Grenoble / France

Two-time World Champions Gabriella Papadakis/Guillaume Cizeron, of France, skated to a confident lead in the Short Dance, setting a personal-best score en route as the Internationaux de France de Patinage continued Friday in Grenoble. Madison Chock/Evan Bates (USA) finished in second, keeping alive their chances for the Grand Prix Final. Russia’s Alexandra Stepanova/Ivan Bukin placed third in the first segment of the competition.

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Dancing to ‘Shape of You’ and ‘Thinking Out Loud’, by Ed Sheeran, Papadakis/Cizeron produced strong footwork and a straight line lift. They earned a level four for the rhumba pattern, the side–by-side step sequence, the twizzles and the lift while the pattern step sequence was rated a level three. The three-time European Champions slightly improved their personal best with 81.40 points.

“It was a lot of fun to perform to this great audience today and we’re very happy with our points. It’s a season’s best and we’re confident about our improvement. There is still a lot of room for improvement, but we’re very happy with tonight,” Cizeron said. “This year we wanted to have a Short Dance that was really like us and that we can relate a lot more to than usual. We love the song, we love the choreography and we have really fun with it. We knew that our weak point often was the technique in the Short Dance and we worked a lot on it this summer,” Papadakis added.

Chock/Bates’ characteristic dance to salsa, rhumba and samba by Mark Anthony featured level-four twizzles and a level-four curve lift, but the other three elements merited a level three. The two-time World medalists posted a season’s best with 73.55 points. “We’re very pleased with the way we skated. I think we’re getting more comfortable with the program – it’s the second time we’ve competed it. It maybe wasn’t as strong technically as in China, but it was a season’s best as far as the score,” Bates said.

Stepanova/Bukin put in a strong performance to samba and rhumba as well, collecting a level four for the twizzles and the curve lift, but the rhumba pattern garnered only a level two. The Rostelecom Cup bronze medalists earned 70.02 points. “We’ve worked a lot with ballroom dance teachers. I’m not sure that we are moving as well as Gabriella and Guillaume, but we’re trying our best,” Bukin commented.

Charlene Guignard/Marco Fabbri (ITA) are currently ranked fourth on 69.73 points. Kaitlyn Weaver/Andrew Poje (CAN) came fifth after Poje missed the twizzles (68.94 points). Elliana Pogrebinsky/Alex Benoit (USA) finished sixth (60.64).

The Internationaux de France de Patinage are the fifth of six events in the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating series that culminates in the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final in Nagoya (JPN) in December. The top six skaters/couples in each discipline qualify for the Final. The global prize money for the Grand Prix is US$272,000.

Full entry lists and results of the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating 2017/18 are available here.  Follow the discussion on social media by using #GPFigure #FigureSkating

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