The ice dance event in the 2023 World Championships was full of successes for the teams participating, from first World Championship wins to a plethora of season’s and personal bests. The three teams on the podium in Saitama had all medaled at this season’s Grand Prix Final, while unforgettable and top-quality performances were also seen in countless other performances from other skaters. Here is a closer look into some of the noteworthy skates from the competition!
🥇 Madison Chock / Evan Bates (USA)
🥈 Charlene Guignard / Marco Fabbri (Italy)
🥉 Piper Gilles / Paul Poirier (Canada)
Winning the Ice Dance event and their first Worlds gold medal were Madison Chock and Evan Bates of the USA, with 226.01 points. Their rhythm dance to a remix of ‘Let’s Dance’ showed a neat set of opening twizzles, given level fours and a +3.54 grade of execution. It was a fun and engaging program, with a great curve lift (also a level four) functioning as a transition into the vibrant conclusion of the program, which was amplified in their choreo rhythm sequence. The skate was given 91.94 points, a personal best. In their free dance to ‘Souffrance’ and ‘Les Tectoniques’, the team opened with the choreo assist jump to draw the audience into their performance. They were rewarded well by the judges for the skate and earned high scores throughout, with level fours for six elements. Chock and Bates have chosen ambitious and challenging pieces of music, but this made for a conceptual and intriguing program. It was not an error-free performance, with a fall before the penultimate element, but this mistake did not affect their scores and they earned another personal best of 134.07 points.
In second place were Charlene Guignard and Marco Fabbri of Italy, with 219.85 points: they too earned PBs for both the rhythm and free dances in Saitama. The team are highly skilled technicians, and the twizzles in the rhythm dance were carried out with speed and remarkable ice coverage, which was reflected in the judges’ assessment of the element, as it was given level fours and +3.09 in GOE. The intensity and charisma possessed by both skaters was evident in the skate, and they have developed their own approach and style to the discipline, which renders their performances memorable. Guignard and Fabbri were well-matched in their choreo rhythm sequence, and maintained this top quality throughout the entirety of the RD. Their free dance was another intense program, and they committed to this tonality with skill. They opened with a centered and controlled dance spin, given a level four and +2.49 GOE. Again, their twizzles were in synchrony and fast, although there was a slight loss of balance in the second set. The team paid great attention to the percussive accents in the latter half of their program and demonstrated creative shapes in the choreography. They received a score of 131.64 for their performance.
The bronze medals went to Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier of Canada, with a total score of 217.88 points. In their rhythm dance set to ‘Do What I Do’ and ‘Rhythm Only’, they expressed themselves with confidence and charm, complementing the music choice. They projected well toward the audience members and used speed in the level four rotational lift to build up to the fun and engaging finish of the program. It was a clean skate from the team, with both a high TES and PCS to make for a total of 87.34 points. In their free dance to pieces from Lloyd Webber’s ‘Evita’, they emulated the characters of the story with dedication, opening with one foot turns in order to bring the audience into the narrative. Both Gilles and Poirier emoted convincingly and with skill, rendering the emotional breadth of the musical. The twizzles and lifts all came out as level fours. The skate matched the increasing grandeur and scale of the climactic ‘Don’t Cry For Me Argentina’, using three lifts and the choreo assist jump to reach the passionate ending.
Lilah Fear and Lewis Gibson of Great Britain finished in fourth place in Japan. They delivered two clean programs, and chose uptempo, vibrant music choices for both the rhythm and free dances, which work well with their style. In their rhythm dance, their skill as performers enabled them to really sell the ‘Let’s Get Loud’ ending to the program, and their skate was given a season’s best of 86.56. In their Lady Gaga free dance, they again secured high levels and grades of execution across the elements, with their opening stationary and rotational lifts being a level four with +3.98 GOE. The program brought to the fore the strength of the team’s showmanship, especially in the choreo step, which was a highlight as always and received fives and fours from all judges.
In fifth place were Laurence Fournier Beaudry and Nikolaj Soerensen of Canada. Their rhythm dance opened with a slower tempo in the midline step and showed their dedication to each part of the choreography, committing to each position for a length of time and highlighting the lines of their skating. Each element was well integrated into the overall choreography and the subsequent element, with the lift blending seamlessly into the twizzles; both of these were given level fours. Their free dance to a variety of music including Morricone’s ‘Il Mercenario’ and Rodriguez’s ‘El Mariachi’ demonstrated the team’s mastery of this dance style, and they skated with precision and flow. The skate opened with a perfectly matched series of twizzles, given level fours and +2.28 GOE. Their second element, the stationary and rotational lifts, also showed top quality. The climax of their program was energetic, and they used the choreo step skillfully to accentuate this. The clean skate was given a total segment score of 128.45.
Caroline Green and Michael Parsons of the USA finished in sixth place with a total of 201.44 points. Their rhythm dance to ‘Vocalizado’, ‘Historia De Un Amor’ and ‘Boutique’ opened with intensity and focus, and both skaters accentuated all the details and beats of the music. The curve lift matched the vocals of their music perfectly, and as such it was a well-choreographed and well-performed program, with Green and Parsons committing fully to each movement. Their free dance, set to ‘Rhapsody in Blue’, is constructed by effectively condensing the extended piece into the length of a free dance, and captures the essence of Gershwin’s music. They reflected both the slower sections to the louder, more vibrantly jazzy sections in their skating, changing their facial expressions and movements to match these different nuances. Their rotational lift was accompanied by the sliding piano scale and was a testament to the team’s remarkable musicality and charm. Their program built up to the climax using the choreo step and slide, concluding another clean skate. They earned PBs in both the RD and FD for a total of 201.44.
Seventh in both the rhythm and free dances, Allison Reed and Saulius Ambrulevicius of Lithuania finished seventh place overall. They projected well towards the audience in their rhythm dance to music by Yello, with vibrant choreography. There was a buoyancy to their skating, especially in the pattern dance-type step sequence. The two were in sync throughout the midline steps as well as the twizzles and used the rotational lift to transition into the faster ending of their program: this latter was given a level four and +1.51 GOE. Their free dance was comprised of modern choreography, and ‘Insomnia’ had a strong beat which they both showed great attention to. Their movements demonstrated creativity, especially in the choreographic slide, with the team crafting interesting shapes with their bodies and showing innovation regarding the ways in which they interacted on the ice. They are both strong dancers and brought high energy to the ice.
Nathalie Taschlerova and Filip Taschler of Czechia came eighth. The two skaters cover the ice with incredible speed and showcase dynamism and power in their movements, and in Saitama, the scale of their every motion seemed to fill the rink. Their rhythm dance opened with Shakira’s ‘Hips Don’t Lie’ and they matched the vivacity of the piece. Their twizzles were synchronised and executed with precision, earning level fours and a grade of execution of +2.74 from the judges. The section accompanied by Iglesias’s ‘Hero’ enabled them to create an area of lyricism and softer skating and showcased the versatility of their style. Their free dance started with Richter’s ‘On the Nature of Daylight’ and possessed a captivating opening with beautiful positions held long enough to be fully admired; their ability to quickly accumulate speed also highlighted their athleticism alongside their laudable artistry. Voiceovers within programs are always challenging and a risk, but Taschlerova and Taschler conveyed the words with their bodies in a successful and intense manner; they utilised choreography which connected with the spoken word without being a direct mimesis of it, rather choosing to encapsulate its emotion and thus bringing home the message of their program relating to climate change and nature. They were rewarded with a PB score of 119.83.
2023 European and 2022 GP Espoo bronze medalists Juulia Turkkila and Matthias Versluis of Finland finished ninth in Saitama. In their rhythm dance, they emoted well towards the judges and spectators and earned level fours in their opening twizzles, and later earned applause from the audience for their curve lift, also a level four. Although the concluding midline steps were given just level twos, indicating that there is still more technical fine-tuning to be done, it was an exciting finish to the program. Performing to music by Schubert in their free dance, Turkkila and Versluis demonstrated continuous fluidity in their skating, which mirrored the piano pieces. There was a slight loss of balance on their twizzles, which lost out on a level and also gave them a negative GOE of -0.73. Despite this mistake, they were clean elsewhere, and concluded with a beautiful and creative lift which demonstrated elegant lines.
Christina Carreira and Anthony Ponomarenko of the USA were tenth in the rhythm dance, eleventh in the free dance, and tenth overall. The team always uses the entirety of their bodies to express their music choices, and in the rhythm dance, they matched the increasing volume and emotion of the ‘Love Story’ theme through their movements. Their choreo rhythm sequence ended with a cartwheel and triumphant finish position, and they were given 75.24 points for the skate. In their free dance to the soundtrack of ‘Backbone’ and ‘Summertime’, Carreira and Ponomarenko captured the suave and jazzy nature of the pieces with charm and allure. The opening of the program was relatively quiet, but they delivered it with dedication and succeeded in drawing the audience in. Although the one-foot turns were given level twos, they were nonetheless well-timed with each other and the music. It was a completely different style from that of their rhythm dance and reflected the range of their repertoire.
Skating in front of a home audience, Kana Muramoto and Daisuke Takahashi of Japan finished eleventh with 188.87 points. A competition which Takahashi won in 2010 as a singles skater, there was no doubt pressure on the two from media and fans, but they produced a pair of high-quality performances. Both skaters are charismatic athletes who know how to capture and maintain an audience’s attention; they played on this in their rhythm dance, getting the crowd going especially in their midline step and rotational lift, the final two elements of the high-energy program. Their twizzles were given level fours, although the GOE was just +0.57. Their ‘Phantom of the Opera’ free dance began with the choreo character step, with the use of innovative choreography and floorwork, opening the narrative of their program and the musical: a story which they skillfully tell without needing any words to do so. This time, they received +2.18 GOE for their twizzles. It is a popular choice of music, but by no means an easy one, and one that demands both complexity and sensitivity to the music; Muramoto and Takahashi both do so, changing the tonality of their movements throughout the program, from the intense ‘Phantom of the Opera’ theme to the more expansive, delicate sections of ‘Music of the Night’. They used the diagonal step to convey the emotional climax of the performance and finished the clean program with a lift to earn a PB of 115.95.