On Saturday the competition at the 2019 edition of the Internationaux de France came to an end at the Patinoire Polesud in Grenoble. With the rain continuing to fall as it had done all week, it was perhaps fittings that there were also signs of pure emotion inside the rink.
The men’s free skating opened proceedings and predictably was won by two-time World champion Nathan Chen by a comfortable margin. Earlier in the same group, Shoma Uno had taken to the ice and floundered disastrously. The PyeongChang Olympic silver medallist is going coachless this season and so far it has not been working out well for him. He seemed lost on the ice with his jumps having deserted him. There was extremely warm support for him from the audience when he finished and sat alone in the kiss and cry, but it was distressing and unusual to see him so emotional. The one thing that is very clear is that no matter how good a skater you are you need a coach.
There were tears of joy on the other hand from Kevin Aymoz who pulled out a special performance for his family and friends in his hometown. The Grenoble native had a previous highest Grand Prix placement of fifth and it was lovely to see home much a bronze medal meant to him.
There was more French success later on in the afternoon. Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron unveiled their new free dance to “Find Me” by Forest Black and it was as innovative and captivating as we have come to expect from the four-time World champion. Papadakis and Cizeron may not have earned another world record score here in Grenoble, but it is sure to come.
For the third successive Grand Prix event, a Russian lady fresh to the senior circuit took the title. This week it was Alena Kostornaia and with assistance from two triple Axel in her free skating put almost twenty points between her and Olympic champion Alina Zagitova in second place. There was a second Grand Prix medal three years after her first for America’s Mariah Bell and she was thrilled with her bronze. She told us she celebrated with her family and boyfriend Romain Ponsart at a local McDonalds in a sort of post-competition ritual. We will have an interview with Bell online soon so watch this space.
The pairs event brought the competition to a close and 2019 World Junior champions Anastasia Mishina and Aleksandr Galliamov kept their winning streak this season alive with their first Grand Prix title. Overnight leaders Daria Pavliuchenko and Denis Khodykin were clearly disappointed with their free performance, but with another silver medal to add to their silver from Skate America they have booked themselves a spot at the Grand Prix Final for a second consecutive year. America’s Haven Denney and Brandon Frazier also matched their result at Skate America with a bronze here.
While the rain still pours outside, all that is left for this year’s Internationaux de France is the gala exhibition later on this afternoon. Merci Grenoble and see you next year?