The 2018 Olympic vice-champions and five-time European champions Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron put a golden final touch to their season by winning a fifth world title on Saturday in Montpellier. A first for French skating.
A month after the much-desired Olympic gold, Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron put a golden final touch to their season by winning a fifth world title on Saturday in Montpellier. A first for French skating. Earlier in the day, recent Olympic champion and outgoing three-time world champion Nathan Chen and injured and absent icon Yuzuru Hanyu, Japan’s Shoma Uno adorned themselves with planetary gold for the first time. He beat his young compatriot Yuma Kagiyama (18) and the American Vincent Zhou.
She remained faithful to her sequined golden dress worn in Beijing, swapped her red top for a brown one, but once again Papadakis and Cizeron, beyond the technique, were able to release the emotional intensity which allows them to win hearts far beyond skating insiders. They were rewarded with a total of 229.82 points, a new world record. The nearly 9,000 spectators at the Montpellier ice rink had capsized before that, from the presentation of the French duo. And, later, took over the Marseillaise sung by an opera singer.
“It’s an indescribable feeling to hear so many people screaming for you. We both had goosebumps. It was really hard to hold back our tears before our performance”, admits Cizeron. “It was very moving to be here with the French public. It’s even better than we could have imagined,” he adds.
Papadakis and Cizeron edged two American duos, Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue (222.39 for their most recent competition), and Madison Chock and Evan Bates (216.83). All four their training partners in Montreal, and their close friends, as evidenced by their long embraces, and their hands tied up on the podium. “We leave with a unique friendship in sport,” said Hubbell. “I see us as a team before seeing them as competitors. I see them as the only ones who can understand what I’m going through,” explains Papadakis.
“It was wonderful, she continues. We could not have had a more beautiful event, with the public, the atmosphere, our whole family, and the fact of finishing on the podium with people who are part of our best friends. It makes the end of this cycle quite exceptional.” Excluded like all Russians in response to the invasion of Ukraine, Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov, outgoing world champions and Olympic silver medalists in Beijing, were absent.
At 26 for her, and 27 for him, Papadakis and Cizeron, also 2018 Olympic vice-champions and five-time European champions (2015-2019), become the first five-time world champions in the history of French skating. Andrée and Pierre Brunet, the last to be able to compete with them at the top of the pantheon of tricolor skating with their two Olympic titles obtained in pairs in the interwar period (1928 and 1932), stopped at four world titles.
Above all, Papadakis and Cizeron left their mark on the history of ice dancing a little more: only the Soviets Lyudmila Pakhomova and Alexandr Gorshkov are now ahead of them in the number of world crowns, with six topped in the 1970s. world championship, a month after Olympic gold, puts the dreamed final touch to a crucial season perfectly mastered. Before, the Clermont dancers remained on twenty months spent without competition, between their defeat in January 2020 at the European Championships – their only since the Olympics-2018 – and last October, mainly because of the Covid-19 pandemic and the difficulties travel for them who have lived in Montreal since 2014.
“It was like a bonus competition. For four years, we were focused on the Olympics, we really wanted the Olympic gold medal. Coming there, it was really a celebration”, describes the skater. And then, what do Papadakis and Cizeron have in store? Mystery for now. “The future doesn’t really exist at the moment,” she replied to the 2022 Olympics.” “We’ll see,” he limited himself to saying on Saturday. “If it was the last (moment), that will have been beautiful until the end. Today, everything was perfect, they had a perfect season, a perfect comeback, they are immense champions”, greets Romain Haguenauer, their coach for ten years.
“We don’t know. We didn’t talk about it, he explained to AFP the day before. All that will mature in their heads, they will have a few months to find out where they are, what they want to do, their desires, they also have to talk to each other.” In the meantime, to bottles of water with their effigy, they would have “preferred a bottle of champagne”, smiles Cizeron. “It’s not too late,” says Papadakis.