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Gilles and Poirier add Four Continents gold to collection

by Paula Slater
Akiko Ichimori

Gilles and Poirier add Four Continents gold to collection

(L-R) Laurence Fournier Beaudry/Nikolaj Soerensen (CAN), Piper Gilles/Paul Poirier (CAN) and Christina Carreira/Anthony Ponomarenko (USA) pose with their medals at the 2024 Four Continents Figure Skating Championships.

2024 Four Continents Figure Skating Championships: Ice Dance

Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier of Canada secured their first Four Continents title in Shanghai, China, on Sunday. This is their fourth medal at this event, adding gold to their two silvers (2014 and 2020) and bronze (2019). Teammates Laurence Fournier Beaudry and Nikolaj Soerensen repeated as silver medalists, while USA’s Christina Carreira and Anthony Ponomarenko took their second bronze.

Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier

The 2023 World bronze medalists put out a smooth, yet difficult rhythm dance set to “No More I Love You’s” and “Addicted to Love.”  The midline steps were strong and graded a level three with +4.03 grades of execution (GOE). Their performance was highlighted by level-four twizzles and rotational lift, and they finished first with 85.49 points.

“We came into this competition with the goal not to hold anything back,” said Gilles. “We made some changes since the Grand Prix Final, now it’s starting to settle in. We reminded ourselves that we are champions, we won many events, we can rely on ourselves and that’s what we should do.”

“It’s great to have competed here in China three times,” added Poirier. “It was kind of a surprise to see people with banners and cheering for us that much when we came here for the Cup of China. Our work communicates with people. We can build a connection with the fans. That’s the most special part about coming here three times this season.”

The overnight leaders skated put out a magnificent and emotional free dance to Wuthering Heights. The twizzles, lifts and spin were all graded a level four. The one-foot steps received a level three while the diagonal steps warranted a level two. All element received very high GOEs and the three-time Canadian champions placed first in the free dance and overall (128.87/214.36).

“I think we’re really pleased,” said Poirier. “It’s such a big milestone in our career, so I think we’re really proud of ourselves to be able to win a competition of this caliber at this point in our careers. I think we’re really proud of the way we skated. This week, we really believed in ourselves. We were present in both programs, and we skated like the champions that we are. So, I think more than anything, that’s what we’re going to take. This is how we felt while we skated.”

“I think we knew how solid of a performance we’d put down,” added Gilles. “I felt like we were both thinking through the whole performance to make sure that we were stepping together and moving together. I almost enjoy those performances more because it keeps us more present than getting so lost in the performance. And I think we really took our time and we enjoyed it, and by the time we finished we both were relieved and ecstatic.”

Laurence Fournier Beaudry and Nikolaj Soerensen

The 2023 Canadian champions put out a strong rhythm dance to music from Top Gun, placing second with 82.02 points. They showed very good balance in their difficult level-four lift, but Soerensen lost a level on the twizzles and diagonal steps.

“We wanted to skate to Top Gun for so many years,” said Soerensen. “We love to skate to character pieces. We decided on this pretty much right away when we heard the motto was the 80s. It’s always a pleasure to be in China.”

“We had great performances here, great memories,” added Fournier Beaudry. “The preparation coming here was good. We are at the point of the season where the program works. You can really work on the small details and that’s fun!”

Last year’s silver medalists gave a strong and emotional routine to selections from Notre Dame de Paris. The twizzles were graded a level three and four, while the one-foot and diagonal steps received a three and two. The dance spin and all three lifts garnered a level four, and the team earned a new season’s best for second place in the free dance and overall (125.52/207.54).

“We really felt free today and it was super fun to just perform,” said Fournier Beaudry. “I think we stepped up this week and we just will have a lot of motivation back home to build up towards worlds. By putting our focus on each competition, I think we really did the job that we had to do.”

“We have been really building on this program and doing such a wonderful performance with a lot of emotion,” added Soerensen. “It was just really a big relief and a huge pleasure for us. For the worlds, it’s just really special for us training in Montreal and spending so much time skating on the ice rink at the Bell Centre. It’s like a legendary ice rink for anybody that lives in Montreal.”

Christina Carreira and Anthony Ponomarenko

The 2022 Four Continents bronze medalists showed good chemistry in their Stevie Nicks rhythm dance to “Whole Lotta Trouble” and “Edge of Seventeen.” However, the twizzles were only graded a level three and she lost a level on the midline steps. However, the level-four curve lift received positive GOES and they finished with a new season’s best of 77.47 points.

“Nationals last week was an amazing experience, but we felt like we still have something left,” said Carreira. “Last week’s performances felt really safe, so this week we wanted to go out and attack a little bit more and really dance through our program. We think we did that today. It was a step-up from last week.”

“Being here as U.S. ‘number one’ doesn’t change our job,” added Ponomarenko. “We just want to go out there and give our very best. And we did that today.”

Carreira changed her dress, stating they wanted something that was “a little bit less flowy.”

“It gives a fresh touch to the program, and I feel great going out there performing in this dress,” she explained.

The 2024 U.S. silver medalists put out an expressive and suspenseful free dance, placing fifth with 116.67 points. Their intense performance was highlighted by their level-four lifts and dance spin, however Carreira lost two levels on the twizzles. Nevertheless, with total score of 194.14, they maintained third place overall.

The team was very happy with how the week went, despite leaving some points on the table. They’ve made changes to both programs and feel they are going in the right direction.

“The last time we were on the podium at Four Continents was only two years ago, but a lot has happened since then,” Ponomarenko said. “Directly after those championships, I had my ankle surgery and I hit some of the lowest lows that I’ve ever had in my life. So being back here and having those two years of growth with Christina and the rest of our coaching team, it’s a big significant moment.”

Emilea Zingas and Vadym Kolesnik

Emilea Zingas and Vadym Kolesnik placed fourth (75.76) in with a sharp rhythm dance in their debut at this event. Their entertaining routine featured a sharp level-two step sequence and level-four stationary lift. Both ice dancers earned a level four on the twizzles and were energetic throughout.

“We feel pretty proud!” said Zingas. “We had a crazy last two weeks.”

Her partner said it was a big step for them to be at this event and that the result was not their focus.

“We just want to go out there and give everything we can,” said Kolesnik.

The team was notified that they would be competing after Madison Chock and Evan Bates bowed out.

“We finished the exhibition at US Nationals,” recalled Kolesnik. “We were in the car home, a three-hour drive. I stopped at McDonalds because, hey, it was the end of the season, and I thought I deserved a McFlurry. And right then I got a call from our coaches that we have a flight the next morning.”

“This event is a great bonus, and we feel we are just at the beginning of our partnership,” said Zingas. “I am excited how our journey will continue the next years and how we will be able to grow.”

The 2023 Golden Spin of Zagreb silver medalists displayed lots of energy and character in their dramatic routine to music from The Beauty and the Beast. They picked up a new personal best of 117.31 for fourth place in the free dance and overall (193.07). The new produced level-four twizzles, lifts and spin.

“I feel good!” said Zingas. “We came here after disappointing nationals and wanted to get redemption.”

Kolesnik admitted to feeling a bit of pressure today.

“I wanted to give everything in this free dance,” he explained. “I wanted to skate it one last time how it deserves to be skated. Igor (Shpilband) told me I should enjoy this last performance of this free dance and do what I want to do and not be so much in my head.”

“This was actually the third free dance we constructed this season,” said Zingas. “The other two were great, but there had been something missing for us. So, we picked this to portrait clear characters, something we hadn’t done yet in the past. It evolved a lot actually over the season. This is actually the 39th version of our music. There were adjustments for steps and stuff like that. It’s a special program because we share a lot of happy moments in it, and it shows our love for the sport well.”

Marie-Jade Lauriault and Romain Le Gac

Marie-Jade Lauriault and Romain Le Gac placed seventh (71.26) in the rhythm dance. The 2024 Canadian silver medalists received a two-point deduction for an illegal move on their rotational lift in their routine to music by INXS.

“We are very happy with the skate,” said Lauriault. “From our side, it couldn’t have gone much better.”

“About the lift where we got a deduction, we knew it was a tricky lift,” she explained. “I am upside down and the legs need to be open a minimum 45 degrees according to the rules. We need to work on this more it seems.”

“We were here six years ago at the Shanghai Trophy,” added le Gac. ” It’s super nice to come back here to this amazing place. We always enjoy performing our free dance. It’s really unique. We want to showcase our love to the program and show the characters. That’s the goal for tomorrow.”

The 2023 CS Budapest Trophy silver medalists gave a good performance with their interpretive free dance to music from the Corpse Bride. Their clever routine was highlighted by the opening choreographic spin and level-four rotational-stationary lift. They also picked up a level four on the straightline lift and dance spin, earning a new personal best of 119.57. The team finished third in the free dance and rose up to fifth overall (190.83).

“It feels really good!” said Lauriault. “I was pretty calm all week, but a bit more stressed today. But I am happy with how it went, and we were able to enjoy today’s performance. We have an amazing team around us that helped us in many different ways to get into the characters and we are very thankful to them. We love to get into the characters of Corpse Bride!”

“Yesterday morning we received sad news that someone very close to our hearts passed away,” she added. “We were glad we could take the day yesterday to honor his memory. It was good that day was off. Today we were then excited to perform our free dance.”

Caroline Green and Michael Parsons

Caroline Green and Michael Parsons were fifth (75.37) after the rhythm dance to music by the Scorpions. The 2023 Cup of China bronze medalists lost a level on the pattern steps, which was graded a level one. The midline steps were a level two, and the twizzles were a level four and three. The straightline lift scored a level four and they earned positive GOEs on all elements.

“We were well prepared,” said Parsons. “We knew that we would come here after nationals, so the quick turnaround was expected. We did what we could. Not the score we wanted, but we felt good about the skate today.”

“It was a good experience,” said Green. “We felt good energy from the crowd. It’s always great to travel around the world and represent our country. It’s been great to come back here after performing in China earlier already this season.”

The 2022 Four Continents champions gave a smooth and modern free dance set to music by Gideon Freudmann. Their routine featured level-four twizzles and lifts and they took a season’s best of 115.16, placing sixth in the free dance and overall (190.53).

“It felt much better today,” said Parsons. “We gave everything we had, everything felt really good. In case this was the last FD of the season for us we are ready to go home and will be much better next year with more preparation.”

“I am happy how we managed to stay mentally and emotionally present,” added Green. “It’s always hard after two long, long weeks. I am glad we could enjoy ourselves on the ice.”

Parsons said that next season they want to concentrate on what makes them a “strong team” and “show something” that represents their strengths.

“We have a really strong and supportive team around as and we have a pretty good plan, so I think we are really well prepared for a sharp off-season,” Green agreed.

South Korea’s Hannah Lim and Ye Quan placed seventh (182.78) overall followed by Misato Komatsubara and Tim Koleto of Japan (182.70).

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