by Daphne Backman
JGP Courchevel has officially concluded with Russians Alla Loboda & Pavel Drozd winning the gold, while Madeline Edwards & ZhaoKai Pang of Canada and Anastasia Shpilevaya & Grigory Smirnov of Russia claimed silver and bronze, respectively.
Edwards & Pang took a 1.74-point lead after the short dance, scoring 51.84. Their performance showed great speed and unison on their twizzles, as well as a strong connection to each other throughout the program. Although they received the highest technical and component marks, they have some room for improvement at their next event, as they received level 2 on both Samba sequences, as well as level 1 on their step sequence.
In second, Loboda & Drozd trailed the Canadians by 2.08 points on the twizzles element alone. While they had decent speed on the element, their unison was off. They did receive a higher level on one Samba sequence and their step sequence to close the gap a little, en route to a total score of 50.10. The program choreography had nice highlight moves, but the transitions in their lift, while it received a level 4, were not smooth. They seemed to relax in the last third of the program and sold it well.
Shpilevaya & Smirnov received the second highest technical mark, but remained in third due to lower PCS scores. The Russians seemed slower than the top two teams, but received levels 3 and 2, respectively on their Samba sequences.
Loboda & Drozd’s performance to “Giselle” by Adolphe Adam featured lovely leaps and nuances, as well as great speed and transitions on their lifts and spin. They set a new personal best of 82.34, and still have an opportunity to improve their flow as this program becomes more comfortable.
Skating to music from “Life is Beautiful,” Edwards & Pang posted the highest component marks in the free dance, but receiving level 1 on both step sequences hurt their overall result. Their performance had good speed and matching leg lines, and was characterized by smooth flow, even on intricate steps as they transitioned in and out of their elements.
In their JGP debut, Shpilevaya & Smirnov’s performance included an innovative stationary rotational lift at the beginning of the program. Although they had the second-highest technical score in the free dance, their PCS was again several points lower than the top teams and the Ukrainians who finished fourth. Over time, this will likely improve, and they appear to be a good match.
Although they were third in the free dance, Alexandra Nazarova & Maxim Nikitin’s fifth-place short dance performance which kept them over four points back from the podium. Their music stopped during the second Samba sequence and even though they kept going, they received a level 1 on the element. After making the JGP Final in 2013, the Ukrainian team was expected to fight for a medal, even contend for gold.
U.S. ice dancers Chloe Lewis & Logan Bye and Emily Day & Kevin Leahy finished fifth and eighth, respectively. Melinda & Andrew Meng of Canada finished seventh.
Overall, the judges marked the event quite conservatively, as is typical in the first JGP event of each season.