The ice dance competition ended with a surprise win from relative newbies, Gabrielle Papadakis & Guillaume Cizeron. I suspect that their victory had a little to do with the politics of the sport but this team did put out two solid skates – well done. Their SD was an improvement from what I saw earlier in the season – Papadakis & Cizeron are skating with more speed and precision than before and I think the momentum they’ve gotten over the season has allowed them to skate more confidently in important international competitions.
Their FD was gorgeous, as always, and perhaps one of the loveliest pieces of choreography this season. In terms of their skating, they’re not quite as precise with their blades as Chock & Bates but they do exhibit moments of greatness when you see them hold some very deep edges in their circular step sequence in the FD. Despite being World Champions, I encourage them to improve because they will likely need to defend their title against teams that will only get better and better. At the moment, the judges seemed to be charmed with them, giving them the highest PCS in both competition segments and if they continue to skate to lovely pieces like their FD, they have the potential to be locks on the podium in the current and new Olympic cycle.
I was a little annoyed when I saw that Madison Chock & Evan Bates were leading after the SD. Granted, it was not unexpected since Weaver & Poje’s SD was not as inspiring as it had been in previous seasons and they’ve been a bit shaky skating the program leading up to Worlds. Admittedly, I’m not a fan of Chock & Bates’ style but watching their SD made me wish that it would end soon. Despite Madison’s best efforts, the performance lacked passion and fire, which was exacerbated by the “elevator music” quality of their Paso Doble music. The only redeeming bit of choreography that was somewhat interesting was the sort of ina bauer that Chock did while hanging off Bates’ leg.
Their FD, in my opinion, was not any better than their SD in terms of choreography (and music, though that may be because I’m really not a fan of Gershwin) – I feel somewhat violated when watching Evan twirl Madison around with her kicking about in the last 30 seconds. At least, however, there was a nice moment of movement at the beginning and Chock’s FD dress was lovely but otherwise, I was not amused to say the least.
Nonetheless, let’s stay positive: Chock and Bates are admittedly technically proficient – they earned all level 4s in their elements in the SD and mostly level 4s in their FD. They skate with good unison and their edges are clean and precise, though they lack the positioning and thoughtfulness in movement that is characteristic of the Shibutanis or of Virtue & Moir. Although I may not be a fan of their skating style, I wonder if it’s because they have yet to find one that really suits them. Igor Shpilband isn’t really known for the most tasteful choreography since he split with Marina Zueva but he is an excellent technical coach. Chock and Bates are on the right path technically but they may benefit from getting choreography from other sources just to expand their repertoire a bit.
Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje, the team expected to win gold at Worlds, had a bit of a rough competition and ended up in bronze medal position. Their SD was skated a bit tentatively and they seemed to have missed some key elements in the Paso Doble pattern, resulting in a level 2. This performance felt a little uncharacteristic of Kaitlyn & Andrew, as it felt as if two people happened to be skating the same choreography – the usual connection, passion and verve seemed to be missing.
Weaver & Poje would have placed 2nd in the FD had they not gotten a deduction for an extended lift. Otherwise, I think this is the best that they’ve skated this FD. Their transitions were really lovely and they were committed to the performance. In general, I would really like to see this team generate more speed and skate more precisely by skating a little more into the knee. Although I am fond of this team, I find that at times, the placement of their legs feel a little haphazard and that their control over their edges is not quite there. I have yet to see the kind of blade through butter movements I’ve come to expect from the top Canadian team but they do have an entire Olympic cycle to grow so I’m hoping for the best.
As for some random comments and observations:
- Is the reign of Marina Zueva over? She didn’t have one team on the podium this year at Worlds.
- Anna Cappellini & Luca Lanotte came close to the podium but they had long fallen out of favour since the beginning of this season. What makes me sad though, is that they changed coaches and they’re still being styled as Tessa & Scott 2.0.
- Also being styled as Tessa & Scott 2.0 – Maia and Alex Shibutani. Do you know who else skated a waltz in a blue dress while the guy wore a white shirt/dark pants combo? The feel of the waltz was different but seriously:
- The dance pattern for next year’s SD is the Ravensburger Waltz, right up the Shibutani’s alley. I want to see this team do well and I think a change of choreography and maybe even coaches will do them some good.
- The new partnership of Elena Ilinykh/Ruslan Zhiganshin looked as if they needed to work out some kinks, especially ini regards to their twizzles but they were the highest ranking Russian team and the teams who surpassed them overall were either veterans or competent teams rising slowly rising up the ranks. I’m not sure if this team can have a meteoric rise like Papadakis & Cizeron since Elena is clearly so much better than Ruslan but I’m still very curious about how this team will progress. Elena needs a partner who can keep up with her, she is so talented.
- I have to admit, I still really miss Tessa & Scott and Meryl & Charlie.
What were your thoughts on the ice dance competition? Let me know in the comments!
~The Rinkside Cafe