At the fifth stage of this season’s International Skating Union (ISU) Grand Prix series in France – the 2021 Internationaux de France – the expected favorites once again found ways to overcome all obstacles and celebrate the top prizes.
2021 World champion Anna Shcherbakova secured her spot at next month’s ISU Grand Prix Final with a second victory in this season’s series. The 17-year-old Russian figure skater led a trio of Russians in the top three positions heading into the free skate event and extended that lead with the top score on Saturday.
Shcherbakova began her free skate routine with a planned quad Lutz; however, an unfortunate mishap caused her to slip on the entrance and the element was given a zero-point base value. Nevertheless, the three-time reigning Russian national champion quickly recomposed and successfully landed a clean quad flip in her subsequent sequence.
Skating to a mixture of Ruska by Apocalyptica, Satan’s Ball from the series The Master and Margarita, as well as Requiem by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Shcherbakova also completed a triple flip-triple toe loop combination, a double axel, a triple Lutz-triple loop combination, a triple flip-Euler-triple toe loop combination, and a triple Lutz. Additionally, she received level four ratings on all of her spins. Shcherbakova received a score of 151.75 points for her free skate performance and earned a total competition score of 229.69 points.
Unlike in the short program, where Alena Kostornaia settled for a double axel instead of her famed triple, the 2020 European champion attempted the triple axel to begin her free skate routine; unfortunately, taking a hard fall. The 18-year-old Russian carried on with her program and earned all positive grades of execution from that point on. Skating to a mixture of several versions of Billie Eilish’s and Khalid’s Lovely, Kostornaia landed a triple Lutz, a triple loop, a double axel, a triple flip-triple toe loop combination, a triple flip-Euler-triple Salchow combination, and a triple Lutz-double toe loop combination. She received a score of 145.41 points for the free skate and earned a total competition score of 221.85 points.
Sixth after the short program, Japanese figure skater Wakaba Higuchi achieved a new personal best free skate score and rose to claim the bronze medal. Skating to music from The Lion King, Higuchi successfully landed her opening triple axel – the jump was given a quarter under-rotation call but maintained full base value with a minor negative grade of execution. The 20-year-old, who finished sixth at Skate Canada last month, later completed a triple Lutz-triple toe loop combination, a triple Salchow, a double axel, a triple Lutz-triple toe loop-double toe loop combination, a triple loop-double toe loop combination, and a triple flip. She received a score of 141.04 points for her presentation and earned a total competition result of 204.91 points.
- Anna SHCHERBAKOVA (RUS) – 229.69
- Alena KOSTORNAIA (RUS) – 221.85
- Wakaba HIGUCHI (JPN) – 204.91
- Kseniia SINITSYNA (RUS) – 198.76
- Karen CHEN (USA) – 194.00
- Mariah BELL (USA) – 190.79
- Ekaterina RYABOVA (AZE) – 186.65
- Yeonjeong PARK (KOR) – 186.11
- Yuhana YOKOI (JPN) – 176.93
- Haein LEE (KOR) – 171.32
- Lea SERNA (FRA) – 170.33
2021 World silver medalist Yuma Kagiyama continued to bid on himself as one of the favorites for the top positions at the 2022 Winter Olympics, in just a few months, with another strong outing in this season’s ISU Grand Prix series.
Skating to music from Gladiator, the 18-year-old Japanese figure skater was over ten points clear of the nearest challenger after the short program and commenced his free skate routine with one difficult and well performed jump after another. Kagiyama opened his performance with a quad Salchow, a triple Lutz, a quad toe loop-triple toe loop combination, and a triple axel-Euler-triple Salchow combination. In the second half of the program, the winner of the Grand Prix of Italy two weeks ago completed a quad toe loop and a triple flip-triple loop combination but popped his final axel attempt.
Kagiyama received a score of 185.77 points for the free skate and earned a total competition score of 286.41 points to increase his advantage and claim another gold.
Fourth after the short program, Shun Sato came close to his personal best free skate score – which remains the world record amongst juniors (177.86 points) – and rose to second place in the overall standings. The 17-year-old Japanese representative began his performance with a quad Lutz, a quad flip, a quad toe loop-single toe loop combination, and a solo quad toe loop. Skating to music from The Phantom of the Opera, Sato also completed a triple axel, a triple flip-Euler-triple Salchow combination, and a triple axel-double toe loop combination. He received the third best free skate score of 177.17 points and earned a total competition result of 264.99 points.
Former U.S. national champion Jason Brown captured a second medal in this season’s series – in addition to his silver at Skate Canada, the 26-year-old American adds bronze this time. Performing his free skate program to music from Schindler’s List, Brown began his performance with a quad Salchow and then a triple axel-double toe loop combination, followed by another solo triple axel. He later doubled a loop attempt but maintained composer and completed a triple flip-triple toe loop combination, a triple Lutz-Euler-triple Salchow combination, and a triple flip. Brown received a free skate score of 174.81 points and earned a total competition score of 264.20 points.
- Yuma KAGIYAMA (JPN) – 286.41
- Shun SATO (JPN) – 264.99
- Jason BROWN (USA) – 264.20
- Deniss VASILJEVS (LAT) – 254.48
- Dmitri ALIEV (RUS) – 253.56
- Keegan MESSING (CAN) – 253.06
- Andrei MOZALEV (RUS) – 248.54
- Adam SIAO HIM FA (FRA) – 243.29
- Kevin AYMOZ (FRA) – 228.08
- Artur DANIELIAN (RUS) – 221.50
- Romain PONSART (FRA) – 212.27
- Gabriele FRANGIPANI (ITA) – 184.27
In the pairs’ event, 2020 European champions Aleksandra Boikova and Dmitrii Kozlovskii looked much improved from their outing at Skate America last month – the Russians improved their season’s best score in the free skate by nearly ten points.
Skating to Malaguena, Boikova and Kozlovskii began their free skate performance with side-by-side triple Salchows and then managed a side-by-side triple toe loop-single toe loop-double toe loop combination. The figure skaters avoided any major mistakes and executed the triple flip and triple loop throws. Boikova and Kozlovskii received a score of 139.79 points for their presentation and earned a total competition score of 216.96 points.
2020 World Junior bronze medalists Iuliia Artemeva and Mikhail Nazarychev earned their second set of medals in this season’s ISU Grand Prix series. Skating to Fire on Fire by Sam Smith and Chronos by Kirill Richter, the young Russian pair completed a side-by-side double axel-Euler-triple Salchow combination to begin their long program and later managed side-by-side double toe loops. They successfully executed a triple flip throw and a triple loop throw. Artemeva and Nazarychev achieved a new personal best free skate score of 132.13 points and new personal best total competition score of 205.15 points.
Fourth after the short program, reigning U.S. national champions Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier were delighted to find themselves on the podium in France. The second-year pair received an under-rotation call on their side-by-side triple toe loop combination sequence but earned positive grades of execution in their remaining technical elements. Knierim and Frazier successfully executed a triple loop throw, side-by-side triple Salchows, and a triple flip throw towards the end of the routine. They received 131.54 points for their free skate performance and earned a total competition score of 201.69 points.
- Aleksandra BOIKOVA / Dmitrii KOZLOVSKII (RUS) – 216.96
- Iuliia ARTEMEVA / Mikhail NAZARYCHEV (RUS) – 205.15
- Alexa KNIERIM / Brandon FRAZIER (USA) – 201.69
- Vanessa JAMES / Eric RADFORD (CAN) – 196.34
- Rebecca GHILARDI / Filippo AMBROSINI (ITA) – 176.19
- Ioulia CHTCHETININA / Mark MAGYAR (HUN) – 152.76
- Camille KOVALEV / Pavel KOVALEV (FRA) – 151.98
- Coline KERIVEN / Noel-Antoine PIERRE (FRA) – 149.48
2018 Olympic silver medalists and four-time World champions Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron ran away with their sixth Internationaux de France title – their second ISU Grand Prix gold this season.
Skating to Elegie (tango) by Gabriel Faure, the six-time French national champions demonstrated superb skating skills and only had a minor error on one of their twizzles. Still, Papadakis and Cizeron were in a class of their own and received a free dance score of 132.17 points, which was close to their result at both the Finlandia Trophy in October and the Grand Prix of Italy two weeks ago. They earned a total competition score of 221.15 points.
Canadian ice dancers Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier maintained second place from the rhythm dance and celebrated their second medal in this season’s series, having won gold at Skate Canada. The 2021 World bronze medalists performed their free dance to The Long and Winding Road by The Beatles. They received a season’s low 121.81 points but most of the participants at this stage have suffered the same. Gilles and Poirier earned a total competition score of 203.16 points.
Russians Alexandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin took their second bronze medal of the season. Skating to We Have a Map of the Piano by Mum and A Time for Us from Romeo and Juliet, the couple received a score of 120.40 points for their free dance and earned a total competition score of 200.29 points.
- Gabriella PAPADAKIS / Guillaume CIZERON (FRA) – 221.25
- Piper GILLES / Paul POIRIER (CAN) – 203.16
- Alexandra STEPANOVA / Ivan BUKIN (RUS) – 200.29
- Evgeniia LOPAREVA / Geoffrey BRISSAUD (FRA) – 175.94
- Christina CARREIRA / Anthony PONOMARENKO (USA) – 175.91
- Annabelle MOROZOV / Andrei BAGIN (RUS) – 172.32
- Juulia TURKKILA / Matthias VERSLUIS (FIN) – 171.02
- Allison REED / Saulius AMBRULEVICIUS (LTU) – 169.83
- Loicia DEMOUGEOT / Theo le MERCIER (FRA) – 156.61
- Jennifer JANSE van RENSBURG / Benjamin STEFFAN (GER) – 154.09