2018 Winter Olympics: Figure Skating News
Canada’s Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir took the lead after the Short Dance in Pyeongchang at the 2018 Olympics on Monday, after breaking their own record for the highest scoring Short Dance. Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France are in a close second followed by USA’s Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue.
Virtue and Moir put out a confident and fluid dance that was highlighted by their level 4 midline non-touching step sequence which received +3 grades of execution (GOE) across the board. The 2010 Olympic gold medalists met all key points in their pattern, as well as earning a level 4 on all other elements, and broke their own record for the highest Short Dance with 83.67 points. An elated Moir skated to the Kiss and Cry and dived onto the padded boards.
“That’s something we are really proud of,” said Moir of their score. “That is every athlete’s goal here and to come out and do the best you can. And to do it on this stage, we’re really, really proud of that. We know our work isn’t over. It’s a long event. The biggest chunk is tomorrow and we have to stay on our game.”
“I think there is something about taking time away and gaining perspective,” added Virtue. “Also it’s a testament to our team in Montreal and our coaches Marie-France (Dubreuil) and Patrice (Lauzon). They really set us up for this moment. We are so prepared and we are savoring every bit of it.”
“We always try to focus on our skates and I think it’s more a message to ourselves,” said Moir of sending a message regarding the sport. “We were very proud of ourselves in the team event and we had consistent skates and we left a little bit in the tank for this event. We really want to win this individual gold. It’s a really deep field and we have to really be on our game. The Americans are so strong, the French are so strong and we even have a Canadian in the mix. We just have to keep going and keep plugging away. It’s a two-day event.”
Papadakis and Cizeron experienced a costume mishap at the beginning of their dance which became distracting and affected their effected technical execution throughout the routine.
“It was difficult,” said Papadakis. “It’s the first time that something like that happened. I tried to stay focused and finish without anything (else) happening.”
The team also had problems with spacing on their level 4 twizzle sequence, however, they still earned positive GOEs and met all key points on their pattern as well. The two-time World champions finished a close second with 81.93 points.
“It was a great performance considering the costume issue,” said Cizeron. “That is not something you get ready for in your mind when you start the program. It is hard to stay focused. We did not expect that when we started the program.”
“We are not extremely disappointed,” he added, “but we could have done better without that problem.”
The team doesn’t seem to be too concerned with their placement after the short dance.
“Two points can be caught up,” noted Cizeron. “If we can do our best, we have chances to win. We have to stay focused and look forward. Tomorrow is a new day and we’ll do our best as always.”
Hubbell and Donohue showed good speed and power in their short dance, which featured fast level 3 twizzles. The team met all key points of their pattern and scored a new personal best of 77.75 for third place for their sophisticated routine.
“It was such an emotional day for me, trying to let in that gratitude of being here and also be strong,” said Hubbell. “I am really looking forward to going back out there tomorrow. I was so busy being focused, it was hard to really enjoy it. I am looking forward to being back on the ice for the free dance.”
“Are we allowed to use the word ‘terrifying?'” asked Donohue when asked about their Olympic debut. “It’s a huge moment!”
“It took us a while to get here, but we’re strong and we’re here to fight,” he said of their third-place finish. “We had a big goal coming into this because it was our first time.”
The ice dancers have really tried to stay focused throughout the season knowing that they weren’t going to take “not making the Games as an option.”
“We decided to treat every competition as a first to make sure we were open and experiencing everything it could be and to learn from it,” explained Donohue. “And here on the ice we decided we were going to stay in the moment and enjoy everything we worked hard for. And now that we have set ourselves up and are in a great place to fight tomorrow, we are looking forward to bringing out even more in ourselves.”
USA’s Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani delivered a sharp and polished routine, however, their pattern was only graded a level 2. Their routine was otherwise highlighted by stellar level 4 twizzles. They were clearly pleased at the end of their short dance in which they placed fourth (77.73).
“That was the Olympic performance we were looking for,” said Maia Shibutani. “After the team event, we feel so much more confident. Going out there, we just wanted to enjoy it, and it was even better than we skated last week. It’s the Olympics. You’re going to be a little nervous, but at the end of the day, I know that I’m out there with Alex and we just really trust and believe in each other and in ourselves.”
“I haven’t had a chance to analyze everything,” said Alex Shibutani, “but right now, I feel really proud of how we did. The score is better than in the team event and I just felt that the performance was so natural. We had a lot of fun out there.”
“It’s an awesome program and I think that we surprised many people with our ability to perform the Latin rhythm,” he said of their short dance. “It’s been so much fun for us, because we are able to show our personality. We’ve always had the technical goods, so it’s really nice to package all that into such an awesome performance, especially here at the Olympics.”
The team is riding high after the team event and the short dance are looking forward to the free dance tomorrow.
“Since the team event, we’ve made a lot of improvement,” Alex Shibutani reiterated. “We feel really good and we’re enjoying this right now, but we’ll turn our attention to the free dance.”
Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte of Italy put out an engaging performance which featured strong level 4 twizzles and rotational lift. The 2014 World champions also met all key points on their pattern and scored a new personal best of 76.57 points for fifth place.
Today was a special day for Cappellini as she turned 31.
“Fortunately, I can celebrate it with my friends and my husband (Ondrej Hotarek, ITA) who is also here,” she said. “So it’s kind of special. We want to cherish the Olympic Games, because as an athlete it’s going to be the last time.”
This makes the third Olympic outing for the Italians, who placed 12th in 2010 and sixth in 2014.
“The first time it was getting to know the experience of the Olympics, which can be quite overwhelming,” said Cappellini. “It’s a very big thing. It’s so much bigger than a world championship, which is already big enough. In the second Olympics, we may have been overly focused and overly worried about it, but this time we wanted to give the best of ourselves. We let in a little bit more of the Olympic experience. So far it’s been working well.”
“We are trying to live this Olympic Games as adults,” said Lanotte. “The last Olympic Games in Sochi we were very worried about it. We couldn’t really live it fully. The first Olympic Games we were at, we lived it like kids. We weren’t really believing what was going on because everything was so big, it was out of our reach. But this time we are taking a mature approach.”
“We will be in the last group in the Olympics tomorrow,” he added. “We want to fight for a medal and we want to be among the best. We stayed in it for a reason, to show that we are that couple. I think today we showed it again how we performed and we hope to do well in the free dance.”
Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev (OAR) showed good control and speed throughout their short dance, which was highlighted by strong level 3 non-touching diagonal steps and a level 4 rotational lift. The seven-time Russian champions currently sit in sixth place (75.47).
“We are very happy with our performance,” said Bobrova. “The coaches were happy and we got a higher score than in the team event.”
“In the team event we skated more freely,” she explained. “I was more nervous today. We skated really well in the team event and wanted to skate even better today. We had to stay focused not to make any mistake.”
“Everything will be decided tomorrow,” said Soloviev. “Today, everyone had to skate clean. The main battle is to come tomorrow (in the free dance). The scores are close. The two top teams have set themselves apart, obviously, but the battle for third place will be very close.”
“We showed what we are capable of,” he added, regarding the free dance. “Tomorrow we can do better. We have an amazing free dance. It comes out of our soul. Tomorrow it will be very interesting.”
USA’s Madison Chock and Evan Bates had a stumble during their 30-second warm-up, but Chock claims the adrenaline helped any pain she may have had.
“It was a bit sore after the five-minute warm-up and it’s the same way that my foot got injured in the beginning of the summer,” she said. “It’s an injury I have been dealing with all season and it just so happens, that it happened the same way on the same foot (the right foot),” explained Chock. “It is an osteochondral lesion—a fancy word for a piece of loose bone fragment in the joint where the top bone meets the foot bone in the ankle. But I have been managing it well all season and that just gave it a little shock. It was a good fight and I think we skated it really well. We’re so happy regardless of the scores and how I may have felt after the warm-up.”
In the short dance, the 2018 U.S. bronze medalists had a loss of balance on their final twizzle, but the team played off each other and gave a strong performance which included a difficult curve lift to score 75.45 for seventh place.
“We were really happy with our performance,” said Chock. “We made some changes to our program since the national championships. I think we debuted it very well. We were happy to put out a good skate.”
“I think our main goal here is to tell our story,” said Bates. “The message of our free dance is one of peace and hope. The message that we felt is resounding throughout these Games—seeing North and South Korea marching under a unified flag, having Imagine play at the Opening Ceremony. It is so telling what the world is desiring to hear right now. That’s the message we are going to deliver tomorrow.”
Both skaters are excited to be competing at their second Winter Olympics.
“It is so special,” said Bates. “This event is a dream for any athlete to participate in. The Olympic creed says, ‘It’s not about winning, it’s about taking part and trying your best.’ It’s a beautiful motto for any sportsman to follow. We are so thrilled to be on center ice and to show the world what we can do.”
Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje of Canada finished eighth (74.33). The team met all key points in their pattern and displayed an incredible level 4 curve lift with many changes of positions at the end of their routine.
“We tried to go there and really soak in the environment and the energy that is the Olympics,” said Poje. “It’s an amazing experience to be part of the team here and the great environment of all the athletes. We had fun out there.”
“I think we are more mature, more calm this time,” said Weaver regarding their second outing at the Games. “We understand what the Olympics are all about. The first time was so exciting and you are trying to take it all in like a child. Now we have a job to do and we know we are going to do that job and then we can have fun after, which is awesome. We shared a moment on Olympic ice and that is the greatest gift of all.”
Teammates Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier delivered a playful, yet solid routine, complete with costume change, to finish ninth (69.60).
Penny Coomes and Nicholas Buckland of Great Britain currently round out the top 10 teams. (68.36).
The event will conclude tomorrow with the Free Dance.