Papadakis, Cizeron open bid for fifth world title with record score
Newly-crowned Olympic champions Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron got their bid for a fifth world ice dancing title off to a perfect start on home ice Friday, achieving a world record score in the rhythm dance section.
The French dancers were greeted with a standing ovation as they took to the ice in Montpellier, weeks after achieving their first Olympic gold in Beijing.
Papadakis and Cizeron, whose future remains uncertain after this Olympic season, bettered their previous world record, set in Beijing, by more than two points with 92.73 points.
"We really had a lot of fun out there," said Cizeron after their skate to hip hop and blues rhythms.
"The fact that our friends, our parents, our fans are there to support us, it really warms our hearts. That's one of the reasons why we wanted to come. Especially after Games almost behind closed doors, it feels really good."
Going into Saturday's free dance final, the French led two US dance pairings Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue (89.72), and Madison Chock and Evan Bates (87.51). The three couples train together in Montreal.
At stake for Papadakis and Cizeron, also five-time European champions, is a fifth world crown which would put them ahead of French legends Andree and Pierre Brunet, four-time world and two-time Olympic champions between 1926 and 1932.
It would also edge them closer to the record of six world titles achieved by Lyudmila Pakhomova and Alexandr Gorshkov competing for the Soviet Union between 1970 and 1976.
"It's fabulous ... after winning gold at the Olympics to compete in the world championships at home," their coach Romain Haguenauer told AFP.
"It's a perfect scenario of a perfect finish, if it is the end," he added.
The competition continues on Friday with the women's free programme, with Japanese Kaori Sakamoto the main contender for gold, in a competition reshaped by the exclusion of Russia following the invasion of Ukraine.
A.M. de Leon--LGdM