Graz (Austria) (hooly News)
Stopping for Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron: in search of a sixth consecutive European coronation, the two dancers were beaten against all odds, for fourteen hundredths, by the Russian duo vice-world champion in title, Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov, Saturday in Graz (Austria).
The French couple had not bowed for almost two years.
Admittedly, their margin at the end of the rhythmic dance – five hundredths precisely – was tiny, in a context that was not to their advantage, where the judges had been encouraged not to multiply the ten too early in the competition.
But free dance being their favorite exercise, Papadakis and Cizeron kept the costume of favorites N.1.
It is however Sinitsina and Katsalapov who went up on the highest step of the podium under the white tent which shelters the rural skating rink of Graz, with a total of 220.42 points, against 220.28 for the French duo. A second Russian tandem, Alexandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin, completes it (211.29).
Papadakis and Cizeron, defending Olympic vice-champions and quadruple world champions (2015, 2016, 2018 and 2019), had not suffered the slightest defeat since the Olympics-2018. Even more striking, at European level, they had not been beaten since 2014, their first winter in seniors.
Since their first international coronation at the European Championships in 2015, only the spectacular Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir had managed to beat them, four times between late 2016 and early 2018. All the others had broken their teeth there.
– "We lose an untouchable status" –
"What is still harmful is that we lose an untouchable status", does not hide their coach Romain Haguenauer, their minds immediately turned to the next deadline, the World Championships in Montreal in two months, all the more crucial now.
"We will have to re-mobilize to get there very strong and take back the controls," he explains.
"They will have to be faultless because they are a little more vulnerable" now, insists Marie-France Dubreuil, who also works with Papadakis and Cizeron in Montreal, where they have been installed since the summer of 2014.
Impeccable, this is precisely what the five-time European champions on the Austrian ice were not Saturday, guilty of several imperfections on technical elements.
The sound system might spit loudly "The Kings of the World" from the musical "Romeo and Juliet" during the long wait in the "kiss and cry" – more than seven minutes! – French dancers and their trainers, the number 2 was displayed at the end of their notes.
"Inevitably, when we make small mistakes and we don't win a title, we are disappointed, but we are lucky that we have the pleasure, the side of creating emotions, and being in connection with the public, "says Papadakis.
"It was not a perfect competition for us, it happens and it will boost us even more to work afterwards," adds Cizeron.
– "The match has started" for the JO-2022 –
What if, by dint of always winning, Papadakis and Cizeron had relaxed slightly, even without realizing it?
"There was like a lack of finish in two, three elements. It may be necessary to find more niac to be more efficient on each element and finish things off well," suggests Haguenauer.
"We are going to analyze the performances, the training sessions, to find out if there is a small drop in their heads, in their commitment or in their competitiveness, perhaps," he added.
Because, beyond this European competition, what will take shape line by line, it is the table for the JO-2022, where Papadakis and Cizeron will aspire to Olympic gold, the only one which is still lacking in their sumptuous prize list .
"They dominated, they are beaten, it is sure that the match is launched", decides Haguenauer.
"I would have preferred that the booster shot was not that big, but sometimes it takes those little moments. We must not give up now," added Dubreuil.
The Austrian ice rink definitely does not succeed for the French team: as of Wednesday, Kévin Aymoz, a legitimate contender for gold, had not himself qualified for the free men's program after a short nightmare.
Russia, on the contrary, is all smiles: after Dmitri Aliyev on the men's side on Thursday, and Aleksandra Boikava and Dmitrii Kozlovskii in pairs on Friday, it has now pocketed the first three gold medals at stake. And the fourth and last is promised at the end of the ladies' free program on Saturday evening.
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