Four-time ISU World Ice Dance Champions Gabriella Papadakis/Guillaume Cizeron of France were untouchable at NHK Trophy in Sapporo (JPN) on Saturday and set new high scores on their way to the gold. Russia’s Alexandra Stepanova/Ivan Bukin earned the silver medal and, like the French, a ticket to the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final in Torino (ITA) next month. Charlene Guignard/Marco Fabbri of Italy took the bronze.
Papadakis/Cizeron put out a captivating dance, interpreting the poem 'Find You' by Forest Blakk and to music by Olafur Arnalds. The program featured effortless footwork and lifts which blended with the music and the words of the poem. The Olympic silver medalists collected a level four for six out of seven elements to achieve a personal best with 136.58 points in the Free Dance. Overall they accumulated 226.61 points.
Papadakis and Cizeron's captivating Free Dance featured lifts which perfectly matched the words of the poem 'Find You' © International Skating Union
“We're really happy about our scores here. There has been a lot of improvement on both programs since Grenoble. We've been working technically a lot on the rhythm dance and also in the free dance I think we're really starting to impersonate all of the characters of our programs,” Cizeron shared.
“We had a great feeling on the ice and I think we were able to connect with the audience, so it was a really good feeling,” he added.
Dancing to 'Primavera' and 'Cry Me a River', Stepanova/Bukin produced a strong performance that included level-four twizzles, lifts and a level-four combination spin. The 2019 European silver medalists posted a season’s best of 124.74 points which added up to 208.81 points overall.
“We're happy with both programs and we want to thank the audience for their warm support,” Stepanova commented. “I think when we get home, we'll discuss all our mistakes and deficits with our coaches and will work on fixing them,” she continued.
Alexandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin (RUS) dancing to 'Primavera' and 'Cry Me a River' ©International SKating Union (ISU)
Guignard/Fabbri delivered an interesting dance to 'Space Oddity' and 'Life on Mars' by David Bowie, and picked up a level four for five elements. However, Guignard slipped on the exit of the rotational lift. The European bronze medalists were ranked fourth in the Free Dance with 115.93 points, but overall remained in third at 198.06 points to take their second bronze medal on the Grand Prix circuit this season.
“We felt pretty disappointed with the performance today. We did a quite big mistake on the lift. We know we didn't have a lot of time to work on our free dance because we changed the rhythm dance, so the free dance was not really ready for this competition. But anyway we can't be happy with our performance,” Fabbri admitted.
Charlene Guignard and Marco Fabbri (ITA) dance to 'Space Oddity' and 'Life on Mars' by David Bowie ©International Skating Union (ISU)
Skate Canada bronze medalists Lilah Fear/Lewis Gibson (GBR) ranked third in the Free Dance with an entertaining Madonna Medley, and came fourth overall on 193.01 points. Shiyue Wang/Xinyu Liu (CHN) moved up from sixth to fifth at 183.11 points while Christina Carreira/ Anthony Ponomarenko (RUS) slipped to sixth on 182.26 points.
ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Standings Ice Dance.
Overall, 58 skaters/couples representing 11 ISU members compete at NHK Trophy November 22-24. The top 6 qualifiers of the Grand Prix series in each discipline will proceed to the Final in Turin (ITA), December 5 to 8, 2019. Full entry lists, results, the General Announcement of the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Series are available on isu.org.
Wins also for Surrey Storm, Saracens Mavericks and team bath
photo Dan Vernon
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