Recap: 2022 Winter Olympics Free Dance

by Anne Calder | Photos by Melanie Heaney

The 2022 ice dance competition is history. The pandas have been distributed and the medals awarded.

The podium included: Gabriella Papadakis & Guillaume Cizeron (FRA) gold, Victoria Sinitsina & Nikita Katsalapov (ROC) silver and Madison Hubbell & Zachary Donohue (USA) bronze. Teams four through six: Madison Chock & Evan Bates (USA), Charlene Guignard & Marco Fabbri (ITA) and Alexandra Stepanova & Ivan Bukin (ROC).

Papadakis & Cizeron’s dance to “Elegie” by French composer Gabriel Fauré was mesmerizing. Their twizzles, combination spin and straight line and curve lifts earned level 4, while the rotational lift and step sequences were level 3. The four-time World champions received 26 perfect 10.00 scores for the Program Components. The duo received a season best 136.15 for the dance and a personal best  226.98 total.

Papadakis spoke about their work ethic since winning silver, not gold in 2018. “For years this was the only medal that we wanted. The past four years were just about that moment. We worked a lot, and it was very hard. We are here now. I feel like I am watching a movie about my life.”

On their performance, Cizeron noted ”Honestly, I don’t remember much. I don’t know, it’s like time stops. You kind of get through it and then it’s over. We just relied on our trust, and we borrowed the energy of all of our teammates and coaches. It’s memories, it’s eye contact that I will never forget.”

The ROC team, Sinitsina & Katsalapov, chose fellow countryman Sergei Rachmaninov’s Second Piano Concerto for their dance. The twizzles, spin, and lifts earned level 4; the midline and one-foot step sequences were level 3. The program scored a personal best 131.66 and 220.51 total.

Sinitsina spoke about winning silver. “This means everything. It’s an athlete’s dream; it’s something they work all their lives for. I am very proud of Nikita and myself for achieving this result.”

Katsalapov added, “I was absolutely shocked. I couldn’t believe it. I was so hungry, so focused. I feel I brought forward all of my best qualities to make this performance as successful as it was.”

Americans Hubbell & Donohue combined power with finesse in their dance to “Drowning” by Anne Sila.  The spin, lifts and twizzles earned level 4; the step sequences were level 3. The two-time Olympians received a timing deduction for the SlLi4+RoLi4 element after going over the 12 second limit. Their program scored a personal best 130.89 and total 218.02. 

Hubbell noted, “We were really emotional. I tried my best to stay very focused on the performance and told myself that as soon as I was done, I would take it all in during the bow. That’s what we did.”

Donohue added, “It was a really emotional performance for us, and it took a lot of focus, drive and it just hasn’t really sunk in yet.”

Reigning US National Champions Chock & Bates placed fourth with their uniquely creative program to music by Daft Punk. A  message of acceptance and eventual love manifests itself when an astronaut meets an alien in outer space. It scored 130.63. The total 214.77 placed them 3.5 points behind the bronze medalists. Both were personal bests.

Bates explained the message they wanted to bring to the Olympic stage with their dance.

“What we’re going for [in the program] is an evolution of at first being uncertain of one another and having a guard up. Then we have conflict and resolution. Then it’s like a beautiful anthem. In the end, it’s all about learning to find love and acceptance for people who look different than you or people who are from a different place than you.” 

“Our costumes reflect our characters.” Chock added. “The choreography is very intricate and fast as we’re skating to electronic music. We put a lot of time and thought into it and also worked with dance specialists. It’s very special to us.”

Guignard & Fabbri of Italy moved up two spaces to fifth place with an emotional dance to “Atonement” and “Little Sparrow”. The program scored 124.38, bringing the total to 207.05.

“This is the program we built last season, but we didn’t want to throw it away,” Fabbri said. “We wanted to skate it at the Olympic Games because it’s a program we really feel from the depth of our hearts.”

The 2022 European silver medalists, Stepanova & Bukin were sixth with music from “We Have a Map of the Piano” by Mum and “A Time For Us” from Romeo & Juliet. They scored a total 207.05.

“We were a bit more nervous today than the rhythm dance,” Bukin said. “We did almost all of our elements. The ice was good.”

Piper Gilles & Paul Poirier (CAN) 2021 World Bronze Medalists slipped to seventh place after a rare misstep with their Combination Curve lift. “Today wasn’t the skate that we wanted. It’s definitely hard.”


  • In the 43 dances skated, 129 step sequence levels were awarded. There was not a single level 4. (highest)
  • Gabriella Papadakis & Guillaume Cizeron are the second French team to win Olympic gold. Marina Anissina & Gwendal Peizerat won in Salt Lake City in 2002.
  • Nikita Katsalapov is the first ice dancer to win an Olympic medal with two different partners. In Sochi, Russia in 2014, he won bronze with Elena Ilinykh.
  • Eleven teams of the starting roster train at the Ice Academy of Montreal. (I.AM)
  • The following coaches are also Olympians (the teams they coach):
                     Marie France Dubreuil / Patrice Lauzon (I.AM)
                     Barbara Fusar Poli (ITA)
    Anjelika Krylova (GER)
                     Maurizio Margaglio (LTU, FIN)
                     Sylwia Nowak-Trebacka (POL)
                     Juris Razgulajevs (CAN)
    AleXander Svinin / Irina Zhuk (ROC)
                     Alexander Zhulin (ROC, UKR)
  • The following teams made their Olympic debut:
                     Laurence Fournier Beaudry & Nikolaj Soerensen (CAN)
                     Diana Davis & Gleb Smolkin (ROC)
                     Lilah Fear & Lewis Gibson (GBR)
                     Tina Garabedian & Simon Proulx Senecal (ARM)
                     Kaitlin Hawayek & Jean Luc Baker (USA)
                     Maria Kazakova & Georgy Reviya (GEO)
                     Misato Komatsubara & Tim Koleto (JPN)
                     Marjorie Lajoie & Zachary Lagha (CAN)
                     Katharina Mueller & Tim Dieck (GER)
                     Paulina Ramanauskatte & Deividas Kizala (LTU)
                     Olivia Smart & Adrian Diaz (ESP) *
                     Alexandra Stepanova & Ivan Bukin (ROC)
                     Natalie Taschlkerova & Filip Taschler (CZE)
                     Juulia Turkkila &Matthias Versluis (FIN)
                     * Diaz competed in 2014 with Sara Hurtado)

In Their Own Words…

  • Juulia Turkkila (FIN) “It’s been since 1994 that we’ve had a couple in the Olympics (Susanna Rahkamo & Petri Kokko finished fourth), so we are very proud to represent the whole Finnish ice dance community.”
  • Tina Garabedian (ARM) “The fact we are here on the international stage is our goal – to tell people that Team Armenia is in the game as well.”
  • Kaitlin Hawayek (USA) “To be able to have such a highlight in our 10th season [together], to be competing at our first Olympics, really means the world.”
  • Liu Zinyu (CHN) “We were the only Asian pair among the 20 [in the Free Dance]. We haven’t reached our limits. We have room for further progress.”
  • Shiyue Wang (CHN) “The adversity of the past two years (with the Covid pandemic) actually enhanced our confidence.”
  • Nikolaj Soerensen (CAN) “On our Rhythm Dance performance, breaking the ice today with a nice performance and our personal best just feels really good.”
  • Lewis Gibson GBR) (After the Rhythm Dance) “Our season was full of ups and downs whether that was results or placements. We’re really excited to stand here. We’re absolutely ready for the Free Dance.”
  • Adrian Diaz (ESP) (After the Rhythm Dance) “We’ve been here for so long just training and training. It’s very good to finally perform from beginning to end in front of the judges, in all the costumes.”
  • Katharina Mueller (GER) “We are not defined by points. We are defined by people who say how grateful they are about our programs. That’s where the energy is from.”
  • Natalia Kaliszek (POL) We were really focused [in the Rhythm Dance] and did almost everything that we wanted, so for us it was a quite strong performance.”
  • Gleb Smollkin (ROC) (After the Free Dance) “Our coach (Igor Shpilband) was very happy for us. Normally it’s not like him to express as much emotion, but he seemed pleased, so we are happy as well.”
  • Zachary Lagha (CAN) “It’s our first Games, we are still growing. Before thinking about having bigger scores we need to improve our range of motion, skate bigger.”