France’s Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron won their fifth world title after the Free Dance in front of a home crowd at the 2022 World Figure Skating Championships. USA’s Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue performed their last competition to take the silver medal, while teammates Madison Chock and Evan Bates pocketed the bronze.
Papadakis and Cizeron produced an inspiring and career-best (137.09) free dance to “Elegie” by Gabriel Faure which earned very high grades of execution (GOE) in all elements. The excellent twizzles, two lifts, and a spin were graded a level four, while she received a level four on the one-foot steps and he a three. The rotational lift and diagonal steps were both graded a level three as well. With a total score of 229.82, the 2022 Olympic Champions broke yet another record, in addition to their rhythm and free dance, at this event.
“This is one of the most beautiful competitions of our career,” said Cizeron. “We felt incredible support and we are happy with what we’ve done. Honestly, the whole week was amazing being here after the Olympics. The audience is incredible. We haven’t skated in front of such a full audience. It was probably the first time we skated in front of that much crowd, and they made so much noise. It was very emotional.”
“I’m just so grateful and we’re so lucky to have been surrounded by our closest friends here on the podium,” said Papadakis. “I think that’s very rare and it’s what makes it worth it – gold medals, and the event, and the work. I think friendship in the end is what stays.
When asked what message he would give to young skaters, Cizeron said: “Trust your coaches, the people around you. Enjoy every moment, it goes really fast and all of the sudden before you realize it, you are on the top. You want to grab every moment that you can, even if it doesn’t go as planned. There is always something to learn and to love about your journey.”
In their last competition of their career, Hubbell and Donohue gave a emotional performance to “Drowning” by Anne Sila which featured very good twizzles, although his were graded a level three while hers were a four. All three lifts and the dance spin were also graded a level four while the one-foot and circular steps were a level three. In the end, the 2022 Olympic bronze medalists topped their previous best scores from Beijing in both the Free Dance and the Total Score (132.67/222.39).
“We knew that the emotions were very high,” said Hubbell. “We felt it this morning on practice. For many of us the goal was to not get too emotional and hinder the performance right before starting. Some of our friends tried to sabotage us, playing sentimental songs, and Nick (Soerensen) screaming ‘Zack I love you, buddy!’ We also know how to focus and we knew that we wanted to skate our best for each other for our last moment and we found peace in that. We’re just very happy.”
“That’s the mystery, right?” responded Hubbell of what they were saying to each other on the ice after their performance. “For many years we’ve been saying something on the ice that people ask and we had kept it for ourselves – it was always our mantra. So for the last maybe five years, before we skate, we always say and sometimes after, ‘thank you, I’m sorry, please forgive me, I love you.’ It’s something that we created with our coach Stephanie because for us, that encompasses everything that you could possibly need to say to each other no matter what the situation is, and that’s always been our way to kind of find our way to neutral.”
Chock and Bates entertained with their clever “astronaut and alien” routine to music by Daft Punk, producing level-four lifts, twizzles, and combination spin. While the one-foot steps were graded a level three, the diagonal steps received a level two. The two-time Four Continents champions finished third in the free dance and overall (129.32/216.83)
“I feel incredibly emotional,” said Chock. “It was a dream to be able to share that podium with our training mates and to be back on the podium after what feels like a very, very long time. Lots of emotions!”
“We’re coming to Japan on Monday and we’re really looking forward to skating for the public again,” said Bates. “Like today when we had a full crowd here…It was one of the best crowds we’ve ever skated in front of. I can’t remember such a full audience – maybe in three, four years – for an ice dance event. Obviously, the enthusiasm for ice dance is because of what Gabby and Guillaume (Papadakis/Cizeron) have achieved is so strong. We’re so thrilled to take the ice and just bask in that energy, take it all in, and thrilled with the performances we gave to the audience today and yesterday.”
Charlene Guignard and Marco Fabbri of Italy delivered a quality and beautifully executed routine to Atonement, displaying level-four twizzles, spin, and lifts. The circular steps were graded a level three while the one-foot steps were a level two for both ice dancers. The 2022 European bronze medalists placed fourth (125.70) in the free dance and earned a new personal best total score of 209.92 for fourth place overall.
“When you get the highest score at the end of the season, it means you really worked well throughout the entire season,” said Fabbri. “It was very rewarding for us to get our personal best overall at the World Championship after the Olympic Games. It’s been tough for us to go back to the normal routine after the Olympics. We didn’t feel really motivated, especially for the first two weeks. Practicing again and again for another important competition has been tough. So we’re very proud that we kept the focus on this championship and we were able to perform this way at the last event of this season.”
“It was a little bit difficult for us to manage the rhythm dance,” he added of the season in general. “We tried to build a rhythm dance full of movements, steps. Free dance was fine, but the rhythm dance was not really rewarded in competition at the beginning of the season. We worked a lot on it. We were very pleased with our improvement. We didn’t do major changes to the free dance.”
“We’ll try to find another special program,” he said of their free dance for next season. “When you build a special program this year, it will be hard the year after to find a strong program, so we will work on the music selection immediately. We always want to show something new in our program.”
Canada’s Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier gave a mesmerizing routine to “Long and Winding Road” which was highlighted by level-four twizzles, lifts, and dance spin to finish fifth in the free dance and overall (121.91/202.70).
“I think we ended this competition with skates on our terms,” said Poirier. “We felt really strong about our performances. I don’t think the results in the second half of the season were exactly how we wanted them to be, but I think, especially after the free dance skate at the Olympics, we were so proud of our performance today and we had a blast just sharing it with everyone back home. We are so lucky to have the artists of the track (“The Long and Winding Road”) GOVARDO here watching us today, so we’re happy to be able to perform the program for them live.”
“We actually loved it!” said Gilles of skating in front of a crowd. “It was so fun, especially in the warm-up with the French too. To hear that roaring crowd from someone who’s skating at home is something so special and we know that when we skate in Canada.”
“I think for right now we’re focusing on going home and joining the cast of Stars on Ice (Canada) which we are very excited to do again,” she added of their future plans. “We love to perform for people and doing that live will be an honor again. If we’re inspired and we feel like there is more to give…who knows? But we’ll just need to rest and to perform for people.”
Great Britain’s Lilah Fear and Lewis Gibson finished sixth overall (198.17), followed by Olivia Smart and Adrian Diaz (194.63) of Spain, USA’s Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker (191.61), and Laurence Fournier-Beaudry and Nikolaj Sorensen (188.54) of Canada.