French ice dancers Papadakis and Cizeron win 'unreal' first Olympic gold

6. French ice dancers Papadakis and Cizeron win 'unreal' first Olympic gold
France's Gabriella Papadakis and France's Guillaume Cizeron compete in the ice dance free dance of the figure skating event during the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games at the Capital Indoor Stadium in Beijing on February 14, 2022. (Photo: AFP)
BEIJING — French figure skaters Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron said it felt "completely unreal" as they won their first Olympic gold in ice dancing Monday, breaking their own world record again in the process. اضافة اعلان

The duo, who scored 226.98 in total in Beijing to beat their previous high score of 226.61, are five-time European and four-time world champions. 

But it is their first Olympic title after coming second at the Pyeongchang Olympics in 2018, when an unfortunate problem with Papadakis' costume disrupted their performance.

This time, sleek in shimmering red and gold, there were no such issues as they spun across the ice to "Elegie" by Gabriel Faure. 

"I think we don't believe it yet," 26-year-old Papadakis said. "Honestly it feels completely unreal.

"For years this was the only medal that we wanted and the past four years were just about that moment."

Russia's Nikita Katsalapov and Victoria Sinitsina, the reigning European and world champions after the French skipped those competitions because of COVID-19, had to settle for silver. 

Americans Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue took bronze in what they have said will be their last Olympics.

'Time stops'

Papadakis and Cizeron went into the free dance after another record-breaking performance in the rhythm dance on Saturday. 

They came close to breaking yet another of their own world bests with their free dance score of 136.15.

Cizeron said that dancing on Monday was "like time stops".

"We just relied on our trust and we borrowed energy from all of our teammates and coaches," he said.

The 27-year-old is the first openly gay man to win gold in an individual Olympic figure skating event — Canada's Eric Radford won a gold in 2018, but in the team event. 

Cizeron said "Elegie" was "a melting pot of all the extreme emotions we can feel as humans and what we have been through ourselves, through our lives and through our careers".

Dressed in billowing black and white, Sinitsina and Katsalapov rippled through their passionate interpretation of Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2, earning 131.66 for an overall score of 220.51.

"I was so aware of every single motion that the entire program was both very swift and very emotional for me, I wanted to shout out at the end," Sinitsina said. 

"We put all our energy on the ice and now we're empty, but we're happy," said Katsalapov. 

Aliens and Zorro

Hubbell and Donohue kissed the ice at the end of their dance, set to "Drowning" by Anne Sila. 

"It was just a moment I think for both of us to say goodbye to Olympic ice and thank this journey that's created the people that we are today," said Hubbell, who at one point span her whole body several times around Donohue's just by holding onto his neck. 

They beat their compatriots Evan Bates and Madison Chock by just 0.26 in the free program, though were further ahead on combined scores.  

"We really wanted to be on the podium," said Bates. "I think the fourth place sometimes can be one of the hardest places to finish." 

His and Chock's dance was one of the more unusual, the story of an alien and astronaut falling in love to a Daft Punk soundtrack. 

Spain's Adrian Diaz and Olivia Smart, who finished eighth in a new personal best, mimed a swordfight and whipcracks in unison during the course of a simmering "Mask of Zorro" performance. 

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