According to Bates, the David Bowie Remix was a change from Skate America with the current version being really up tempo. He appreciated the audience and their clapping response throughout the program.

Chock reacted to the midline step level 1. “That’s costly in any competition. We’ll be looking to clean that up and continue pushing our performance.”

Green & Parsons scored a personal best 77.00 points for their Samba, Rhumba and Samba to the music of three different artists. The team’s twizzles and curve lift earned level 4. The twizzle scored second in the event just .23 behind their American teammates. 

“This season for us has been about constant improvement,” Parsons said. “The last two weeks we’ve really been happy with how we’ve trained after Skate Canada.”

Teams four to six were separated by less than three points. Allison Reed & Saulius Ambrulevicius (LTU) scored 75.23 points, followed by the Japanese host country’s Kana Muramoto & Daisuke Takahashi with 75.10 and the French team of Evgeniia Lopareva & Geoffrey Brissaud with a 72.84 score.

Free Dance
Seven teams finished in a different place than they did in the Rhythm Dance. However, the final placement for the top four couples remained the same.

Fournier Beaudry & Sorensen danced Flamenco featuring the musical scores of Italian composer Ennio Morricone of two Mexican themed Western films made in Italy. The Canadian 2022 silver medalists earned level 4 twizzles, lifts and dance spin. Both of the midline step sequences and her One Foot Turn were level 3. Their 124.75 points and 210.41 total were personal best scores and won them their first Grand Prix gold medal.

“It’s a dream come true and something we have worked for a very long time,” Fournier Beaudry said.

Chock & Bates’ dance to “Souffrance” and “Les Tectoniques” earned level 4 twizzles, lifts and dance spin. The Skate America gold medalists made some program changes since the October event at the Skating Club of Boston. The Sapporo performance scored 124.13 and the two dances totaled 209.13. Both were season best marks, but not enough to overcome their Montreal I.AM training mates.

“We’ve done some evolving of our concept and character since Skate America,” Chock explained. “It’s about the relationship of the spirit of fire and spirit of air and how one cannot survive without each other. They have the ability to rebuild, devour and produce life to each other and things around them. It’s something we have connected with and are excited to keep exploring.”

The 2022 Four Continents Champions, Green & Parsons placed fourth in the Free Dance. Their performance to George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” earned level 4 twizzles, lifts and dance spin and scored a 114.10. Their total 191.10 was enough to take home the bronze –  their first Grand Prix medal.

“We know we can be a lot better in terms of execution and our general score, so we have a lot to work on,” Parsons said.

Allison Reed & Saulius Ambrulevicius (LTU) finished third in the Free Dance to “Insomnia” by Faithless and fourth overall. Evgeniia Lopareva & Geoffrey Brissaud (FRA) moved up a notch with a Guillaume Cizeron choreographed program to Edith Piaf songs for a 184.63 score. Kana Muramoto & Daisuke Takahashi (JPN) danced a beautiful Phantom of the Opera program for seventh place, but ended sixth with 178.78 points.

Teams who have qualified for the 2022-2023 Grand Prix Final in Torino, ITA December 8-11, 2022.

  • (ITA)   Charlene Guignard & Marco Fabbri (30 points)
  • (CAN) Laurence Fournier Beaudry & Nikolaj Sorensen (28 points)
  • (USA) Madison Chock & Evan Bates (28 points)
  • (GBR) Lilah Fear & Lewis Gibson (26 points)

The remaining two teams will be announced after the ISU Grand Prix Espoo, Finland November 25-27, 2022.