Medals update: Papadakis and Cizeron win gold in Beijing 2022 figure skating - Ice Dance 

Silver medallists four years ago, the duo set a world record score on their way to the Olympic title in a competitive ice dance field. See how the free dance played out.

By Nick McCarvel
Picture by GETTY IMAGES

Four years after Olympic heartbreak, Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron have gone golden.

The four-time world champion French ice dancers soared to victory at the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 on Monday (14 February), skating to a world record total score of 226.98 to claim a long-awaited Olympic title after registering 136.15 in the free dance.

The duo, skating to "Elegie", turned in an elegant and classic performance skating over the Olympic Rings, bettering their silver medal finish behind Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir at PyeongChang 2018.

Papadakis/Cizeron had broken their own world record in the short dance, scoring 90.83 to secure a two-point advantage heading into the free dance.

The podium race was a close one, with Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov of ROC setting a season's best to win silver with a total score of 220.51. Team USA's Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue won the bronze with 218.02.

The reigning U.S. champions Madison Chock and Evan Bates rallied from a disappointing rhythm dance, placing fourth with a total score of 214.77, while Italy's Charlene Guignard and Marco Fabbri finished in fifth with a 207.05.

Papadakis/Cizeron win France's second ice dance gold and first since Marina Anissina and Gwendal Peizerat were victorious at Salt Lake City 2002.

The team have not competed at a world championships since 2019, and the last time they went head-to-head with Sinitsina/Katsalapov, at the 2020 European Championships, they finished second. But they were sparkling from the outset of the rhythm to the finish of the free, embracing centre ice upon finishing and then letting out a roar of emotion as their free dance score came through.

"I think we don’t believe it yet," Papadakis said after the win through a fittingly golden mask. "Honestly it feels completely unreal. We have been waiting for this. This is the medal that we wanted. My brain doesn’t understand it." (Laughs.)

“We worked a lot. We built upon the last Olympics," she continued. "For years this was the only medal that we wanted and the past four years were just about that moment. We worked a lot and it was very hard. ... I feel like I am watching a movie about my life.” (Laughs.)

Added Cizeron: “We just relied on our trust, and we borrowed energy of all of our teammates and coaches. It’s memories, it’s eye contact that I will never forget.”

Katsalapov, meanwhile, becomes the first ice dancer to win Olympic medals with two different partners. At Sochi 2014, he partnered with Elena Ilinykh to capture the bronze.

Free dance: Strong skating highlights Olympic finish

The drama built as the morning turned to early afternoon in Beijing, with the top 10 teams bringing strong skating throughout.

Chock/Bates skated first among the top four, their alien-and-astronaut free dance set to Daft Punk helping them to deliver a career-best free dance of 130.63, putting the pressure on the top three teams from the rhythm dance. They celebrated as much in the "Kiss and Cry" having been disappointed with their rhythm dance score.

“We are disappointed we didn’t medal but we are still proud of our career and what we have achieved,” Chock told reporters.

Hubbell/Donohue skated after their U.S. teammates and Montreal-based training partner and did not shy away from the challenge, their moving "Drowning" program earning another career-best, a 130.89 assuring them a spot on the medal podium.

“All year I wanted to win and was doing my best for it," Hubbell said. "But part of me felt… For me Gabriella and Guillaume winning gold feels right."

The gold would belong to Papadakis/Cizeron, though Sinitsina/Katsalapov continued the streak of strong skates with the "Piano Concerto No. 2" by Sergei Rachmaninov sending a chilling mood through the arena. Both skaters received Level 4 scores on their twizzle sequence, an element that Katsalapov has struggled with in the past.

"This (winning an Olympic medal) is every athlete's dream, it's something they work all their lives for," said Sinitsina. "I was just so hungry, so focused. I feel like I brought forward all of my best qualities to make this performance as successful as it was. ... I am very glad it happened as it did and that we skated to an Olympic medal."

The event's encore belonged indeed to the French, who skated last and would earn France just its third medal of these Winter Games.

Their "Elegie" program sent string music bouncing throughout the arena, and their program built as they skated. After getting through their twizzle sequence, they would melt into the music, earning 27 different 10 marks for their Program Components - out of 36 total.

Upon their finish it was clear the four-time world champions would now be rewarded with an Olympic title. They met their team, long-time coach Romain Hageneaur rink side, and then were congratulated by Hubbell/Donohue and Chock/Bates after their scores had come through - all three teams calling Montreal their training base.

“I think I’ve never been that stressed in my life, but there also was some kind of serenity," said Cizeron on French TV. "We know that we can trust our training, that we can trust ourselves on the ice. There is those 17-18 years of partnership. We could rely on this, but this was still stressful.”

Asked if they would skate on into the next Olympic quad, Papadakis only could commit to next mont's worlds - which are in France.

"The future doesn't really exist right now," she said. "We have not planned anything more past worlds. We wanted to focus on the end of the season - the Olympic Games."

Final standings: Papadakis/ Cizeron lead fierce event

Here's the final standings from the ice dance competition. You can see the results here.

Gold PAPADAKIS Gabriella / CIZERON Guillaume FRA 226.98 
Silver SINITSINA Victoria / KATSALAPOV Nikita ROC 220.51
Bronze HUBBELL Madison / DONOHUE Zachary USA 218.02
4 CHOCK Madison / BATES Evan USA 214.77
5 GUIGNARD Charlene / FABBRI Marco ITA 207.05
6 STEPANOVA Alexandra / BUKIN Ivan ROC 205.07
7 GILLES Piper / POIRIER Paul CAN 204.78
8 SMART Olivia / DIAZ Adrian ESP 199.11
9 FOURNIER BEAUDRY Laurence / SOERENSEN Nikolaj CAN 192.35
10 FEAR Lilah / GIBSON Lewis GBR 191.64
11 HAWAYEK Kaitlin / BAKER Jean-Luc USA 189.74
12 WANG Shiyue / LIU Xinyu CHN 184.42 
13 LAJOIE Marjorie / LAGHA Zachary CAN 181.02
14 DAVIS Diana / SMOLKIN Gleb ROC 179.82 
15 TURKKILA Juulia / VERSLUIS Matthias FIN 173.88 
16 TASCHLEROVA Natalie / TASCHLER Filip CZE 168.32
17 KALISZEK Natalia / SPODYRIEV Maksym POL 167.31 
18 GARABEDIAN Tina / PROULX SENECAL Simon ARM 167.03
19 KAZAKOVA Maria / REVIYA Georgy GEO 164.33
20 NAZAROVA Oleksandra / NIKITIN Maksym UKR 162.87

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