Tessa Virtue / Scott Moir (CAN) ©Getty Images
Canada’s 2010 Olympic Champions Tessa Virtue/Scott Moir skated to the lead in the short dance, setting a record score at Gangneung Ice Arena on Monday. Two-time World Champions Gabriella Papadakis/ Guillaume Cizeron of France overcame a costume malfunction to place second, less than two points behind. U.S. Champions Madison Hubbell/Zachary Donohue are currently ranked third.
Virtue/Moir’s dance to Samba, Rhumba and Cha Cha by the Rolling Stones and Santana included intricate footwork and a rotational lift. The Canadians picked up a level four for all elements and earned 83.67 points, improving their own personal best and record score by almost one point.
"We really want to win this individual gold. It's a really deep field and we have to really be on our game," Moir said. “The Americans are so strong, the French are so strong and we even have a Canadian in the mix. We just have to keep going and keep plugging away, it's a two-day event. We know our work isn't over, it's a long event. The biggest chunk is tomorrow (Tuesday) and we have to stay on our game,” he added.
Gabriella Papadakis / Guillaume Cizeron (FRA) ©Getty Images
Dancing to ‘Shape of You’ and ‘Thinking Out Loud’ by Ed Sheeran, Papadakis/Cizeron produced four level-four elements, only the pattern type step sequence was rated a level three. The four-time European Champions scored 81.93 points. However, the French were distracted by a costume malfunction when Papadakis’ dress became undone at the back at the very beginning of the program. "It was distracting," she commented. "It was my worst nightmare coming true at the Olympics. I had no choice than just keep going. I felt it right away and I prayed, that’s what I could do,” she continued. “We are not extremely disappointed, but we could have done better without that problem. Two points can be caught up. If we can do our best, we have chances to win,” Cizeron noted. “Tomorrow is a new day and we'll do our best as always. There is nothing we could do about this (costume issue), we just have to keep going,” he added.
Madison Hubbell / Zachary Donohue (USA) ©Getty Images
Hubbell/Donohue put out a strong performance to Samba, Rhumba and Samba as well, collecting a level four for the side by side footwork, the Rhumba pattern and the curve lift and a level three for the rotational lift. The U.S. Champions set a new personal best with 77.75 points. “It was such an emotional day for me, trying to let in that gratitude of being here and also be strong,” Hubbell said. “I am really looking forward to going back out there tomorrow. I was so busy being focused, it was hard to really enjoy it. I am looking forward to being back on the ice for the free dance.”
ISU Grand Prix Final bronze medalists Maia Shibutani/Alex Shibutani (USA) were edged out by just 0.02 points and came fourth with another characteristic dance, but a level two in the Rhumba pattern cost them precious points (77.73 points). "It's an awesome program and I think that we surprised many people with our ability to perform the Latin rhythm. It's been so much fun for us, because we are able to show our personality. We've always had the technical goods, so it's really nice to package all that into such an awesome performance especially here at the Olympics,” Alex Shibutani shared.
2014 World Ice Dance Champions Anna Cappellini/Luca Lanotte (ITA) ranked fifth on 76.57 points. "We will be in the last group in the Olympics tomorrow, we want to fight for a medal and we want to be among the best. We stayed in it for a reason, to show that we are that couple. I think today we showed it again how we performed and we hope to do well in the free dance,” Lanotte said.
Not far behind in sixth are multiple European medalists Ekaterina Borbova/Dmitri Soloviev (OAR) on 75.47 points. “The scores are close. The two top teams have set themselves apart, obviously, but the battle for third place will be very close," Soloviev noted.
With the small difference in points, the rankings can shuffle quite a lot in the free dance. A total of 24 Ice Dance couples representing 17 ISU members have been entered for the Ice Dance competition. The top 20teams advance to the Free Dance on Tuesday.