Delobel and Schoenfelder maintain lead in Paris
In the final event of the day, the ice dancers took to the ice for the second time for the Original Dance. The Original Dance for this season is “Rhythms of the 20s, 30s and 40s”.
Italy’s Federica Faiella and Massimo Scali won the Original Dance with a smooth and entertaining performance to Follow the Fleet in which both skaters dressed as sailors. The team tried really hard to get into the carefree and exuberant style of their dance, executing level three step sequences and twizzles and a level four spin and rotational lift.
“We want to start with the first Grand Prix as strong as we can, and I think we did a good job,” commented Scali. “We couldn’t wait to start the season, because we were so excited with our new programs. We have so much fun in the Original Dance. We enjoy this rhythm and this dance.”
Most of their moves were nicely stylized to fit the upbeat style of the music. The Italian Champions scored 55.79 points to finish first in this portion of competition, but remain in second place overall with 90.25 points in total.
“We are excited with our new Original Dance and we really enjoy the freedom,” said Scali, “but we also love our Free Dance. We can’t wait to compete tomorrow.”
Sinead Kerr and John Kerr of Great Britain finished second with 55.52 points and are currently third overall (87.84 points). The Finlandia Trophy Champions presented one of the most authentic Original Dances of the competition, picking up a rather unusual rhythm for their routine – a lindy-hop. The lightning fast and energetic program played up to their strengths, outgoing personalities, and excellent presentation skills, allowing them at the same time to cover their weakest point – their lines, in the barrage of fast beat movements.
“I think we danced better here than at Skate America,” said Sinead Kerr at the press conference. “We were more relaxed even though we didn’t get such high scores. It’s a great atmosphere here in France. It was a pleasure.”
The only element to receive a level four in their program was the dance spin while all others received level three. The dancers also narrowly avoided a collision during their twizzle sequences.
“We possibly did not fulfill all requirements for levels,” commented John Kerr, “but I think the performance was better than the one in U.S.”
The brother-and-sister team’s routine was inspired by the swing movies they saw. “In the movies they move about ten times as fast as we do, so we tried to match them,” said Sinead Kerr. “Unfortunately, our coach also saw the movies, so he has always been pushing us to go faster and faster. But I think it was good for us.”
France’s Isabelle Delobel and Olivier Schoenfelder retained their lead despite a far from clean Original Dance. Both their spin and their twizzle sequences were downgraded to level one due to errors, and even though the skaters tried to put those mistakes behind them, the overall impression was marred.
“I don’t know what to say,” said Schoenfelder. “We are disappointed with the way we skated. Maybe we were too excited. We tried to make an exciting dance and we go into the dance sure that we can give pleasure to the judges and to the audience, but the technical level was quite horrible today. The marks are correct, we won’t complain about them. Congratulations to other teams. We will skate much better tomorrow.”
Despite the mistakes, it was fairly obvious that the 2008 World Champions are the strongest couple in the field and their choreography, based on the theme of young American nurse meeting an elder French veteran, also works well for the couple. However, with one of the lowest technical scores of the night, they finished only third in the Original Dance scoring 55.23 points and have 93.21 points overall.
Vanessa Crone and Paul Poirier of Canada moved up one spot after finishing fourth in the Original Dance with 52.71 points. The team is currently tied with the Italians in the highest technical score of the night due to three level four elements, but their non-touching midline step sequence only received a level 2.
The World Junior silver medalist’s dance was also one of the best adaptations of period dances. The team chose an earlier time period than most of other couples, setting their program to Scott Joplin’s ragtimes, and their choreography makes great use of the distinctive style of movements typical for the period. The skaters also appear natural as they express the light-hearted character of the program, and even the most traditional elements, such as the spin and twizzles, were modified to suit the mood. They are currently fourth overall with 84.46 points.
Pernelle Carron and Mathieu Jost of France slipped to fifth place after both their step sequences received only a level 2. The team from Lyon had a strong start in their routine to Basin Street Blues, excelling in both skating skills and expression, but as the program progressed, they began to fall out character in places. The French silver medalists scored 52.22 points for the Original Dance and have 83.99 points going into Free Dance.
Kristin Frazer and Igor Lukanin of Azerbaijan finished sixth in in the Original Dance and overall with an absolutely hilarious program to St. Louis Blues in which they portrayed an elderly couple – complete with gray hair and fake eye glasses. The experienced couple scored 49.94 points and now have 79.99 points total.
In seventh place are Russia’s Ekaterina Rubleva and Ivan Shefer, followed by USA’s Jennifer Wester and Daniil Barantsev.
The event continues with the Free Dance, Men’s Long Program, Ladies’ Long Program, and the Pairs’ Long Program.