Some call him Adam Salto Him Fa. And others call him Adam Slay Him Fa.
Both are fully deserved when looking at this year’s edition of Grand Prix de France.
True, Adam already won the gold medal at this Grand Prix event one year ago, making this feat a repeat.
But this time, it was a battle royale in the men’s event in Angers: Adam Siao Him Fa won gold in an event resembling Worlds, announcing Worlds, previewing Worlds.
In the process, he surpassed 100 points in the short, 200 in the free, and 300 overall, joining an exclusive group of skaters who were able to go that high with their scores.
Another skater that scored over 100-200-300 was the silver medalist in Angers, America’s Ilia Malinin, who rotates in the air as easy as he breathes. In third, trying to make up for the lost season, with a new, fresh approach to the performing aspect of his skating, with Carolina Kostner on his side, was Japan’s Yuma Kagiyama – who moves & glides as easy as he breathes.
In short: the men’s event at the third Grand Prix of the season was one for the ages. And France’s Adam Siao Him Fa established himself as a serious World medal contender five months from now, in Montreal.
by Florentina Tone / photos by Alberto Ponti, Angers
Adam Siao Him Fa seems almost completely changed this season. Taller, faster, smoother – and more and more involved in his performances. And changes were already visible from last season, when he challenged himself with a story in two parts, but he’s now taken his skating to another level.
Our reaction after Adam’s short program to the iconic piece “The Prophet” by Gary Moore?
Did someone give him wings?
Because he literally flied throughout that skate, that proved to be the best short program of his career so far, winning him a season best of 101.07 points.
Whilst in the free, he was a star. A sensational long program, one that set the standards for the season, for Adam himself and for all men wanting that gold medal at Worlds in Montreal next March.
205.71 points, a season best, and 306.78 overall, again a season best.
You could say the Frenchman pulled a surprise victory in Angers, but there wasn’t really one: Adam has really upped his skating entering this season and showed an incredible version of himself.
Where will the journey take him?
First of all, in Chongqing, in China – his second Grand Prix stop, only a week after Angers.
Up until then, there’s this interview with Adam that we can all come back to, done after 2022 Worlds in Montreal, Adam’s debut at Worlds, where the Frenchman finished on the 8th place.
You’ll get to know him better – see where he comes from, and the mindset (of a champion) he has. Plus: you’ll hear him talk about his plans and goals, about the artistic journey he had embarked on for a while, with Benoît Richaud as his trusted choreographer.
Silver medalist in Angers, Ilia Malinin is also in a journey of constantly improving.
His quads look like triples, no, like doubles – that easy, that smooth, that soft – but it’s in the components’ department that he’s made a mission to evolve.
Ilia’s ally, apart from his coaching team, is former ice dancer now famous choreographer Shae-Lynn Bourne, who put together both programs for the American this season: the short program to “Malaguena” and the free, to music from the sountrack of “Succession”.
Yuma Kagiyama? He came back after a season of hiatus, meant to heal his injuries – and he’s taken a precious ally as well: Italy’s Carolina Kostner has joined Yuma’s father in coaching the Olympic silver medalist, and the results are already noticeable: Yuma’s skating seems better than ever.
We’ll say it differently: Yuma’s skating is highly addictive.
The Japanese skates to “Believer” by Imagine Dragons in the short, and to Ezio Bosso’s “Rain, in Your Black Eyes” in the free – but it’s his exhibition program, to music from the opera “Werther”, that left everyone completely spellbound. That kind of (emotional) music adds to Yuma’s skating an additional layer of greatness, made of flying goosebumps.
16-year old Isabeau Levito won the gold medal in Angers, and the first senior Grand Prix title of her career – and she is indeed incredibly talented and a master of gliding and intricacies – but on the free skate day it was Japan’s Rion Sumiyoshi who shone bright, dropped a “casual” quad Toe in the long program, won the segment, and the overall bronze medal.
Belgium’s Nina Pinzarrone came from 4th place after the short to win the silver medal overall, with a free skate that left everyone in amazement: with that level of women’s skating, Belgium has just turned into a skating power.
Another story that had people talking in Angers, with love and admiration, was Wakaba Higuchi’s comeback. We last saw Wakaba at the start of last season, in Bergamo, at 2022 Lombardia Trophy, before announcing she would take a competitive break. And now she’s back – and those eyes of hers, her arms, her posture scream confidence.
#WelcomeBackWakaba, we say it too.
In the ice dancing event at Grand Prix de France in Angers, Italy’s Charlène Guignard and Marco Fabbri won the gold, Canada’s Laurence Fournier Beaudry and Nikolaj Soerensen took silver, while France’s Evgeniia Lopareva and Geoffrey Brissaud finished third (repeating the placement from the same Grand Prix event last season).
PAIRS ON THE RISE
In the pairs’ event in Angers, it was Canada’s Lia Pereira and Trennt Michaud winning the gold medal, their first Grand Prix gold after the silver in Skate America, thus qualifying for the Final in Beijing. Italy’s Sara Conti and Niccolò Macii took silver, while France’s Camille Kovalev and Pavel Kovalev finished third.