Home Figure Skating News Gilles and Poirier win first Cup of China title

Gilles and Poirier win first Cup of China title

by Paula Slater
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Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier

Canada’s Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier rebounded on Saturday to win their first Cup of China in Chongqing on November 11, 2023.

2023 Cup of China: Ice Dance

Canada’s Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier won their first Cup of China title in their first appearance at this event on Saturday in Chongqing. This was their second consecutive Grand Prix win this season and they will be heading to Beijing next month for the Grand Prix Final. Teammates Marjorie Lajoie and Zachary Lagha were right on their heels, just under two points, and picked up the second Grand Prix silver of the season. USA’s Caroline Green and Michael Parsons maintained third throughout the event, pocketing the bronze.

Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier

Gilles and Poirier were off to a good start with their rhythm dance, set to the songs “No More I Love You’s” and “Addicted to Love.” The 2023 World bronze medalists earned a level three for their difficult midline steps, but then Gilles had a mistake on a twizzle which resulted in negative grades of execution (GOE). The pattern steps were also only graded a level two, but the innovative level-four rotational lift was captivating, as was the choreographic rhythm sequence. They scored 81.04 points for second place going into the free dance.

“Today was not our best skate,” Gilles admitted. “Our big focus of the program was to try to amplify the energy and performance. From what we’ve learned over the years, when you give too much, maybe you are not ready for that performance. I felt I gave too much, and so I wasn’t really grounded, and made a little mistake in the twizzles.”

The 2020 Four Continents silver medalists exhibited exceptional skills in their intriguing free dance to Wuthering Heights. She earned a level three on the twizzles while his were graded a level four. The one-foot steps were a level two and three, while the diagonal steps were three and two. All three lifts were graded a level four, as was the dance spin. The straightline-rotational lift in particular earned many high GOEs.

The 2023 Skate Canada champions scored 126.79 points for first in the free dance and overall (207.83).

“We are really proud of what we accomplished today,” said Poirier. “It is always hard to come back after a not-so-strong performance and put it behind you; just clear your mind and allow yourself to skate like you know how to do. We were able to channel that energy today and really get ourselves lost in the performance. I’m proud of how we handled this week. More than anything, we really enjoyed skating here for all of the skating fans in China and are looking forward to coming back in a few weeks for the Grand Prix Final and perform for them again.”

Marjorie Lajoie and Zachary Lagha

Lajoie and Lagha showcased very good skating skills in their technically difficult rhythm dance set to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” Staying in character throughout, they displayed level-four twizzles and rotational lift. The midline and pattern steps were graded a level three, and all elements were awarded high GOEs. The 2023 Four Continents bronze medalist picked up a new season’s best 82.02 points for first place going into the free dance.

Lagha had noted at Skate America that there was “room for improvement.”

“We are very happy, we skated very good,” he said. “We made the crowd happy which is the most important for us, especially with this program.”

The 2023 Four Continents bronze medalists presented a captivating and emotionally charged free dance to “Roses” by Jean-Michel Blais. All three lifts and the dance spin warranted a level four. The one-foot and diagonal steps were graded a level three, while the twizzles received a three and four. All elements received high GOEs, and the team scored a new personal best of 124.00, placing second. Their total score of 206.02 was also a personal best, but not enough to keep them on the top of the podium.

“It was real fight and I’m very proud of how we fought the program,” said Lajoie. “Skating last was very stressful for us with the long wait.”

“We are very happy to go to the Grand Prix Final,” added Lagha. “It was a struggle at the beginning of the season, as I had a few injuries. But we handled it like professionals and came ready!”

Caroline Green and Michael Parsons

Green and Parsons rocked the arena with their “Scorpions” routine, scoring a season’s best of 76.07 for their rhythm dance. The pattern and midline steps were both graded a level three while the lift was a level four. She received a level three on the twizzles while his were graded a level four, and they finished third in this segment.

“We debuted this program at Skate America and at that point it was two weeks old,” said Parsons. “Now it’s four weeks old and we are happy with progress. We’re not yet where we want to be this season, but we are very happy with the progress we’ve made in a short amount of time.”

The 2022 Four Continents champions delivered an imaginative free dance performance set to “Denmark” and “Wind and Snow,” featuring numerous intricate transitions. The twizzles were graded a three and four, but all lifts received a level four, as did the dance spin. The one-foot steps were a level two and three and the diagonal steps received a level three. The team scored a new season’s best for third place in both the free dance and overall (113.26 / 189.33).

“It is possible to have a frustrating, yet fulfilling, program; that would describe today’s skate for us pretty well,” said Parsons. “We’re both very happy with the changes that we’ve made since Skate America, and we fought through most of the program very well. We made a lot of progress in our elements and left a lot of points on the table. So, we have a lot to improve on, but we’re very happy with what we did today.”

Green and Parsons, who have 20 points after their Grand Prix events, will have to wait until after the Grand Prix in Espoo and NHK Trophy to see if they qualify for the Final.

Eva Pate and Logan Bye

Teammates Eva Pate and Logan Bye were focused and clearly had a good time in their rhythm dance, picking up 73.29 points. Their routine was highlighted by level-four twizzles and rotational lift, as well as level-three midline and pattern steps.

Their free dance to “Polovtsian Dances” showed some improvement as they scored 111.29 points, nearly two points higher than Skate Canada. Their routine featured level-four twizzles and lifts while the one-foot and serpentine steps were graded a level three for both ice dancers. The 2023 Autumn Classic champions placed fourth overall (184.58).

Loicia Demougeot and Theo Le Mercier

Loicia Demougeot and Theo Le Mercier of France showed lots of musicality in their rhythm dance to “Rapper’s Delight” and “Why Can’t We Leave Together.” The 2023 Budapest Trophy bronze medalists scored a new season’s best of 70.18. The national silver medalists were seventh going into the free dance.

Their free dance to “Clair de Lune” and “Waves” was highlighted by level-four twizzles, lifts and dance spin. They scored 109.92 for fifth place, moving up to two spots to fifth overall (180.10).

They plan to explore China a bit before their next event at NHK Trophy.

Rounding out the top nine

USA’ s Emily Bratti and Ian Somerville finished sixth (179.39) overall. They were happy with their free dance and are looking to up the ante on the element score before NHK Trophy in two weeks.

Maria Kazakova and Giorgi Revia of Georgia placed a close seventh (178.86) and will compete again at NHK Trophy as well.

“We are happy for both performances,” said Revia. “There was a mistake but that’s acceptable. We tried our best to show the full program; this is our biggest goal as my health condition is not that good.”

Chinese national champions Xizi Chen and Jianing Xing finished eighth (159.72) ahead of teammates Shang Shi and Nan Wu (138.86). This was a solo event for both teams.

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