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Two-time World Champions Gabriella Papadakis/Guillaume Cizeron of France beat Canada’s reigning World Champions Tessa Virtue/Scott Moir for the first time and took their first Grand Prix Final title as the Ice Dance event concluded at the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final in Nagoya (JPN) Saturday. Three-time World medalists Maia Shibutani/Alex Shibutani (USA) clinched the bronze medal.

Papadakis/Cizeron’s romantic dance to ‘Moonlight Sonata’ featured beautiful lifts and effortless looking footwork. The two-time World Champions collected a level four for the twizzles, lifts and combination spin and a level three for the two step sequences. The judges awarded them mostly plus three GOEs and 24 perfect 10.00s. The French Champions tallied 120.09 points for the Free Dance and totaled a new highest score of 202.16 points. “We are happy to have won this competition. It was a good practice for the Olympic Games that are coming up in few months. It was a very good performance and there was a lot of pressure here with the top six teams competing. We’re very happy that we were able to deal with this pressure,” Papadakis shared. “This is also the first time for us to win the Grand Prix Final, so it is one more thing off our list. It (the program) was not perfect yet, there are still some things that we can improve in both programs, technically and also to make it more consistent,” Cizeron added.

Virtue/Moir delivered a passionate performance to ‘El Tango de Roxanne’ and ‘Come What May’ from ‘Moulin Rouge’, executing level-four lifts, twizzles and a level-four spin as well. The footwork garnered a level three and the 2010 Olympic Champions picked up 15 perfect 10.00s in the component scores. The 2014 Olympic silver medalists posted a personal best with 118.33 points for a total of 199.86 points. “We are on track towards the Olympics. We had an extremely successful season so far that's testament to the team of people around us with our on and off ice coaches, they have put a spectacular plan in place and as athletes it's been rewarding to really follow that. We just have to continue taking care of the details, making little tweaks to make sure that the programs are at our best for February,” Virtue said. “To be honest it was a funny program for us, we had a great feeling between the two of us but we made a couple little uncharacteristic glitches that we don't even make in training that often, but I guess that's why we train,” Moir noted.

Dancing to ‘Paradise’ by Coldplay, Shibutani/Shibutani produced excellent lifts and a level four spin, but the diagonal step sequence merited a level two and his twizzles were somewhat shaky. That was enough for the 2017 World bronze medalists to be ranked sixth in the Free Dance on 109.91 points, but overall they held on to third place on 188.00 points.

“Today was not the performance that we wanted to have unfortunately. We feel pretty good this week overall and there was a lot of stuff to make progress, but I just had issues on the twizzles this week, which is uncharacteristic. We know what we need to work on. I’m not too worried about it,” Alex Shibutani commented.

Madison Hubbell/ Zachary Donohue (USA) finished in fourth place on 187.40 points. Madison Chock/Evan Bates (USA) were third in the Free Dance, but remained in fifth place with 187.15 points.  Anna Cappellini/Luca Lanotte (ITA) came sixth (185.23 points). 

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