Savouring their success in Moscow, Gabriella Papadakis will share during the press conference with a smile: “It is our fourth gold medal at Europeans and even though the colour is the same, it has always been a different emotion every time. The first time was a surprise, but now it is something we are looking for”. And so the French came to this year’s edition of the Europeans looking for their fourth consecutive gold, and managed to do so, breaking their own World records in the process – for the free dance and combined total.
But what they also did on the ice of Megasport arena was, once again, making “Moonlight Sonata” their own. Wearing it, breathing it – as they do with every music they choose.
by Florentina Tone
They had their eyes, their ears on “Moonlight Sonata” for a while, waiting for the perfect season to use it – and Guillaume Cizeron recalled in Moscow: “When we chose that music we both had the feeling that it felt right. It felt like a song we could relate to”. He’ll admit though: “It was a really big challenge to do choreography that fits with that music”, but then again “it is such a beautiful piece that we really wanted to honor it”.
And they did exactly that from the beginning of the season – and they’re hoping to do it again very soon, on the Olympic ice.
And as with all the other participants and medal contenders in Moscow, for the French too the Europeans were “an important step” and “a good opportunity to test the little adjustments” they’ve made to their programs.
And this free dance in particular will keep you glued to your chair.
So many details and beautiful nuances – Guillaume’s exit from the twizzles, a spin, like a twirling bouquet, during Presto Agitato, Gabriella letting herself fall into his arms the moment the music suggests it, the tranquil air of their lifts.
All of those make for a subtle, airy composition – one that was awarded 121.87 points, the current World record score for the free dance; and another World record for the combined total: 203.16 points.
“We are pretty happy with our score and we feel like it’s a really good base to work on”, Guillaume will tell the journalists at the end of the day.
Not to mention this particular competition, and its outcome also gave them a chance to create brand new memories in Moscow. And good ones too, Gabriella will share in the winners’ interview: “We competed in Moscow before in a Grand Prix event a few years ago, but we didn’t do so well [2013 Rostelecom Cup was their second senior GP – they finished on the 7th place]. So we’re very happy to come back here and skate well”.
And they did skate well in Moscow at their second visit. More than that: their embodiment of “Moonlight Sonata” – all arms, all air, all feeling – has been one of the defining moments of these Europeans.
“These past four years since Sochi have been like a small lifetime”
For the Olympic season, Russia’s Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitry Soloviev are too playing to their strengths: they’re good at telling stories, and they do exactly that during their “Oblivion” and “Beethoven’s Five Secrets” free dance.
“Katia, davaaaai!”, someone shouts from the audience, while Katia and Dima take the opening position for their dance. And for the next 4 minutes, you witness such a moving, impressive story: she doesn’t see, and then she sees and discovers the world, and then she vanishes, to the astonishment of her partner. And at the end of the skate, Ekaterina looks on the verge of crying – that emotional of an experience that might have been.
And with 112.70 points for the free dance and 187.13 overall, they come from 4th place to claim the silver medal in Moscow – their sixth European medal in their seventh Europeans.
Minutes later in the press conference, Ekaterina will do a detailed summary of each and every medal they won at Europeans: “We started our journey with a silver medal . We were really happy with that first medal. The second one was silver, but we got a small gold medal in the short dance, which was great . Then we got gold in a very tough fight. We won with a difference of 0.11 points . Then there was a little break because we didn’t compete at Europeans before or after the Olympics [2014 and 2015]. Then we came back and won bronze and we were very happy because it wasn’t easy. It was a huge competition to come back after a break . Then last year  we won bronze, but we got a small gold medal for the short dance, which we were very happy about. And now it is silver. We hope we will have the chance to win more in the future”.
And it’s still Ekaterina who glances around the last couple of seasons in order to describe themselves now: “These past four years since Sochi have been like a small lifetime. We have completely changed. We are not the same Katia and Dima as we were four years ago. There is no sense in comparing our preparation for Sochi with Korea, because we have different aims – it is completely different”.
Different types of emotion
After two season-hiatus – they were 5th in both 2016 and 2017 – Alexandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin returned on the European podium, winning their second bronze medal. They too received personal best scores during the event: 109.48 points for the free dance, and 184.86 overall.
And they might have hit the jackpot with this free dance – to a somehow modern version of “Liebestraum”, one the audience embraced with open arms. And they felt it too, Ivan will acknowledge: “Today there was such a fantastic atmosphere [that] we couldn’t wait to go on the ice”. And you could also sense their pride: “This is not just a local competition, it is the European Championships! So to be in the top three is very cool”.
Those missing out the podium at this year’s edition of the Europeans were Italy’s Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte. Silver medalists for the past three seasons, the Italians offered the audience an impressive story to the music from the movie “La Vita e Bella” – but a botched twizzle right in the start of the free dance would cost them dearly.
In the mixed zone, Anna will be harsh: “Unfortunately, it was definitely the worst competition of the season. We made a mistake at the beginning of the program which doesn’t help concentration for the rest of it. And we had a deduction for what we don’t know. Now we focus on the Olympics, so we’re going to go home and review what we’ve done. Sometimes the toughest competitions teach you the most”.