Smooth when it needed to be smooth, crisp when it needed to be crisp – Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron are in the lead in Moscow with their Ed Sheeran’s short dance; they came to their fifth Europeans as a three-time consecutive European champions – and they’re seeing the competition as a midpoint in their preparation for the Olympics.
by Florentina Tone
“Alleeeeez!”, you can hear people in the audience screaming when the French take the ice; and for the next 2 minutes and 50 seconds, you’re on the dance floor, clapping and moving and mumbling, to the rhythms of “Shape of You” and “Thinking Out Loud”.
It was Christopher Dean who came up with the idea of the music for this season’s Latin short dance, Gabriella will explain. “We liked it, because we wanted to do something more young, more urban, more modern, more like us. We started playing with the music, and we’re having fun dancing to it”.
As for their body movements all throughout the performance – they’re embracing the rhythms, that’s so easy to tell – “it is something we’ve been working on, obviously, because it is Latin year and moving the body is the first component of the dance. It is something we love doing and we have done a lot of work off ice with teachers, with ballroom teachers and other dance teachers. It is hard to do on ice, as we have to be steady on our feet, but it is a fun challenge and I am happy we succeeded”.
They received 81.29 points for their short dance in Moscow and they’re currently in the lead – but exiting the ice Gabriella knew there were some things left on the table, “petit trucs”, as she told Romain. She’ll talk about it in the press conference: “It was just a little check on the twizzle. I wasn’t sure if it was visible after we skated. It’s not something I do often. I practice my twizzles a lot during the week, so I am a little bit frustrated about that, but silly mistakes like that are easy to work on, so I am going to work on it”.
“Today we had a really good feeling on the ice”, Guillaume will share. „We have been working really hard since the beginning of the season and we’re just happy to see that our work is paying off, and we can really trust our training and the path that we’re on. We try to work on every detail, on everything that can be worked on and improved, and we will continue to do that until Worlds in Milan. We really enjoy both our programs this year – and it is really fun to learn and to keep working on them”.
As for the European Championships as the last stop before Olympics, “this was kind of a midpoint in our preparation for the Olympic Games. It feels a bit like the beginning of a second season and we are very happy with the base we have here”.
“It was unreal”
Skating last out of the 30 couples, Alexandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin had a blast during their performance in Megasport Arena – and the final part of the dance in particular, to “Samba do Brasil”, had people cheering, clapping, screaming.
A fantastic reception – that even took them by suprise, Alexandra will share in the mixed zone: “It was unreal. Although the stands are not completely full, because it is a working day, we felt like there were a million of spectators. Especially for the step sequence at the end, the audience exploded”. Ivan will add: “We’ve never had that, and it really gave us energy. We’ve trained here, we competed here at the Rostelecom Cup, but today it was amazing”.
And the truth is that was a great performance, building and building till the end, from the 2015 European bronze medalists, scoring 75.38 points, a personal best, and having them in second place.
“We want more and expect more from ourselves”
Different kind of emotions were in Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte’s camp at the end of their short dance to Cha Cha and Samba.
“It is not the best score and what we were hoping for, we are a bit disappointed”, Anna commented in the mixed zone; they’d just received 74.76 points for their performance. “This was supposed to be a stepping stone, an increase in our short program score and it wasn’t. We had a demanding preparation, and this means we need to keep training hard”.
Luca tried to put things into context: “We tried to give our presentation lots of energy, but it felt rough. We managed to do a good, clean skate, but it was tough and I think that is what the judges saw”.
The Italians sit in the third place now – and that makes them readier to work even more approaching the Olympics, Anna said in the press conference: “We were definitely just going to work as hard as humanly possible before the Olympics. That was the plan and that still is the plan. We are still a little hungry. We want more and expect more from ourselves”.
With 74.43 points, Russia’s Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev are within striking distance of the podium, while Charlene Guignard and Marco Fabbri are in fifth place, with 71.58 points.