This week’s International Skating Union (ISU) Grand Prix event landed in Grenoble, France. The Internationaux de France ran from November 19-21. This is the second-to-last Grand Prix event before the Grand Prix Final.
Anna Shcherbakova debuted a new short program to the music “Dangerous Affairs” by Inon Zur, to a very favorable reaction of the crowd. She finished with the gold medal, her second of this year’s Grand Prix circuit. Her teammate Aliona Kostornaia finished with the silver medal, a step up from her bronze medal finish at Skate Canada.
It looked like Kseniia Sinitsyna was poised to round out the podium for the Russians in third place after the short program. However, after a free skate with several jumping errors, she finished fourth overall. Wakaba Higuchi of Japan managed to come from a sixth-place finish after the short program to finish in the bronze medal position after the free skate.
American Mariah Bell went from a disappointing tenth place finish after the short program to sixth place overall after an incredible free skate. She will get another chance representing the United States at next week’s Rostelecom Cup. Karen Chen finished the highest for Team USA in this event, finishing fifth overall. This was a marked improvement from her tenth place finish at this year’s Skate Canada International.
French ice dancers Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron absolutely dominated on home ice, as was expected. Their technique and artistry is not so much on another level as it is on another plane of existence all together. If they continue to perform at their absolute best as they have this season, they will continue to be the team to beat at the 2022 Olympics.
Piper Gilles and Paul Porier of Canada came away with the silver medal, their second medal this season on the Grand Prix circuit. This team is among Canada’s only medal contenders in figure skating following the retirement of ice dance legends Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir. Reigning Russian ice dance champions Alexandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin finished with the bronze medal.
The highest finishing American team in this event were Christina Carreira and Anthony Ponomarenko. After ending the short dance in fourth position, their free dance was in seventh place, leaving the team to finish fifth overall. This was an improvement from their eighth place finish at Skate Canada International.
Yuma Kagiyama earned his second gold medal of the Grand Prix events. Fellow countryman Shun Sato came from a fourth place finish after the short program to finish with the silver medal.
Even though we have not yet seen the debut of Japanese figure skating legend Yuzuru Hanyu, the Japanese men have continued to show through this season that they are the ones everyone will be chasing leading up to the 2022 Olympics and beyond.
Jason Brown, representing the United States, finished with a bronze medal. He is such a joy to watch and achieved a season’s best score on his free skate. Though his technical scores are not always as high as other skaters, his artistry, skating skills, and grades of execution, and ability to tell a story on the ice remains exceptional.
The Russian athletes managed to finish in the top two positions in another event at the Internationaux de France. Aleksandra Boikova and Dmitrii Kozlovskii were the favorites coming into this competition and didn’t disappoint with their gold medal finish. Teammates Iuliia Artemeva and Mikhail Nazarychev, the youngest team at this competition at ages 16 and 20 respectively, earned the silver medal.
Reigning US pairs champions Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier finished with the bronze medal. Frazier was visibly upset after a jump error that cost them valuable points, however the team improved from their fourth place finish on home ice at Skate America.
France will get another chance to host figure skating’s top talent when the ISU World Championships come to Montpellier in March 2022. Until then, we are that much closer to the Grand Prix Final, with one final competition next weekend in Russia for the Rostelecom Cup. This season continues to give us everything we want out of an Olympic season, and that doesn’t look to be letting up any time soon.
The Rostelecom Cup will take place November 26-28 2021.