2017 Finlandia Trophy in Espoo: the blue dance, the blue dream

We’ll just leave this here: Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron’s free dance is a gem. A true, true gem. And Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata is such a beautiful home for them in the Olympic season – and they are building it with open hearts.

At this year’s edition of Finlandia Trophy in Espoo (October 6-8), the French debuted their new programs internationally – a week after Masters de Patinage, in Villard-de-Lans –, a debut waited hungrily by fans around the world. Because this was not about who’s winning the event – they did that too, among others – but about showing their work to international judges, audience, and getting feed-back in return.

And so this is the illustrated story of Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron’s presence in Espoo, a month before their first Grand Prix assignment (2017 Cup of China) – but we’re also showing you glimpses of the overall dancing event at 2017 Finlandia Trophy. In the final rankings, the French were followed by Russia’s Alexandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin (silver) and Denmark’s Laurence Fournier Beaudry and Nikolaj Sørensen (bronze).

And since this was the first competition of the Olympic season for many of the teams travelling to Finland, a wonderful sense of anticipation surrounded the event – you might even find it visible in Askar Ibragimov’s photos.

by Florentina Tone

For their short dance this season, Gabriella and Guillaume chose Ed Sheeran – or, better said, Christopher Dean, the choreographer, chose Sheeran for them, and they embraced the idea with open arms. “Shape of You” and “Thinking Out Loud” were remastered by Karl Hugo in Montreal – and the result of everyone’s work was visible in Espoo: the French skated with enthusiasm, joy, colours and sparkles – have you seen Gabriella’s dress? – and were awarded 78.09 points, a promising score to begin the Olympic season with.

The first and third movement of Beethoven’s Moonlight SonataAdagio sostenuto and Presto agitato – were put together to create a free dance worthy of the Olympic season; Marie-France Dubreuil choreographed the piece, and ballet dancer Jeffrey Cirio of the American Ballet Theater in New York came to Montreal for touches, details here in there, to enhance the beauty of the program, to better emphasize the beauty of all movements.

Named by Beethoven Sonata quasi una Fantasia and dedicated to his pupil, countess Giulietta Guicciardi, the piece is commonly known under the name of Moonlight Sonata due to a remark made by a German music critic and poet, Ludwig Rellstab – in 1832, Rellstab compared the effect of the first movement of the piece to that of the moonlight shining upon Lake Lucerne in Switzerland.

185 years later, the moonlight shined upon the white surface of Espoo Metro Aarena – and, in spite of an out of the blue fall of Guillaume towards the end of the performance, it amassed admiration, gratitude: that good, that inspired this free dance is.

And allows us a metaphor here, a game of colours even, with Guillaume being the moon and Gabriella, the dark-blue surface of a lake. Even Lake Lucerne, if you want.

In Espoo, in the first Finlandia Trophy of their career, Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron received 110.16 points for their free dance – and, with a combined total of 188.25 points, they deservedly won the gold medal. And a standing ovation – and you don’t get to see that often so early in the season.

The first international competition of the season – and the first gold for Gabriella and Guillaume.

Gabriella and Guillaume, sharing a good moment with their admirers after the medal ceremony – see the tiny hands below?

As in old times – and by old we mean junior years – Gabriella and Guillaume encountered Alexandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin; and the Russians were fierce competitors then, and remained so even now. Their short dance is a combination of Rhumba and Samba – “Espérame en el Cielo”, “L’Ombelico Del Mondo”, “Chandelier”, “Samba Do Brasil” – for which they received 70.27 points, the second program of the day in terms of scores.

As for the free dance, it’s a peculiar combination of the theme from the movie „Love Story”, ”Love’s Dream” by Rick Wakeman and Lizst’s Liebestraum – but one that goes so well with their lyrical, soft style of skating. It’s indeed a soothing, beautiful free dance this one – and you might wanna watch it again and again. Alexandra and Ivan received 96.61 points in Espoo – and the total of 166.88 points won them the silver medal.

”Whatever Lola Wants, Lola Gets…” If you find yourselves mumbling this line, well, you must have watched Laurence Fournier Beaudry and Nikolaj Sørensen’s short dance – and get caught into the story, the air of such a program. And there’s more than “what Lola wants” into this short dance – there is also “Search For the Vulcan” and “Peter Gunn Mambo” – and they do justice to this year’s theme for the SD, Laurence and Nikolaj. Just look at the pictures – plenty of intention, plenty of character. And 65.76 points in Espoo for (a) role so well played.

…and they also chose music with character for the free dance: Spanish music that they interpret so well – remember the Worlds in Shanghai a couple of years ago, when they were 9th after the (Spanish) short dance? Well, they came back to Spanish rhythms for this year’s free dance – and this choice will surely play in their favour. Because with or without going to the Olympics this season, Laurence Fournier Beaudry and Nikolaj Sørensen are a team to watch closely the following years: their progress is remarkable, and their international success isn’t that far. And remember: you read it here first.

In Espoo, Laurence and Nikolaj won the bronze medal, with a total combined score of 158.21 points.

Laurence and Nikolaj, sharing a beautiful moment in Espoo.

All smiles on the podium in Espoo

There’s this wonderful tradition in Espoo: fans knit mittens for their favorites and hand them at the end of the events; look what dancers got at this year’s edition of Finlandia.

4th in Espoo, a pair of debutants on the international stage: Canada’s Carolane Soucisse and Shane Firus, coming from the same school in Montreal as Papadakis/Cizeron and Fournier Beaudry/Sorensen.

In their short dance this season, they skate to music by Enrique Iglesias: ”Bailando”, ”El Perdedor”, ”Let Me Be Your Lover”.

For the free, it’s Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga: ”I Won’t Dance” and „Cheek to Cheek”. Their overall score in Espoo: 154.60 points.

Russia’s Betina Popova and Sergey Mozgov finished this year’s edition of Finlandia Trophy on the 5th place. They skate to Cha Cha, Rhumba and Samba in the short dance…

…while for the free they have chosen the powerful “Carmen Suite” by Georges Bizet – and Betina is a Carmen to the fingertips.

And speaking of convincing characters, Sara Hurtado was born to skate to Spanish music. Literally. She and Kirill Khaliavin chose “Don Quijote” by Leon Minkus for their free dance this season, and Antonio Najarro did a terrific job choreographing the piece.

In Espoo, Sara and Kirill were 6th, with 144.66 points overall – and there’s plenty of room for them to grow. One thing is sure though: the free dance is a joy to the eyes; you almost want to jump from your chair and dance with them. But then again, not everyone can dance like they dance.

Now that’s balm for sore eyes: Shiyue Wang and Xinyu Liu have grown into becoming a wonderful team during recent years – in their SD this season, they skate to “Despacito”…

…but it’s their free dance that highlights their skills: skating to “Over My Shoulder” and “Happy Ending”, they ended the event in Espoo on the 7th place.

8th in Espoo were Lorraine McNamara and Quinn Carpenter, 2016 World Junior champions. In their first season in seniors, they skate to “Mambo Italiano”, “El Perdedor” and “Big Bagz”, while for the free, they chose “Anime Contro Vendo” by Medialuna Tango Project.

Finishing the event in Finland on the 9th place were Great Britain’s Lilah Fear and Lewis Gibson – their short dance this season is set to “Run” by Tiggs Da Author, “Temptation” by Diana Krall and “Maria” by Ricky Martin.

Poland’s Natalia Kaliszek and Maksym Spodyriev were 10th in Espoo. For their short dance, they chose “Despacito”, “Deja Vu”, “Descarga En Sol Para Tito Puente”…

And their free dance is set to „Young and Beautiful”, from the „Great Gatsby” soundtrack, “Swing Break” by The McMash Clan feat. Kate Mullins, “No Dignity” by Minimatic, “Maple Leaf Rag” by Skeewiff feat. Tommy Dorsey.

11th in Espoo, Cecilia Törn and Jussiville Partanen skate to “Sambando” performed by Los Ritmos Calientes, “Con Los Anos Que Me Quedan” performed by Thalia and “Are You Ready?” performed by Alessandro Olivato.

Celia Robledo and Luis Fenero were 12th at this year’s edition of Finlandia Trophy. They skate to Shakira and Antonio Pino in their short dance…

…while the free dance is set to “La Indeditad Inaccesible” by Alberto Iglesias, “Por El Amor De Amar” by Bulka and “Poeta En El Mar” by Vincente Amigo. And we’ll give them a special prize for their costumes.

Great Britain’s Jennifer Urban and Benjamin Steffan finished the event on the 13th place – for their free dance, they chose “Little Drop Of Poison” by Rebekka Bakken, “Love Is The Drug” by Brian Ferry, “These Foolish Things” by Emmy Rossum, “Crazy In Love” by Emeli Sande.

A glimpse of the colourful free dance of Nichole Kuzmichová and Alexandr Sinicyn, to music from the movie “Cabaret” – they were 14th in Espoo.

Red rhumba from France’s Lorenza Alessandrini and Pierre Souquet – they finished the event on the 16th place.

…and a final photo, of Estonia’s Katerina Bunina and German Frolov, 19th in Espoo. And this is a glimpse of their short dance this season, to “Batacuda” performed by Mitoca Samba, “Eres todo en mi” by Ana Gabriel, “Let’s Get Loud” by Jennifer Lopez.


2017 Finlandia Trophy: the butterflies

2017 Finlandia Trophy: beauty, strength, elegance on the ladies’ podium in Espoo