Welcome to the 2017 Cup of China ice dancing free dance! This time, it’s a chilly Sunday afternoon. I really need to go make a cup of tea, but I can’t wait to see Papadakis and Cizeron, so let’s get started!
As I mentioned in the short dance post…
I have a harder time talking about ice dancing because I know next to nothing about dancing or the technical components of this particular discipline. Still, I can report on how things looked, what I felt, what worked, and what didn’t in terms of connecting with the music and the audience.
If you’d like to follow along, here’s the playlist I watched on YouTube.
Lorraine McNamara & Quinn Carpenter | USA
- Their music is “Anime Contro Vento” by the Medialuna Tango Project. They’re dressed for a tango, too, in sleek black. I dig it.
- Okay, a few notes in, it looks like this is a soft, slow tango rather than the quick, fast, almost harsh precision I think of with a traditional tango. The music features just a piano and an accordion.
- Their first lift is nice, with good flow.
- Their second lift (in the screenshot above) looks a lot like what Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir use to highlight the climax of their Moulin Rouge free dance. It’s a great highlight move when the music swells, but not much is going on musically right now, so I’m wondering if this is kind of wasted.
- It looks like they’re skating a bit far apart at times – I want to see them closer together.
- Good twizzles!
- You guys, the slowness of the music isn’t doing them any favors. There was a tempo change, but it’s still not very dramatic. Still muted, with just the piano and accordion. Tango is about fire, right? And precision?
- Meh on the rotational lift – I’m not crazy about the positions. Good speed, though.
- Really nice spin there at the end! It looks like they finished a teensy bit off the music.
- Overall, this was nice, but nothing really grabbed me. I saw more emotion from her when the tempo picked up, but it was all in the face and not in the body movements.
Technical elements: 48.99
This puts them in first place so far.
Tiffany Zahorski & Jonathan Guerreiro | Russia
- I didn’t see these two in the final group in the short dance, so they must have a good score that put them in this final group for the free dance.
- Their names made me curious, so I had to look them up. She was born in London, but is a French and Russian citizen. He was born in Sydney to a Russian mother and Portuguese father. Let’s move on.
- Their music is “Exogenesis Symphony” and “Ruled by Secrecy” by Muse.
- That’s a nice opening move, where she’s leaning down over him and they’re circling the ice.
- These two have a very nice and light feel – they’re practically floating over the ice.
- Nice twizzles – but their arm positions should have been more synchronized on the third twizzle.
- Whoa, she did this huge flying leap toward him! Athletic, yes, but out of character with their music and the program’s floaty, lyrical feel.
- We started out with an instrumental, and now we’re into a vocal. This fits knowing Muse is the source, but I’m not a super fan of the vocal and instrumental combo in general. As they say in Russia, you can’t put your ass on two toilets.
- That was kind of an awkward exit from their lift/spin at the end of the program.
Technical elements: 48.57
This puts them in first place, ahead of the Americans. That’s fair. Their coverage of the ice and speed seemed much better. Both teams’ technical scores were similar, but these two scored 3+ more points in the presentation score. They do have a more polished look to them.
Gabriella Papadakis & Guillaume Cizeron | France
- They’re skating to Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata here. Instantly, I’m thinking of Gordeeva and Grinkov’s long program from Lillehammer.
- In their opener, I love the way he puts her hand behind his neck, bringing her into the dance. They have such a great connection to each other.
- They tackle the twizzles right off the bat – fantastic unison, timed perfectly with the beats of the music. Such good speed, too.
- The stupid cameraman keeps going airborne. They’re intending to show more of what’s going on, but now I missed all the detail of their first lift. Thanks for nothing, unartistic camera operator.
- That’s a really nice pair spin, timed perfectly with the faster part of the music.
- Oh holy crap, that’s a gorgeous spin/slide across the ice (see screenshot above). Her toes and hands are so perfectly pointed.
- She just twirled and hopped up into his arms – a nice move on its own, but then it transitioned into a lift, which transitioned back to the ice with a few gentle hops that keep the sense of vertical movement. Their choreography is so well thought out.
- All their movements connect so well. He runs his hands down her sides, then picks her up at the knees. Absolutely nothing is wasted. Everything means something.
- Such nice mirror skating at the end. The synchronization is perfect!
Technical elements: 60.77
This puts them in first place – and, would you look at that…a season’s best and a new world record for the free dance! Their competition total is over 200 ( 200.43). Holy shit. That’s a world record overall! I have to say, after I watched Virtue and Moir at Skate Canada, I was kind of thinking they had the gold sewn up. But now…it is ON.
Madison Chock & Evan Bates | USA
- They’re skating to “Imagine” by John Lennon. Ugh. Downer. I’ll try not to hold it against them.
- Wow, check out the move in the screenshot above. Her leg is stretched all the way up – such a pretty move!
- This is a weird version of the song, with some female vocals mixed in with Lennon’s original vocals. Kinda disorienting. I wasn’t a fan of the song to begin with, but at least Lennon’s original has a purity about it. Not enjoying the changes.
- Nice twizzles – good unison, but they’re moving a little slow. Compare their twizzle speed to Papadakis and Cizeron, who look like they’re flying.
- Okay, this music is really bothering me now. We’ve had the original and a weird female vocal addition. Now, there’s no vocal at all. A squeaky violin is taking the place of the vocals. No likey.
- Here’s what I’m noticing about them. Their skating can be light and lyrical, or fast and energetic. I love that they can do both so well. They’re fun to watch because of their versatility. They connect with each other, the audience, and the music.
- Now we have another lift where the woman jumps up into the arms of the man. These add athleticism, for sure, but I’ve seen a lot of YouTube comments from viewers who want ice dancing to stay a dance, not a gymnastics tryout. It’s an interesting debate. This is a sport, and there’s nothing wrong with wanting to display athleticism. Ballroom dancers do some crazy jumps and lifts, too.
- Wow, they picked up speed for the last third of the program, and she’s emoting the shit out of the music. I’m glad there’s a build, which is what I wanted to see in the first two couples’ programs. But I DO NOT like this song, and I don’t like this weird version of it.
- I like these two – a WHOLE LOT – but I don’t think this is the vehicle they were looking for.
Technical elements: 56.27
This puts them in second place (duh). But will it be enough to hold off the Russians?
Ekaterina Bobrova & Dmitri Soloviev | Russia
- Their music is listed as “Oblivion, Beethoven’s Five Secrets.” I have no idea what this means.
- Let’s take a minute to acknowledge how good their outfits are. None of that overly bedazzled stuff; just a shirt, vest and pants for him, and a lovely rose colored dip-dyed dress for her. Nice choices, you guys. I don’t say that often about Russians and fashion choices.
- Okay, so her character in this dance is blind – she’s reaching out and seeming not to see, and he has to guide her. This could work as long as they don’t overplay it. I’m picturing some of the Bestemianova/Bukin programs from the late ’80s, where they went deep-end with the roleplaying (Rasputin and Tsarevich Alexei, for example). Let’s see how they do with this.
- They’re doing their twizzles right off the bat, too. Great unison, even in the arm movements.
- And now we have another lift that starts with the woman leaping into the man’s arms. This is really a trend these days, you guys. Why? Is it rewarded by the judges? Or are couples looking for a way to add difficulty? Or is it a me-too thing, where once one couple did it, they all want to?
- I’m not a fan of the lift where she’s balanced like a pencil on his legs while he’s in a crouch. I’m sure it’s hard as hell. I couldn’t do it. But there’s not enough of a payoff – and the line just isn’t as pretty as their other lifts.
- Her character seemed to disappear a bit until we hit the middle section. Now she’s moving her arms in front of her face. This must mean she can see now? I was worried they’d go too into character, but I’m kind of thinking they didn’t go far enough. The choreography didn’t seem to support the story as well as it could have.
- We just had a music cut, you guys – now it’s an orchestral version of “Secrets” from OneRepublic. I like the instrumental version, I’m just not sure how it connects with the other pieces of music. Looks like there’s a lot of arm waving and pointing in this section. I guess it makes sense, if her character can see now.
- Wow, that’s a beautiful move when she balances both her blades on his foot!
- She slips out of his arms at the end. Oh, that’s so sad – she can see now, and she leaves him behind. Argh! So simple, but so emotionally affecting. Great ending, you guys.
Technical elements: 55.36
This puts them in third, behind Chock and Bates. I love Chock and Bates, but style wise, I really preferred Bobrova and Soloviev here. Chock and Bates got ’em in both the technical mark and the presentation mark, though.
That’s the end of the 2017 Cup of China free dance! Was anyone robbed? Tell me in the comments!
If you just can’t get enough, check out the rest of my 2017 skating posts: