By Matteo Morelli

Coming back after a two-year break, Chongqing Huaxi Culture and Sports Center in Chongqing hosted the fourth Grand Prix event of the series, Cup of China. The event saw only 9 teams competing, after Czech team Natálie Taschlerová & Filip Taschler had to withdraw just a week prior to the event due to injury.

Canada’s Piper Gilles & Paul Poirier won the event, despite of a second-place finish after the rhythm dance. Also from Canada and recording a new personal best are Marjorie Lajoie & Zachary Lagha, which earn a second silver Grand Prix medal this season, whilst in bronze medal position were USA’s Caroline Green & Michael Parsons.

Event Recap

Piper Gilles & Paul Poirier of Canada added another gold to their Grand Prix results, winning Cup of China by a narrow margin to the other Canadian team in second place.

A mistake by Gilles on the twizzles in their rhythm dance meant a few points being lost and a second-place finish in this first segment of the event.

“Our big focus of the program was to try to amplify the energy and performance”, Gilles shared. “I felt I gave too much, and so I wasn’t really grounded and made a little mistake in the twizzles”.

Their free dance on “Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights” music allowed them to make up for the mistake in the rhythm dance and win the free dance segment, jumping up in first place overall.

“We are really proud of what we accomplished today,” Poirier shared. “It is always hard to come back after a not so strong performance and put it behind you, just clear your mind and allow yourself to skate like you know how to do”.

They felt that this free programme allowed them to express themselves better than they did the day before.

“We were able to channel that energy today and really get ourselves lost in the performance”, Poirier said.

With two gold medals, Gilles & Poirier are now sure to access the Grand Prix Final, which is also going to take place in China.

Marjorie Lajoie & Zachary Lagha entered the event in great shape: their rhythm dance on “Thriller” by Michael Jackson allowed them to end the first segment of the competition in first place and with a season best.

Their free on “Roses” by Quebecois artist Jean-Michel Blais was delivered with lightness and emotional intensity, allowing them to end the event with a new personal best.

“It was real fight and I am very proud of how we fought the program” Lajoie shared. “Skating last was very stressful for us with the long wait”.

With this result and high scores, they also qualified for the Grand Prix Final.

“We are very happy to go to the Grand Prix Final”, Lagha said. “It was a struggle at the beginning of the season as I had a few injuries, but we handled it like professionals and came ready for the Grand Prix”.

This year’s Canada nationals are going to be very interesting, with three top teams in great shape and all aiming to show their bests in view of the World Championships hosted in their home country.

USA’s Caroline Green & Michael Parsons ended in third place, earning a season best but probably hoping for something different at this event, with their scores being 12 points away from their personal best.

They shared that they were happy with the progress they are making this season, particularly given that their programmes were debuted only a few weeks ago at Skate America.

“It is possible to have a frustrating, yet fulfilling, program”, Parsons shared. “That would describe today’s skate for us pretty well”.

“We made a lot of progress in our elements and left a lot of points on the table, so we have a lot to improve on, but we are very happy with what we did today”, he added.

USA’s Eva Pate & Logan Bye ended in fourth place, improving by two position their results from Skate Canada. Their free dance on Polovtsian Dances by Alexander Borodin was delivered with confidence, with the team showing satisfaction for their results on the kiss & cry.

The other American team of Emily Bratti & Ian Somerville finished in sixth place overall. Their programmes take inspirations from two legends of figure skating: their rhythm dance is inspired by Yuzuru Hanyu, whilst their free is inspired by Carolina Kostner.

France’s Loïcia Demougeot & Théo le Mercier started their Grand Prix season with a fifth-place overall finish, making up two places from their rhythm dance. Their free programme is centred on ‘Claire de lune’ by Claude Debussy, with the French team skating beautifully on the famous notes played by the piano.

Despite of a sixth-place finish in both segments, Maria Kazakova & Georgy Reviya of Georgia ended in seventh place overall because of other teams’ results changing between segments. With the French team, they are going to compete again at NHK Trophy.

The two Chinese teams took the last two spots at the event: Xizi Chen & Jianing Xing in eighth place, and Shang Shi & Nan Wu in ninth place.

Qualification standings

With the fourth of six Grand Prix completed, the qualification standings for the Grand Prix Final are:

  • 30 points: Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier (Canada)
  • 26 points: Marjorie Lajoie and Zachary Lagha (Canada)
  • 22 points: Evgeniia Lopareva and Geoffrey Brissaud (France)
  • 15 points: Charlene Guignard and Marco Fabbri (Italy), Madison Chock and Evan Bates (USA)
  • 13 points: Lilah Fear and Lewis Gibson (Great Britain); Laurence Fournier-Beaudry and Nikolaj Sørensen (Canada)

Next Grand Prix

Espoo in Finland is going to welcome back another Grand Prix event after hosting one last year. World Champions Madison Chock & Evan Bates are coming back for their second Grand Prix, after debuting their new programmes and winning Skate America. They will be challenged by Laurence Fournier-Beaudry & Nikolaj Sørensen of Canada, which won a silver medal at Grand Prix de France and that will try to replicate last year’s NHK Trophy result, where they won over the American team. This event will also see Finnish champions Juulia Turkkila & Matthias Versluis kicking off their Grand Prix season, and USA’s Christina Carreira & Anthony Ponomarenko competing at their second Grand Prix after a fourth-place finish at Grand Prix de France.

Grand Prix of Espoo takes place from November 17-19.