Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron wanted to end this season in style, which saw them – finally – win Olympic gold in ice dancing at the Beijing Olympics in February. It’s done. Saturday March 26 in Montpellier, in a packed Sud de France Arena, the French recovered their world crown, at the end of the final event of the world figure skating championships. “It was a really nice moment.smiles the young woman of 26 years. It’s nice to finish this cycle in France, it means a lot to us. “It’s one of the best competitions of my career. We received incredible support. It’s one of the reasons we love what we do so much.”abounds his partner.
Despite the desire to succeed in their global reunion after having had to skip the 2021 Worlds in Stockholm due to the health situation, they approached this meeting without pressure. “The world championships after the Olympic Games are always a special competition, because we are still a little on the little cloud of the Olympics.explains the skater. It’s like a last celebration. »
Relaxed and all smiles, Friday, during the rhythm dance – the first of two legs of the ice dance event – they won a new world record: 92.73 points, almost two more than their previous one, established at the Beijing Games (90.83). Saturday, they offered a second on their free program.
With this 5and world title – after 2015, 2016, 2018 and 2019 – Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron enter a little more into the history of a discipline that they have dominated almost continuously for seven years. Only the Soviets Lyudmila Pakhomova and Alexandr Gorshkov did better with six titles gleaned in the 1970s.
Will the French pair seek this record? At the epilogue of the Montpellier Worlds the same question is on everyone’s lips: did the duo, who have now won everything, deliver their last dance? ” I will not tell anythingjokes Nathalie Péchalat, the president of the French Federation of Ice Sports (FFSG). The decision is still theirs and it has not been shared, neither with the media nor with the federation. »
The mother of the skater, Catherine Papadakis affirms it: she is not either “not in confidence”. But in his eyes, the couple has already fulfilled its contract. “What do they have left to prove?” Add titles? No. It’s another time, another era. What they did was make ice dancing history. We will remember them. »
“The Russians are prodigies, but there are three of them”
The presence of French dancers at the Montpellier Worlds will have succeeded in making people forget the absence of other headliners. The triple reigning world champion and Olympic champion in Beijing, the American Nathan Chen had to forfeit due to injury a few days before the start of the event. On the Hérault ice, there is no trace either of the skates of the Japanese icon Yuzuru Hanyun or the Chinese couple Sui Wenjing and Han Cong, adorned with gold at home a month ago.
But it is above all the exclusion of the Russians in response to the invasion of Ukraine, ordered on February 24 by Vladimir Putin, which was the most feared on the level of the competition. Dominant nation in pairs and women, its skaters had gleaned four of the six podiums at stake in these specialties during the last Winter Games.
A domination of which Nathalie Péchalat is aware. However, there is no question of considering that the sacred in these categories are “discounted titles” or that we attended a “low level competition”. “That’s not the case, it’s still a world champion title. We saw other athletes, flawless programs…”sweeps the former ice dancer.
In seven years, Russian skaters have only missed world gold once, in 2018 in Milan (Italy). In Stockholm, in 2021 and at the European Championships in Tallinn in Estonia, in January of this year, they had even monopolized the entire podium. “We know that the Russians are little prodigies, but they are three out of more than thirty women present [sur la glace à Montpellier]insists the president of the FFSG. Among the girls, the competition was very tough, breathless, there were twists and turns… Faces that we knew, but more like outsiders who confirmed. » It is also the Japanese Kaori Sakamoto, who had never previously climbed on a world podium, but had collected Olympic bronze in Beijing, who was crowned.
Tributes and support for Ukraine
These world championships will remain above all marked by the many marks and testimonies of support for Ukraine. Five athletes from the country took part in the world championships, the first major international competition where the country’s athletes have been represented since the Paralympic Games and the start of the armed conflict.
“At the opening ceremony with the first tribute that we wanted to do with a minute of applause, people did not want to stop. In fact today, we only have that to express our support, us, as citizens ”explains Nathalie Péchalat.
For lack of training and their thoughts far removed from athletic performance, the couple Artem Darenskyi and Sofia Holichenko, then the ice dancers Maxim Nikitin and Alexandra Nazarova threw in the towel before the end of the competition. “At first they didn’t want to come. They did it for their country, I found it magnificent”greets Gabriella Papadakis, in regular contact with the Ukrainian dancer since the beginning of the conflict.
Only Ivan Shmuartko presented his free program on Saturday, leaving the public at the Sud de France Arena with tears in their eyes. The 20-year-old is expected to stay in France after the competition.
The winners of the world figure skating championships in Montpellier
- In the couple category
The Americans Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier were crowned world champions with a total of 221.09 points. The Japanese Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara are silver medalists (199.55 points). The Canadians Vanessa James and Eric Radford are bronze medalists (197.32 points).
- In the women’s category
The Japanese Kaori Sakamoto was crowned world champion with a total of 236.09 points. The Belgian Loena Hendrickx is a silver medalist (217.70 points). I’American Alysa Liu is a bronze medalist (211.19 points).
- In the men’s category
the Japanese Shoma Uno was crowned world champion with a total of 312.48 points. the Japanese Yuma Kagiyama is a silver medalist (297.60 points). I’American Vincent Zhou is a bronze medalist (277.38 points).
- In the ice dancing category
The French Gabriella Papadakis and Guilaume Cizeron were crowned world champions with a total of 229.82 points. The Americans Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue are silver medalists (222.39 points). The Americans Madison Chock and Evan Bates are bronze medalists (216.83 points).
- In the french clanCamille and Pavel Kovalev finished 8and in the couple test (153.73 points). In the men’s category, Adam Siao Him Fa also placed 8and (266.12 points), Kevin Amoz takes 11and place with 245.46 points. Among the girls, Léa Serna had failed to validate her ticket for the free program, with 54.30 points on her short program. She ends up 29and of the competition.