Recap: 2023 Grand Prix de France


By Matteo Morelli | Skating photos by Robin Ritoss

For the second year in a row, the Grand Prix de France took place in Angers’ IceParc. The third Grand Prix event of the season saw silver world medallist Charlene Guignard & Marco Fabbri of Italy leading across both segments of the event, recording the second highest total so far after Piper Gilles & Paul Poirier at Skate Canada; Laurence Fournier-Beaudry & Nikolaj Sørensen of Canada confidently took the second place, while in third and adding another grand prix medal this season were France’s Evgeniia Lopareva & Geoffrey Brissaud.

Event Recap
Charlene Guignard & Marco Fabbri (pictured, right) started their season early this year at Lombardia Trophy. The very experienced Italian team showed a great shape at their first Grand Prix of this season, where they collected their tenth Grand Prix medal (including finals) of their career.

For their 80s rhythm dance, they chose “Holding out for a hero” by Bonnie Tyler and “Against all odds” by Phil Collins, which they present with bright light blue and pink costumes.

“When we started listening to music from the 80s, we could choose rock music or some aerobic style music, but when we heard ‘Holding out for a hero’ we felt that it was a mix between these two genres and could allow us to do something different”, Fabbri shared.

“We wanted costumes that were not invisible, this is the season we want to do something different, funny, that we would have never chosen for the free dance”, he added.

Their free dance is based on the movie “The theory of everything”.

“Stephen Hawking was sick and another person (his wife) spent a lot of her life just supporting him and taking care of him”, Marco said. “We wanted to show the connection of two people, their story of mutual support, strong interactions, something more emotional for us compared from last season”.

This free is closer to a style that the Italian team is familiar with and feel more at ease.

“Last year, we decided to skate on a dark music: it demanded a lot, that programme was really hard because every movement had to be really sharp, with a lot of energy”, Fabbri explained. “Even though the final result was really good, we felt (the programme) was not too natural for us, so this year we wanted to go back to something more natural for us, that could allow us to show our connection more”.

Canada’s Laurence Fournier-Beaudry & Nikolaj Sørensen (pictured, left) ended up second in both segments on the event.

Their rhythm dance is based on the famous “Top Gun” movie: everything in this programme recalls it, from the music to the costume, with Nikolaj reproducing the iconic US Navy jacket wore by Tom Cruise.

“This is a programme that we love a lot, it is based on a very cool 1980s movie”, Sørensen said. “It has rock, a love story, all connected in this programme”.

They felt their rhythm dance at this event made up for the shaky start they had at Finlandia Trophy earlier in the season.

Their free dance is based on “Notre dame de Paris”, a programme which their coach Marie-France Dubreil told them it could become their masterpiece.

“We went to a second-hand store and found a CD that you can’t find on Spotify”, Sørensen shared. “We found the piece ‘Ave Maria’, we didn’t want to do the normal version of Notre dame de Paris that everybody knows has been done over and over again”.

“We like varying a bit what we do in style, last year we had Flamenco and (this year) we wanted to go into more of a modern touch where we can expand ourselves more”, Fournier-Beaudry added.

Evgeniia Lopareva & Geoffrey Brissaud’s add another bronze medal to the one they have already won at Skate America. Although their total scores were not as high as at their first Grand Prix event, they felt they improved a lot from it.

“From the Grand Prix at Skate America we were already focussing on the performance part of both programmes, and looking back at this competition I think we did that because the score for our free was higher already”, Lopareva shared. “We will keep fixing our performance and come back to technique, because it was lower in this competition than at Skate America”.

Their rhythm dance’s music by Mylene Farmer found a very positive reception from the local crowd.

“I felt like it was our best rhythm dance performance this season, I felt emotionally we performed really well and we really felt the support of the public”, Lopareva said.

USA’s Christina Carreira & Anthony Ponomarenko ended in fourth place, and want to keep working on improving their results.

“We are happy with how we skated, there were a couple of technical mistakes and it wasn’t our best, but we are still happy with how we did”, Carreira shared.

Their rhythm dance is based on music by Stevie Nicks, whilst their free dance is on music from the movie “Perfume – The story of a murderer”, which they skate with great intensity.

Canada’s Marie-Jade Lauriault & Romain le Gac always enjoy coming back to France, the country they represented until 2021. In their rhythm dance they skate on music by INKX, whilst their free is a very original programme based on the soundtrack of Tim Burton’s “Corpse Bride”. They were happy to be back on the ice in full shape, after Romain had a hernia to deal with in summer.

Korea’s Hanna Lim & Ye Quan already improved their results from Skate America, going from a ninth-place finish there to a sixth-place finish at this event, where they skated a convincing free on French music of “Umbrellas of Cherbourg”.

Spain’s Olivia Smart & Tim Dieck were granted a second Grand Prix spot after USA’s Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker withdrew due to health reasons. With an eight-place finish, both their segments suffered a bit, but with this being their first season together it is already remarkable to see how much work this experienced team is putting in.

USA’s Lorraine McNamara & Anton Spiridonov ended in ninth place, and are going to compete again at NHK Trophy. Another two French teams competed at this event, with this being their only Grand Prix assignment this season: Marie Dupayage & Thomas Nabais, which ended in seventh place, and Natacha Lagouge & Arnaud Caffa, which ended in tenth place.

Qualification standings
Half way through the Grand Prix series, the qualification standings for the Grand Prix Final are:

22 points: Evgeniia Lopareva & Geoffrey Brissaud (France)
15 points:  Piper Gilles & Paul Poirier (Canada), Charlene Guignard & Marco Fabbri (Italy), Madison Chock & Evan Bates (USA)
13 points: Lilah Fear & Lewis Gibson (Great Britain); Laurence Fournier-Beaudry & Nikolaj Sørensen (Canada); Marjorie Lajoie & Zachary Lagha (Canada)
11 points: Allison Reed & Saulius Ambrulevičius (Lithuania)

Next Grand Prix
Cup of China is going to be the fourth Grand Prix event of the season. Piper Gilles & Paul Poirier will head into their second Grand Prix wanting to keep the very high standards they have already set at Skate Canada; also from Canada, Marjorie Lajoie & Zachary Lagha will try to earn another medal to add to their silver at Skate America. From the USA, Caroline Green & Michael Parsons will try to improve on their fourth-place finish at Skate America and leave the event with a medal. Czech Republic’s Natálie Taschlerová & Filip Taschler had to withdraw from the event because of medical reasons; we wish them a speedy recovery and to be back on the ice soon. As of now, they have not yet been replaced and therefore the event could run with only nine ice dance teams.

Cup of China takes place from November 10-12.

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