France's Papadakis and Cizeron take the lead in Olympic ice dancing

Many believed Gabriella Papadakis, Guillaume Cizeron should have been on top of the podium in Pyeongchang four years ago when their long-time rivals Tessa Virtue or Scott Moir won in the most competitive Olympic ice dancing competitions in history.

France's Papadakis and Cizeron take the lead in Olympic ice dancing

Four-time world champions France won't leave Beijing without a fight.

Papadakis & Cizeron set a new world record Saturday night in rhythm dancing, combining their unique combination of technical ability and balletic grace. Their score of 90.83 gives them an advantage over Victoria Sinitsina (and Nikita Katsalapov) heading into the free dancing.

Papadakis stated, "It couldn’t be more different since we were quite disappointed four years back and we’re very happy now."

Sinitsina & Katsalapov, reigning world champions, were awarded 88.84 points each to remain within striking distance of the gold.

The U.S. contingent was next: Madison Hubbell, Zachary Donohue and Madison Chock scored 87.13 points for their "Rhythm Nation", program, while Evan Bates and Madison Chock scored 84.14 as they try to make it to the podium at their third Olympics.

The Monday free dance to determine the medals will be held.

After winning silver in the team event last Thursday, the two American teams are now guaranteed at least one medal from Beijing. It is possible that this could be elevated to gold depending upon the outcome of a Russian drug investigation.

Ivan Bukin and Alexandra Stepanova, who arrived late to Beijing and didn't take part in Saturday night's team event, were the first ones to set a target for all of the other competitors. They scored 84.09, which is just below their season-best score at the European championships.

The lead was able to withstand the British Lilah Fear, Lewis Gibson, and Papadakis and Cizeron's ice-breaking efforts.

They proved why they are almost unbeatable over the past four years. They lost only once at the 2020 European championships. Cizeron and Papadakis were sharp and precise, and seemed to glide effortlessly across the Capital Indoor Stadium's ice, breaking through some of the previous stingy scoring.

Two graceful technicians were awarded Level 3 marks for their pattern dance and midline steps, and Level 4 marks for everything else. This gave them a new record score and sent them to first place.

Cizeron stated that they had been waiting for about four years, but the last time was a few days, hours, minutes, and then it was flighttime. "And once we got in the air, everything vanished and there was only momentum."

The one team that beat Papadakis & Cizeron two years ago? Sinitsina & Katsalapov.

The reigning world champions rocked through a challenging program that featured "Brickhouse", a 1970s and '80s American funk/soul band. They were also awarded Level 3s for their pattern and midline steps and scored 88.85 to remain in contention.

Katsalapov stated that they were thinking about every edge in both footworks. "And sometimes, when you look at the reviews, you think it is clean. But sometimes, their reviews can show that it is not. "I think the judges were fair, because we did our best."

Chock and Bates are appearing in their fourth Olympics, having teamed up with Emily Samuelson back in 2010. There were some awkward moments during the rhythm dance. Chock managed to hold onto a significant bobble in the midnight blues sequence. Their Level 2 scores for their midline step meant they were playing catchup to win a medal.

Piper Gilles, and Paul Poirier from Canada were bronze medalists in the world. They also struggled to get through their midline step sequence, which was set to Elton John's music. They finished sixth behind Bukin and Stepanova.

Chock stated that "our score was a little lower than we had hoped." We need to examine the protocol and find out where we have lost some levels. It's likely that this is where it was. It's not over, however.


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