– World bronze medalists Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier of Canada danced to a 6.87-point lead over second-placed Americans Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker in Friday’s rhythmic dance at the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating in Espoo, Finland.
The Skate Canada Champions delivered an upbeat and precise rendition of “Do What I Do,” compiling a level four for the twizzles, pattern dance step sequence and rotational lift, as well as a midline step sequence from level three to establish a new personal best of 87.80 points.
“This being the second event of our season, when we first arrived we were a bit excited and really wanted to show our best skating here. So today’s performance required a lot of mental toughness,” Poirier said.
“We know there is still more of us to give as the season progresses, but we are very happy with the development of the programme,” said Gilles.
Skate America silver medalists Hawayek and Baker scored 80.93 with their entertaining dance, breaking the 80-point barrier for the first time and edging compatriots Christina Carreira and Anthony Ponomarenko into third place with 76.20.
Chinese couple Wang Shiyue and Liu Xinyu, who ranked 12th at Beijing 2022 to set a new best result for Chinese ice dancers at the Winter Olympics last February and finished seventh at the NHK Trophy last week, ranked seventh place with a score of 69.95 as they headed into Saturday’s Free Dance.
Kevin Aymoz of France surprisingly led the men’s short program with 88.96, beating heavy favorite Ilia Malinin of the United States by 3.39 points. Japan‘s Shun Sato came third with an additional 3.98 points.
Reigning world silver medalist Loena Hendrickx of Belgium topped the women’s short program with a score of 74.88, ahead of Japan’s two-time Four Continents champion Mai Mihara by 1.30 points. Another Japanese skater, Mana Kawabe, sat in third place.
Rebecca Ghilardi and Filippo Ambrosini of Italy skated to the lead in the pairs short program with a personal best score of 67.31 points. Anastasiia Smirnova and Danylo Siianytsina of the United States and Anastasiia Metelkina and Daniil Parkman of Georgia followed with 63.01 and 62.59 respectively.
The Espoo Grand Prix, scheduled for November 25-27, is the sixth and final event of the 2022-2023 ISU Figure Skating Grand Prix Series. ■