Never in the history of the Grand Prix Series was an event stopped midway; but then again never in the last couple of years has the world been so troubled; and the peace sign on Piper Gilles’ costume more actual. We at Inside Skating extend our condolences to the families of victims of terrorist attacks all around the globe – and hope the world will regain its beauty and serenity.
This year’s edition of Trophée Eric Bompard – hosted, for the second time in a row, by the city of Bordeaux – was meant to be exactly about beauty and serenity, and till the night of November 13th it was just that. Top skaters from 15 countries took the ice for their programs – and some of them really shined in France: America’s Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue were exquisite during their short dance, abandoning themselves to the intense, rich voice of K.D. Lang; Gracie Gold was on the top of her game in the ladies’ event, owning and selling her tango like never before; Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov should have been given the Bollywood Oscar for their performance (not to mention an air of the Olympics crept into the Meriadeck arena); while Japan’s Shoma Uno hit a terrific short program in Bordeaux, sweeping everyone into the story he told on the ice, to „Legends” by Sacred Spirit. Well, Inside Skating gold medal (half of it, at least) goes to this spirit of the ice, the 17-year-old Shoma Uno, for his magnetic presence, modesty and obvious talent.
N.a: up to this point, the ISU hasn’t yet announced, for the skaters competing in France, the criteria for the Grand Prix Final qualification; it is believed the short program will be taken into consideration, but amendments might be made as regards the total number of finalists in Barcelona.
by Florentina Tone
You could call him the spirit of the ice – and you wouldn’t be that far from the truth actually: with his black-grey, sparkling suit and eye-catching presence, Shoma Uno looked almost surreal in the midst of the fog building up in the ice rink. You must have seen that white haze in Meriadeck arena in Bordeaux and the genie gliding from here to there, as if the white surface were Aladdin’s lamp and he would take all of his power from within it.
And he did skate a breathtaking routine, Shoma Uno, at the second Grand Prix event of his senior career; one that included a gorgeous triple Axel, a quadruple Toeloop and a triple Flip-triple Toeloop combination – totaling 89.56 points, a new personal best score.
Amazing to everyone standards, this particular short program didn’t satisfy the 17-year-old, who stated in the press conference: “I think my performance was less than 70 percent today. The quality of my quad toe and triple Axel could have been better and also my steps and moves were not as good as I can do them in practice”. By all means, the Japanese teenager is too modest – at the end of the day, he was first, followed by Russia’s Maxim Kovtun (86.82 points) and his fellow Japanese, Daisuke Murakami (80.24 points). The Olympic bronze and silver medalists, Denis Ten and Patrick Chan, were 4th and 5th respectively.
Madison Hubbell, Zachary Donohue and the voice of K.D. Lang, now that’s a match made in heaven and the proof that inspired musical choices can – and will – put you into the spotlight. The Americans have always been spot on technically, but this season’s short dance really displayed the (other) qualities of their skating: beauty, softness, fluidity, as if the two were floating over the ice, following every nuance in K.D. Lang’s voice. Not to mention effortless, controlled, with both of them perfectly entering the roles of the dance. Except it wasn’t a role, it was them – and Zachary whispering “I love you” while embracing Madison after the 2 minutes and 30 seconds of the dance was the perfect ending to their story on the ice. Later on, during the press conference, Madison confessed: “The program felt smooth and comfortable tonight. We’ve been putting in a lot of work this off-season to make sure we were in shape and we made really the best debut possible after our coaching change. It’s a program we’re really connected to and it’s really a joy to skate”.
Only 0.51 of a point separated the Americans from Canada’s Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier and their colorful, out of the box short dance, to music by “The Beatles”, Mozart and Jean-Philippe Rameau. Quite an interesting combination, isn’t it? Well, it wouldn’t be them in the absence of a peculiar musical choice and innovative choreography to go along with the music. We at Inside Skating love what Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier are bringing to the table and, in this particular case – terrorist attacks happening in Paris –, their optimistic, flower-power short dance, and Piper’s peace sign on the back of her suit can truly act as an appeal to normality and equilibrium.
The Canadians were followed by the elegant Alexandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin from Russia, while Great Britain’s Penny Coomes and Nicholas Buckland, now trained by Igor Shpilband, arrived in 4th place.
Looking at Gracie Gold’s short program in Bordeaux, all sharp and slick and sophisticated, you might sense something changed in the American’s approach to competitions this season. This might be Gracie Gold’s golden year – and rightfully so. The 20-year-old has all the qualities needed for success, and her overall presence at this year’s edition of TEB might be the first step towards that. She sold the tango, Gracie: the program choreographed by Lori Nichol had the attack, the spark, the confidence, and Gracie’s upright, proud posture really embraced the characteristics of the dance. The result? 73.32 points – a personal best for the American.
Gracie Gold was followed by Russia’s Julia Lipnitskaia (65.63 points) and Italy’s Roberta Rodeghiero (58.81 points). The Japanese Kanako Murakami arrived in 4th place (58.30 points), while the World champion Elizaveta Tuktamysheva was 5th in Bordeaux (56.21 points).
One thing is sure, the battle for silver in the pairs event would have been tough – no less than four couples would have fought for it: France’s Vanessa James and Morgan Cipres, Canada’s Julianne Seguin and Charlie Bilodeau, China’s Cheng Peng and Hao Zhang, Italy’s Nicole Della Monica and Matteo Guarise – but there were really no uncertainties about the gold. At the end of the day, Russia’s Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov were in a comfortable lead in Bordeaux, after being awarded 74.50 points for their Bollywood-themed short program.
This edition of Trophée Eric Bompard was Tatiana and Maxim’s first Grand Prix event since their gold medal in Sochi, at 2014 Olympics, and there was this great sense of anticipation in the air as their time on the ice approached. Well, the Russians definitely threw the big guns in battle, and though some of the elements looked a little rough (Tatiana’s landings, for example), they both looked strong and ready to take up where they left off a year and a half ago. The word that best describes them is that: royalties. When entering the ice, Tatiana and Maxim look like they belong there. „Today we were the Volosozhar/Trankov from before”, Maxim confirmed in the press conference after the event. Unfortunately, they’ll skip their next GP, NHK Trophy, due to Tatiana’s heel injury.
Other PHOTOS from Bordeaux