As Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron finished their free dance to Mozart’s “Adagio from Concerto No. 23” at a sparsely attended Thursday night session of the 2015 European Figure Skating Championships at the Globe Arena in Stockholm, there were few people inside the venue who weren’t moved by the pure beauty they had just witnessed. European audiences tend to be tough and not as generous with their appreciation as North American or even Japanese crowds of late. The emotions that emanated from the French team on the night touched the hearts of those of us lucky to be there that night and it will remain long in our consciousness.
This time last year Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron ended the European Championships in fifteenth place. What a difference twelve months makes and their rapid ascent to the upper echelons of ice dance continues with no signs of slowing down. Even in the half empty Globe Arena in Stockholm, there was an intangible magic to the mood they created on the ice during their performance to Mozart’s Adagio from Concerto No. 23. It was perfect and total intimacy and you felt that they would have danced exactly the same way if no-one or twenty thousand people had been watching.
After a very tense and exhausting pre-Olympic Europeans last year, there is a notably more calm and rounded atmosphere permeating the air in Stockholm this year. Indeed round is the optimal word as the event takes place in the Globe Arena, the largest spherical building in the world.
There has been no rise more meteoric this season than that of France’s Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron. From 13th place at the World Championships in Japan in March of last year, they made everybody sit up and take notice when they claimed gold at Cup of China in November and defeated World champions Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte in the process. They proved that they are going to be a force to be reckoned over the coming years by subsequently winning the Trophee Eric Bompard and taking bronze in the Grand Prix Final in Barcelona. Romain Haguenauer, the man behind the team, believes that they timed this season to perfection.
“It’s a new Olympic cycle so we knew it was the time to be good. You always have to be good, but if they wanted to aim for a high place at the next Olympics they had to start this season because so many couples stopped competing.”