Cup of China 2023 Recap and Commentary
The 2023 Grand Prix series landed in Chongqing, China for its fourth stop, and it was… a surprising one, indeed.
The Cup of China 2023 saw some long-awaited Grand Prix debuts (Shoma Uno, Yelim Kim), several upsets (men’s and women’s champions were both somewhat unexpected), and one BIG step forward for Lajoie & Lagha in ice dance.
The continued rise of Adam Siao Him Fa is nothing short of astonishing. Adam, fresh off a win in France last week, came to Cup of China and took his second Grand Prix title after two flawed but fantastic performances. This win makes him the second man to lock in his spot at the Grand Prix Final in December.
In second, King Shoma Uno finally appeared — and it was lovely. After a stellar short program that had him in the lead, he had two falls in his long program that dropped him to silver. Maybe not quite the triumphant return some had hoped for, but Shoma seemed genuinely happy and more focused than ever on being the artist — not just the athlete.
Rounding out the top men was bronze medalist, Mikhail Shaidorov, who became the first person from Kazakhstan to medal at a Grand Prix since the late Denis Ten in 2016.
Ice Dance Competition
Wow, this one was a fight! Favorites Piper Gilles & Paul Poirier of Canada had some trouble in their rhythm dance that opened the door just a crack while fellow Canadians Marjorie Lajoie & Zachary Lagha had the best rhythm dance we may have seen from anyone this season.
While Lajoie and Lagas held first going into the long program, they did drop to silver behind Piper and Paul — but only by less than 2 points! Their overall score of 206.02 — the fifth best score of anyone this season — definitely moves them forward as they head into the Grand Prix final. Also, Canadian Nationals are going to be fascinating!
In third and fourth, two American teams — Caroline Green & Michael Parsons and Eva Pate & Logan Bye — delivered solid performance and scores that continue to make the road to US Nationals an interesting one. Such a deep field of teams vying for the two spots next to Chock & Bates for a trip to Worlds.
While this competition was expected to belong to Loena Hendrickx of Belgium, it was the young Japanese powerhouse, Hana Yoshida, who won the day! After her 4th place debut at Skate America, Hana had another great competition here and surprised even herself with the win.
In second, another great Japanese talent, Rinka Wantanabe, skated perhaps the event’s most solid two programs to improve upon other results this season for a silver.
After a messy but strong short program, Hendricks had an uncharacteristally slow and rather lethargic overall performance in her long, but held onto third and assured her spot at the Grand Prix final as well.
Another step on the path to Worlds for Deanna Stellato-Dudek & Maxime Deschamps was the highlight of the competition, though both programs had noteworthy errors. Regardless, this team was still the class of the field and handily won their second Grand Prix of the season.
The Italian team of Ghilardi & Ambrosini had a strong outing to take the silver, as did the new Chinese team of Peng Cheng & Wang Lei to take the bronze in their first appearance as a team on the Grand Prix circuit.