Virtue & Moir Win the Short Dance
Virtue & Moir claim the advantage with Papadakis & Cizeron brought down by a wardrobe malfunction; Hubbell & Donohue take an extremely narrow third.
Four years ago, Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir, reigning Olympic Champions, failed to defend their title, losing the gold to Meryl Davis & Charlie White. When both teams pulled out of the World Championships right after, it was assumed they were both retiring. But while Davis & White didn’t come back, two years later Virtue & Moir did, arriving on a scene in which Gabriella Papadakis & Guillaume Cizeron had taken over and claimed dominance while they were away.
At the big competitions last season, Papadakis & Cizeron made mistakes all three times they went up against Virtue & Moir. So the Canadian team claimed easy wins, and also showed themselves to be even better than they’d been, and when they’d already been one of the best teams of their age. But the unexpected competition drove the already magnificent French team to also improve further. When the two teams finally had a proper face off at the Grand Prix Final in December, Papadakis & Cizeron were triumphant.
Below them, the bronze medal went to Maia & Alex Shibutani, who’d also won it at the two big competitions last year, and naturally were the favorites for it here. But there were five more teams who were also seen as having a chance at it, one of whom had even beaten the Shibutanis as U.S. Nationals in January.
Virtue & Moir Perfect, Papadakis & Cizeron Not
It wasn’t the cleanest of nights for everyone. But it was for Virtue & Moir. They delivered the most electric, most chock-full, and most technically refined routine of the night, making art beyond what most of the couples present could do. Their opening step sequence didn’t even feel like a technical element so much as a real easy dance. They maxed out the possible score for it, and came close on a couple of other elements, all of which were marked level 4. All but one judge gave them as least one ten in the presentation scores, and two gave them four.
Papadakis & Cizeron, on the other hand, opened with a wardrobe malfunction when her collar broke, and her top started slipping down. She carried on as gamely as could be, and in the opening section of the dance especially, when it wasn’t too bad, they might have even pumped the ice up more the Virtue & Moir had. They too maxed out their steps, and came close in their opening rumba. But their twizzles went off as things took their toll, including on their step sequence level. The judges were a little lenient on them, but they still came in nearly two points behind the Canadians. Against Virtue & Moir most teams couldn’t hope to make that gap up. It won’t be easy even for them, though they are capable of it.
Surprise Third Place Hold Off Field by Two Hundredths
It was very much the 2017 World Championships all over again; Madison Hubbell & Zachary Donohue were once again the surprise third place after the short. With a technical tariff higher than Papadakis & Cizeron’s and aggressive and flawless execution, they skated about as well as they could hope for. Skating pretty similarly were the Shibutanis, but they got hit with a level 2 for their rumba pattern, and had the lowest tariff of the top five. Blasting through everything as if it was nothing made up most of the gap, but when the numbers crunched together, Hubbell & Donohue led by two hundredths of a point.
A little less than a point behind them, Anna Cappellini & Luca Lanotte were a mild surprise for fourth place. Angered by their scores from the team event, the Italians went guns blazing through their routine, from the strong twizzles onward. Their technique in the rumba and steps kept their score from being as high as it otherwise might have been, but they still had over a point on the rest of the field.
Also two hundredths of a point apart were Ekaterina Bobrova & Dmitri Soloviev in sixth and Madison Chock & Evan Bates in seventh. For the most part both these teams were clean, although Bates was wobbly on the tail end of their twizzles. The Russian team were a little weaker on their elements in general, though, and only two level 4s results in a big hit to their technical tariff. They were only as high as they were because of generous presentation marks from the judges, while Chock & Bates’ were the lowest of the top eight.
Poor Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Pojé may have lost their medal chances to their short dance, just like they did four years ago. Their rumba was weaker than the rest, and they barely got the twizzles out without having major issues. Their technical tariff was also the lowest of the top eight, and they didn’t quite perform well enough to counter that. They’re over a point behind Chock & Bates and nearly three and a half points out of third. It’s not impossible they could shoot over everyone to win bronze tomorrow, but it’s very unlikely.
Gilles & Poirier and Coomes & Buckland Round Out Top Ten
The technical panel was not kind to the third Canadian team either. Piper Gilles & Paul Poirier had a level two rumba and only one level four. To get their way up even to ninth, they had to performed with about as much fluidity and chemistry as they had in them, their execution of the elements much better than that. This managed to keep them ahead of Penny Coomes & Nicolas Buckland by about a point, even though the British team, while not having the highest tariff themselves, still had one over a point higher. It also helped that Coomes & Buckland had trouble with the twizzles themselves, not quite being in sync at the start of them.
Coomes & Buckland themselves were lucky Charlene Guignard & Marco Fabbri had even more trouble with their twizzles, with him actually putting his foot down. Combined with a weak rumba, and their tariff was the same as Gilles & Poirier. And they didn’t have the level of performance that could make up for that. It nearly did on the British team, but Coomes & Buckland held on to tenth over them by two tenths of a mark.
View full results here. The free dance concludes Tuesday morning.