The figure skating season continues with the 2021 Grand Prix of Italy, or ‘Grand Premio d’Italia.’ The event took place from November 5-7, 2021 in Italy’s winter sports capital, Torino. This weekend would have typically been for the Cup of China; however, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, China declined to host an International Skating Union (ISU) Grand Prix event this season.
The women’s event featured the continued domination of Russian skaters, who finished in the gold and silver positions. After a third place short program, reigning World Champion and three-time Russian National Champion Anna Shcherbakova came from behind to finish the competition in the top spot after a spectacular free skate performance. Her compatriot, Maiia Khromykh, who won in an upset victory over her at the Budapest Trophy, came away with a silver medal with an absolutely fiery tango-themed free skate.
The surprise of the women’s event had to be the third place finish of Belgian skater Loena Hendrickx. Hendrickx finished her short program in first place with an electrifying skate to “Caruso.” It was even more gratifying that she skated this program on her 22nd birthday. Unfortunately, she couldn’t maintain the lead after the free skate, but the bronze medal was a fantastic finish for the reigning Belgian national champion.
This was the much-anticipated first outing of the season for French duo Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron. Every competition they are in is practically guaranteed to include two phenomenal performances. They have already cemented their place as legends in the sport, with four World Championship titles and five European titles. They are absolutely the team to beat heading into the 2022 Olympics, and it’s one of the only major competitions this team has not won.
The bronze medal was claimed by the Russian team of Alexandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin. Bukin is the son of legendary Soviet ice dancer Andrei Bukin and Elena Vasiukova, also a former Russian ice dancer.
The Chinese pair of Sui Wenjing and Han Cong won their second Grand Prix title in as many weeks. Their free program to “Bridge Over Troubled Water” is absolutely breathtaking. It seems that every time they perform it, they separate themselves further from their competition. It can’t be stressed enough how much they are establishing themselves as the favorites to compete on home ice in the 2022 Olympics.
The silver medal went to the Chinese pair of Peng Cheng and Jin Yang. They are coached by figure skating legend, and pioneer of the pairs figure skating program in China, Yao Bin. The bronze medal was awarded to the Russian duo of Iuliia Artemeva and Mikhail Nazarychev. In a disappointing turn for the home crowd, the Italian pair of Nicole Della Monica and Matteo Guarise were in third place after the short program and poised to win a medal for their country. However, after a difficult free skate, they finished fourth overall.
The men’s event of the Grand Prix of Italy was arguably the wildest of the competition. Reigning World silver medalist and fan favourite, Yuma Kagiyama of Japan, finished the short program in an incredibly disappointing seventh place. However, after a spectacular and near perfect free skate performance, he stunned fans by finishing in the gold medal position. Kagiyama is proving that he is a contender on the world stage. The 18-year-old will compete again at the Internationaux de France November 19–21.
Italian Daniel Grassl brought the home crowd to its feet after a spectacular free skate performance. Grassl finished the competition with a bronze medal, the only medal for Italy on home ice in this competition. After a seventh place finish two weeks ago in Skate America, this was a remarkable achievement for the newcomer to the senior circuit. Russian Mikhail Kolyada finished in second place.
Reigning Korean champion Cha Junhwan and strong favourite to finish with a medal finished third after the short program. However, after falling on a quadruple toe and having trouble with several other elements of the free skate, he dropped down to sixth. He fought until the very end. Jin Boyang of China dropped spectacularly from first place after the short program to seventh overall after also having a lot of difficulty with his free skate.
The Grand Prix for this season is almost at the halfway point, and we’ve already seen so many incredible performances across all four disciplines. As we get ready for the last three competitions before the Grand Prix Final, we know the Grand Prix will have many more twists and turns to come.
Tune into the Internationaux of France next weekend November 19-21.