Ice dancing electrifies at Beijing Olympics

Illustration by Sofia Reeves

On Feb. 14, French ice dance team Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron won the gold medal for ice dance at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing with 226.98 points. Their win followed on the heels of their silver medal performance at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, where Canada’s Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, who have since stepped away from ice skating, won gold.

When I watched the 2018 ice dance finals, I was captivated by Virtue and Moir, and found myself hooked on ice dancing. I eagerly awaited the 2022 Winter Olympics for ice dance alone.

Ice dance is a sport that incorporates elements of figure skating and ballroom dancing. Scores consist of a combination of rhythm dance and free dance scores. During this year’s Olympics, the rhythm dance competition took place on Feb. 12, and the rankings determined the running order for the free dance on Feb. 14.

Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov, representing the Russian Olympic Committee, won silver with 220.51 points. American pair Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue won bronze with 218.02 points, and fellow United States ice skaters Madison Chock and Evan Bates finished in fourth place with 214.77 points. 

Papadakis and Cizeron stood out to the judges due to their perfectly-synchronized twizzles, straight line lift, curve lift and combination spin, according to ESPN. With their total of 226.98 points, Papadakis and Cizeron broke their own world record for ice dance, beating their 2019 NHK Trophy record of 226.61 points. 

According to NBC’s Olympics website, the pair’s bronze medal makes this year’s games the fifth Olympics in a row where the U.S. has medaled in ice dance.

Hubbell and Donohue were my personal favorite pair from the event. In coordinating outfits decked out in glitter, with Hubbell in lilac and Donohue in deep, sheer purple, they skated to the song “Drowning” by Anne Sila with palpable energy, chemistry and poise. 

“They bring you to center ice with them,” Johnny Weir, commentator and former U.S. figure skater, said. “Their performances feel like you’re watching something behind closed doors; an incredibly personal, authentic moment.”

They executed bold, exciting moves while almost perfectly in sync, and their effortless grace and intriguing skills prominently displayed their technical prowess. At one particularly thrilling moment in their routine, Donohue lifted Hubbell from behind, pulling her legs over his head and holding her entire body in the air in a move reminiscent of the lift in “Dirty Dancing.”

Just moments later, Hubbell wrapped both of her hands behind Donohue’s neck, holding on tightly as Donohue spun both of them around for five solid seconds. 

ESPN reports that Hubbell and Donohue have already announced plans to retire, making this the last time they will compete in the Olympics. Gold medalists Papadakis and Cizeron have yet to announce any plans for their future.

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