by Klaus Reinhold Kany
(22 March 2019) The Rhythm Dance at the World Championships in Saitama had an outstanding level. At least eight couples gave world-class performances. There was no fall at all and the levels especially of the Tango sections were much higher than at Europeans and Four Continents. No North American couple is in the top three, but between second and eighth place there is a difference of only three points, so a lot may happen in the free dance. No less than nine couples came from the Montreal dance school.
It was no surprise that the 2018 World Champions Gabriella Papadakis & Guillaume Cizeron from France took the lead with a new world record of 88.42 points. Dancing to two Tangos, they excelled by their perfect harmony during and between the elements and their unique sparkle. The best couple of the Montreal school only had level 4, mainly GOEs of +5 and +4 and components of around 9.8, with 20 perfect 10.0 out of 45 components.
Papadakis commented: “The whole season was pretty hard on this program to have the levels that we wanted. We have worked a lot on the technique since Europeans. I think that’s what has made a big difference. It’s Japan, and it’s always very nice to skate in Japan. It is fun to have all these people and the cheering. It helps to gain confidence on the ice.“ Cizeron added: “We were happy with the way we skated today. I think it has definitely been our best performance in Rhythm Dance this season. It is our sixth World Championships together in senior skating. The audience was really supportive. We would not be here without a great team of coaches we have back home. All of them we have here, we have five or six coaches currently present at the Championships. We feel so supported.“
Victoria Sinitsina & Nikita Katsalapov from Russia are on second position with 83.94 points, dancing to a Tango by Astor Piazzola. Their twizzle sequence was outstanding even if Katsalapov got a level 3 and Sinitsina a level 4. Their other elements were excellent as well, and the components were around 9.5 with two 10.0 as highest ones. A highlight were their Gancho steps in the step sequence which they learnt with floor dancers. Sinitsina commented: “This is the World Championships, and everyone trained hard for this competition. We have been running through our programs for a long time now. We wanted to show our best, and the crowd helped us a lot.“ Katsalapov added: “It was really amazing to skate here today and be back in Japan. We are very happy with our performance today. We are grateful for the audience. We saw a lot of Russian flags, and we feel that their support helps us to skate. We haven’t had such a result in a while in Russian ice dance. We fell in love with our work, and that’s our biggest motivation.“
The second Russian couple of Alexandra Stepanova & Ivan Bukin sits third, gaining 83.10 points. They used a sexy version of Malaguena besides the required Tango. They had level 4 for all elements and components of around 9.4. Stepanova said: “Today we have done everything we have been practicing for. We are happy that Russian ice dancers can proudly represent our country and show to our country that we are ready to fight for the top positions. It is really precious for Russian athletes. Getting a season‘s best is a good result for all the couples. Everyone was trying hard to achieve this every single day. As for the atmosphere, the crowd has given a lot of warm support to us and we felt at home.“
The U.S. team of Madison Hubbell & Zachary Donohue are the best North American team on fourth postion with 83.09 points, just .01 points behind Stepanova and Bukin. They also had nothing but level 4, mainly GOEs of +4 and components of around 9.4. “I think that we sometimes need a little bit of a wake up call. We were growing a lot on our expression and we took the last month to give the exact on the technical. We were very pleased today to give out a strong performance. We got all level 4 which was our goal and it’s a great start towards the whole competition.“
Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje from Canada are currently fifth with 82.84 points. They were another couple with only level 4 elements, had mainly GOEs of +3 and components of around 9.4.
Madison Chock & Evan Bates, who are training in Montreal with the two other U.S. pairs, are on sixth position, earning 82.32 points. They are another couple with only level 4 elements and had mainly GOEs of +3. Chock said: “It is definitely great to have that Four Continents title under our belt. Coming to the World Championships there we wanted to reset and we have made some changes to our programs, so we had a lot to focus on in that aspect when we were training. The arena is huge, so it was great.“
Charlene Guignard & Marco Fabbri from Italy are currently seventh with 81.66 points after another flawless performance. Piper Gilles & Paul Poirier from Canada are on eighth position with 80.44 points after another excellent program. Kaitlin Hawayek & Jean-Luc Baker are on ninth place, winning 75.90 points in a very good program.
Canadian dancer Laurence Fournier Beaudry and Danish dancer Nikolaj Sorensen skate for Canada in their first season after competing for Denmark up to 2018. But this country did not give Beaudry the Danish citizenship which she would have needed for competing at the Olympic Games of 2014 and 2018. Danish laws allow citizenship only if you have lived in the country for at least ten years. But Denmark has no ice dance coach at all, therefore they live and train in Canada and now hope to qualify for the Olympic Games of 2022 in 2021. They are on tenth position with 74.76 points after getting excellent levels.