Recap and Commentary for the Grand Prix Final 2023
The Grand Prix Final 2023 is now complete, and we knew it would be a wild one — we just didn’t know HOW wild! From historic jumps to messy twizzles, the competitors in Beijing, China, kept us guessing until the very end, and we love them for it.
One of the most stacked men’s final’s in recent memory was bound to be exciting, but a quad axel in the short program came as a bit of a shock (at least to us!). While Ilia Malinin had been focused on progressing his composition scores earlier this season, he threw down the gauntlet here by landing the first quad axel in a short program ever.
That gave his the thinnest lead over World Champion Shoma Uno going into the long. Both men had extraordinary free skates, with Shoma showing off his ever-increasing artistic brilliance — and bringing a lot of heat on the jumps as well! But Ilia, who fell on the quad axel here but landed his first quad loop in competition, had just too much technical fire power to beat — winning with his personal best score.
With Shoma firmly in silver medal position, the bronze went to Japan’s comeback kid — Yuma Kagiama. A brilliant short program and a flawed but emotive free skate punctuated by his remarkable skating skills gave him the well-deserved medal and a great boost going into the back-half of the season.
Coming into Beijing, the favorite based on performance throughout the season so far was Adam Siao Him Fa from France. Unfortunately, his typically stellar quad lutz betrayed him in the short program — leaving him too far behind (even with a fantastic, redemptive long program) to fulfill the promise. However, watch for him to still be a big player for the European and World titles this season!
Rounding out the six men, Kao Miura from Japan competed while ill and was unable to skate up to his usual standards. Still, he showed so much fight and talent — he’s one to watch!
In sixth, after a stunning short program, the exquisite Kevin Aymoz had two terrible falls in his free skate that he unfortunately never recovered from. Hoping he can shake this one off and put it behind him fast going into French nationals!
- Ilia Malinin, USA, 314.66 points
- Shoma Uno, JPN, 297.34
- Yuma Kagiyama, JPN, 288.65
- Adam Siao Him Fa, FRA, 278.28
- Kao Miura, JPN, 261.53
- Kevin Aymoz, FRA, 219.91
Ice Dance Competition
Typically we have an inkling of what to expect in the dance event going into a final. This season, with the unexpected win of Fear & Gibson at NHK Trophy, as well as some very “all over the place” scoring, it felt a little more up in the air.
However, in the end, the three teams on the podium were exactly who we would have expected when the season began.
World Champions Madison Chock & Evan Bates reminded everyone why they won Worlds 2023 and skated two clean, inventive, gorgeous programs to take the gold.
In silver position, the Italian team of Charlene Guignard & Marco Fabbri shook off the vibes from their NHK defeat and came in on fire. They looked more united and connected than ever, and proved again why they are one of the best teams currently competing.
In bronze position, the dramatic and lovely team of Piper Gilles & Paul Porrier of Canada seemed to be skating only for the joy of it and for each other. Programs we have not been super fond of this season showed massive improvement and displayed their true artistry in wonderful ways.
A spectacular podium all in all — one we may see in this order or another again at Worlds next March.
All three other teams had uncharacteristic issues with twizzles in the rhythm dance that kept them far behind the top three.
In fourth, Britain’s Lilah Fear & Lewis Gibson came back with a righteous rendition of their Rocky program in the free skate to hold their just-off-the-podium spot.
Canada’s Lawrence Fournier Beaudry & Nikolaj Soerensen smoldered a little less than usual but still showed very well to hang on to fifth spot.
And Marjorie Lajoie & Zachary Lagha from Canada had a mesmerizing free dance that made us wonder just how close they will be with Fournier Beaudry & Soerensen when Canadian Nationals come around.
- Madison Chock / Evan Bates, USA, 221.61
- Charlène Guignard / Marco Fabbri, ITA, 215.51
- Piper Gilles / Paul Poirier, CAN, 213.58
- Lilah Fear / Lewis Gibson, GBR, 202.27
- Laurence Fournier Beaudry / Nikolaj Sørensen, CAN, 195.57
- Majorie Lajoie / Zachary Lagha, CAN, 193.63
As was predicted/destined in the stars, reigning figure skating queen, Kaori Sakamoto dominated this competition with two nearly flawless skates. Did she switch her edge on the lutz? Probably. Did she flub a flip? Indeed. But did she also skate with confidence, grace, power, and heart. All of the above! A gold for the competition and a forever gold in our hearts.
In second, Belgium’s Loena Hendrickx had a strong short program and a mostly good free program that, while looking a little sluggish, still showed why she is consistently on podiums. Looking forward to seeing how the rest of her season progresses after illness and injury has taken a bit of the wind out of her sails the past few weeks.
In third, a somewhat unexpected showing from Japan’s rising star, Hana Yoshida, made people take notice. Her triple axel in the long program may have been ever-so-slightly under-rotated, but regardless she absolutely shined in the free skate following an iffy short to take the medal.
In fourth, the up-in-coming star from Belgium, Nina Pinzarrone, showed again her consistency under pressure with two solid programs. Keep an eye on her — she’s on the hunt for all of the medals.
In fifth, after a devastating short program that left her looking to be in shock, Isabeau Levito from the US came back for some redemption in the free skate and got it. A rough competition for her that, similar to Kevin Aymoz, we hope she can put behind her quickly going into Nationals.
In sixth, Japan’s Rion Sumiyoshi had two disappointing skates that kept her out of the running here. Her long program showed more fight and much of the promise we’d seen from her earlier in the season, but under-rotations and skating skills not quite as advanced as many in the field held her back here. Still, she’s an outstanding skater and another who will be back here again in the future.
- Kaori Sakamoto, JPN, 225.70 points
- Loena Hendrickx, BEL, 203.36
- Hana Yoshida, JPN, 203.16
- Nina Pinzarrone, BEL, 194.91
- Isabeau Levito, USA, 191.86
- Rion Sumiyoshi, JPN, 180.39
Fresh from back-to-back wins at Cup of China and NHK Trophy, Germany’s Minerva Fabienne Hase & Nikita Volodin kept the streak alive with another win — this one over the reigning World bronze medalists and the unequivocal favorites for the championship coming in. This competition was ever-so-close, but in the end, this relatively new team proved to be this season’s surprise winners.
In second, Italy’s Sara Conti & Niccolo Macii finally seem to have shaken off the issues that plagued them so far this season and skated two lovely programs that almost won them the competition. Hoping they can keep the momentum and thrive in the second half of the season.
In third, the favorites coming in from Canada, Deanna Stellato Dudek & Maxime Dechamps, had errors in both their short and long programs that held them back from capturing the top spot. On the bright side, even with the errors their scores were incredibly close the two teams ahead of them — showing that their overall ceiling for these programs is higher and that a World title is absolutely within reach.
In fourth place, Hungary’s team of Maria Pavlova & Alexei Sviatchenko were alternates who were subbed in for the injured Hocke & Kunkel — and showed they absolutely belonged in this competition. Strong programs and an overall sense of confidence could take this team far.
In fifth, the other Italian pair of Rebecca Ghilardi & Filippo Ambrosini showed up strong and, while they made errors, should come away from this competition quite proud of both programs.
In sixth, after a few disappointing mistakes, Canada’s rising stars of Lia Pereira & Trennt Michaud were unable to capitalize on their success from earlier in the season. However, as a team still in their first two seasons at their first Grand Prix Final, they should also walk away feeling great about where they are headed.
- Minerva Fabienne Hase / Nikita Volodin, GER, 206.43 points
- Sara Conti / Niccolò Macii, ITA, 205.88
- Deanna Stellato-Dudek / Maxime Deschamps, CAN, 204.30
- Maria Pavlova / Alexei Sviatchenko, HUN, 192.02
- Rebecca Ghilardi / Filippo Ambrosini, ITA, 188.85
- Lia Pereira / Trennt Michaud, CAN, 185.16