Golden Skate

Delobel and Schoenfelder win another gold in Paris

Isabelle Delobel and Oliver Schoenfelder of France won the Free Dance with their routine to Pink Floyd's The Great Gig in the Sky.

Isabelle Delobel and Olivier Schoenfelder of France won another Trophée Eric Bompard title with a touching performance to Pink Floyd’s The Great Gig in the Sky. Technically the dance was quite disappointing as the skaters received a level two for their combination spin and both step sequences, as well as only a level three for the twizzle sequence and rotational lift. However, the overall quality of their skating and choreography really set them apart from the rest of the field.

Since most of the low levels were due to rule infractions rather than actual mistakes (expect for Schoenfelder’s stumble at the end of a midline step sequence), they did not distract from the overall impression of the program and the team scored 91.60 for the Free Dance and 184.81 overall.

In contrast to the upbeat Original Dance, their Free Dance is melancholic and introspective, which is apparently exactly the way the skaters envisioned the dance.

“The theme of the program is our life,” explained Delobel. “After the World Championships, we had to decide if we wanted to continue or not, and the program is a reflection of it. It starts with ‘yes’, then ‘no’, then ‘yes’ again and it ends with an explosive ‘yes’!”

Her partner admitted what it was a hard competition for them: “It was hard to skate today after yesterday,” confessed Schoenfelder. “We wanted to savor the competition and wanted to show that we are ready to fight again for the World title. The step sequences are not ready yet. Maybe we have to change something and we have to skate cleaner. The way we built it is ok – we just have to work on it (step sequences) and it will be good for the Grand Prix Final.”

Federica Faiella and Massimo Scali of Italy finished second in Free Dance (89.33 points) and overall (179.58 points). For this season, the team has prepared a very unusual free dance set to Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata. It explores the theme of Commedia dell’Arte (the comedy of artists) in which Pierrot is a character traditionally associated with the moon.

“I think the hardest thing about our Free Dance is to find a way to get into it and to skate with strong emotions,” said Scali. “It’s a story about a sad man who is in love with a moon and that’s the reason we took Moonlight Sonata – it’s a sad feeling we have to live inside us during the skating.

The dance flowed perfectly from one element to the next, and the team has showed a marked improvement in confidence and expression as they carried the feelings of loneliness and detachment perfectly throughout the entire piece.

For the first performance in front of international judges, the Italian Champion’s levels of difficulty were quite good. They only received one level 2 on a serpentine lift as they didn’t hold the position long enough. All other elements were level 3 (step sequences) and 4.

“We are very happy about our performance tonight,” said Scali. “We are really happy we found this connection and feeling about each other tonight. It was much better than yesterday. It’s a first silver medal for us, so we’re happy and it’s the first Grand Prix for us this year so there is more pressure. We know the program is great and we were ready, so we wanted to show we’re ready and better than last year. It was a good beginning.”

Great Britain’s Sinead Kerr and John Kerr finished third to win the second Grand Prix event bronze medal this season. The couple from Scotland chose the music by “The Muse” rock band for their Free Dance and built their dance around the idea of survivors who offer each other the support. The skaters were able to convey that peculiar mixture of desperation and hope perfectly, and on an emotional level it was one of the most intense performances of the night. Technically it was also quite strong, but one of the lifts received only a level 2 and the combination spin and both step sequences were graded level 3.

“It’s a like a love story, but of a family,” explained John Kerr. “You come from a place of disaster, and the brother and sister help each other. First I’m helping her and then at the end she helps me – hence all those moves where she is supporting me. We hope we managed to pass the idea across.”

“I think we felt like we performed our routine better than at Skate America or Finlandia (Trophy),” added Sinead Kerr. “It has developed and grown and just become better and better. I think one of the important things for us today was just to feel a connection between each other, and our coach told us not just to think about the elements, but to just go out and skate the routine and feel the music and show how much our skating has developed this season.”

Vanessa Crone and Paul Poirier of Canada finished fourth in the Free Dance, posting the highest technical score of the night, and fourth overall (171.49 points). The 2008 Skate Canada silver medalists received a level three only for the step sequences and combination spin. Their dance to the music of Doce de Coco was lovely, however, compared to the top three performances, seemed to lack sophistication and emotional impact. Nevertheless all their elements were well executed and well choreographed to fit the general theme and flow of the program. The team earned a new personal best of 87.03 points for their routine.

Performing to Butterflies and Hurricanes by The Muse, France’s Pernelle Carron and Mathieu Jost finished fifth in the Free Dance and overall (166.84 points). Their dance was quite a departure from the touching Nocturne they did a year ago, but compared to the Kerrs, their dance seemed to lack poignancy and a sense of purpose. They were, however, technically strong – gaining a level four on all their elements except for two step sequence which received a level 2. They received 82.85 points.

Russia’s Ekaterina Rubleva and Ivan Shefer from Russia finished sixth in Free Dance, but remained seventh overall. The 2008 Russian silver medalists delivered a sharp and passionate dance to Spanish guitar tunes, highlighting their newly improved power and confidence. The team, however, received only a level 2 on their curve lift and circular step sequence to score 80.00 points, but with 156.84 points total, finished behind Azerbaijan’s Kristin Frazer and Igor Lukanin (158.53 points).

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