2023 Grand Prix de France: Ice Dance
Charlene Guignard and Marco Fabbri of Italy defended their title at the 2023 Grand Prix de France in Angers on Sunday. Canada’s Laurence Fournier Beaudry and Nikolaj Soerensen picked up another silver, while France’s Evgeniia Lopareva and Geoffrey Brissaud repeated for another bronze at this event.
Charlene Guignard and Marco Fabbri
Guignard and Fabbri picked up a new season’s best of 86.62 for first place for their upbeat rhythm dance to “Holding Out for a Hero” and “Against All Odds.” The twizzles, pattern steps and straight-line lift were all graded a level four with high grades of execution (GOE), while the midline steps received a level three.
“We are happy to be back in Angers,” said Fabbri, adding that rhythm dance felt easy. “Charlene is French and her family could come. We are especially very happy about the rhythm dance. Shanghai wasn’t good for us.”
“When we started listening to music from the 80s, we realized that we could choose rock music or aerobic style music,” he said of their choice. “When we heard ‘Holding out for a Hero’ we felt it was a mix between these two genres. It allowed us to do something a little bit different.”
The 2023 World silver medalists showed lots of passion in their free dance which featured very difficult level-four lifts. The final stationary lift in particular received very high grades of execution (GOE) that ranged between +3 to +5. The twizzles were also very strong earning a level four, as did the dance spin. The circular and one-foot steps were both graded a level three, and they were awarded a new season’s best of 127.92, placing first in this segment and overall (214.54).
“It feels great!” said Fabbri of their win. “We feel happy about our performances. We feel like we improved from the last competition. We felt an ease on the ice from the first practice on. We are super happy!”
Fabbri noted that last’s season’s free dance was “dark” and “physically very demanding.”
“The final result was good, but it was not natural for us,” he said. “We wanted to go back to something more natural for us. Now we chose something that allows us to show our connection better. ‘The Theory of Everything’ is the story of Steven Hawkins who was sick and about a person who was a big part of his life and took care of him. It’s not a simple love story.”
Their next Grand Prix will be in NHK Trophy.
“We know what do work on,” said Fabbri. “We did some adjustments on the rhythm dance already. We need to get into a bit better physical shape, to feel less heavy legs towards the end of the program.”
Laurence Fournier Beaudry and Nikolaj Soerensen
Fournier Beaudry and Soerensen showed a level-four straight-line lift and twizzles in their rhythm dance to music from Top Gun. The diagonal steps were graded a level two while the pattern steps were graded a level three, and they earned a new season’s best of 80.98. However, the lift received a one-point deduction for being extended.
“It was super nice to skate here today, it felt like practicing at home,” said Soerensen of the rhythm dance. “We are happy, especially that we could have a good turn around after the not-ideal start with this rhythm dance in Finland. We are kind of happy that skate happened there and not during the Grand Prix.”
“So, we are happy, just not happy to be behind Charlene and Marco!” he added. “I guess we need to work harder to get there. This is a really nice arena. Sometimes it’s better to skate in a small arena with full stands than in a huge half-empty arena. We are having a good time.”
The 2023 Four Continents silver medalists were committed and showed passionate free dance which featured level-four lifts and dance spin; however, the twizzles were only graded a level for her and three for him. Both the one-foot and diagonal steps were graded a level two, but they placed second with a new season’s best of 124.17 and overall (205.15).
“We are very happy,” said Soerensen. “This program does something with us. It keeps building throughout and we are able to find momentum in the program! This program shows our strengths.
We were able to put out two solid skates here!”
“It was really fun performing here tonight!” agreed Fournier Beaudry.
She added that Marie-France Dubreuil suggested their free dance music five days before worlds last season.
“You know that feeling when you listen to a certain piece it touches a part of your heart?” asked Fournier Beaudry. “It comes really natural for us with this music.”
“It’s music that really moves us,” added Soerensen. “We saw the musical live. I have never been so much on fire about a program in a while. I am happy to do the free dance whenever the coaches suggest it during practices.”
The team competes in Finland next and will continue to work on their programs with “glide and speed” being the main focus.
Evgeniia Lopareva and Geoffrey Brissaud
Lopareva and Brissaud finished third (76.95) in the rhythm dance. The team lost a level on the midline and pattern steps after Skate America, receiving a level two for both elements in Angers. The stationary lift and twizzles were graded a level four.
“Despite the technical being a bit lower, we feel like it was the best rhythm dance performance of the season yet,” said Lopareva. “The GOEs were higher than at Skate America!”
“We feel like we are improving little by little, step by step!” added Brissaud.
The 2023 Skate America bronze medalists place third (113.87) in the free dance after their classical free dance to selections by Rachmaninov. Their routine was highlighted by level-four twizzles and lifts, but they only received a level two on the dance spin, losing two levels since their outing. The diagonal steps were graded a level two and level one, while the one-foot steps were a level three and two. They finished third overall with 190.82 points.
“We are feeling really good,” said Brissaud. “We put out a good performance. It’s special to perform in France. We continue to improve this free dance.”
“We wanted to work on the second mark from Skate America and we achieved that,” said Lopareva. “The PCS was higher this time. On the other hand, the technical went a bit lower, so now we will have to focus on a little bit of everything. We will have a challenger (Warsaw Cup) and then nationals next.”
Christina Carreira and Anthony Ponomarenko
USA’s Christina Carreira and Anthony Ponomarenko were fourth 72.94 going into the free dance after some minor mistakes on the twizzles and midline steps.
“We feel like it was a step in the right direction,” said Carreira. “A few technical mistakes that we have to work on, but we feel like today was a step forward. Our goal is to medal at least one of our Grand Prixes, but mainly to have fun and enjoy the competition!”
Skating to the suspenseful music from Perfume, the 2022 Four Continents bronze medalists wove the murder story around their level-four lifts, twizzles and dance spin. The one-foot and circular steps were both graded a three for her and two for him. They placed fourth in the free dance and overall (113.76 / 186.70).
“We think we put out two solid performances this weekend that we are proud of,” said Carreira. “There is still a lot to work on, but for now we are happy.”
Ponomarenko agreed, adding, “We want to work on the little details and nuances. We also want to improve on power and speed.”
“It’s been really fun to work on this a bit darker program,” said Carreira. “We don’t show the really story of the movie, but we want to portrait that love turns into obsession!”
Their next Grand Prix will be in Finland alongside Fournier Beaudry and Soerensen.
Marie-Jade Lauriault and Romain Le Gac
The husband-and-wife team of Marie-Jade Lauriault and Romain Le Gac of France finished fifth in both the rhythm dance (70.48). They also place fifth in the free dance and overall (112.13 / 182.61).
Their entertaining and clever routine to music from the Corpse Bride was highlighted by their level-four lifts, dance spin and twizzles. They had a slight wardrobe malfunction with the skirt, which was torn, but it didn’t appear to affect the program.
“The skirt of the costume broke during the lift at the beginning” Lauriault explained. “I was so afraid something would happen. It was rolling through my mind throughout the program.”
She added that they have had this music on the playlist since they were juniors but felt at the time it would be too “childish.”
“But it came back up after we watched the movie again!” said Lauriault.” Every element is linked to the theme, and we worked really hard on the costumes.”
Lauriault also shared that she worked with a make-up artist to learn how to do it.
“Some of our coaches were a bit skeptical at first but we think now they also all enjoy it,” said Gac.
The 2023 Budapest Trophy silver medalists will compete next at NHK Trophy, sharing ice again with Guignard and Fabbri.
Rounding out the top ten
South Korea’s Hannah Lim and Ye Quan showed improvement from Skate America, placing sixth overall with a new season’s best of 173.85. The team was super happy.
Quan admitted to being nervous before the free dance.
“I tried to calm him down by singing,” said Lim. “I was also really nervous; these nerves just won’t get better!”
Her partner said that he felt emotionally connected to the free dance.
“That was good,” he said. “I try to feel the character, the man who has to leave his love behind to fight in war! Due to my dry eyes it sometimes even looks like I am crying on the ice, which suits the story!”
They will compete next at the Warsaw Cup and are looking forward to skating in front of the European fans again.