Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier, of Canada, perform their ice dance rhythm dance program during the Skate Canada International figure skating competition, in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, Oct. 27, 2023.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Gilles & Poirier, Stellato-Dudek & Deschamps skate to bronze at Grand Prix Final

The Canadian duo of Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier concluded their 2023 Grand Prix season with a bronze in ice dancing at the ISU Grand Prix Final in Beijing.

In third position after Friday’s rhythm dance event, Gilles and Poirier delivered a remarkable performance in the free dance to secure their place on the podium. The Team Canada duo earned 128.41 points in this second event to once again place third place.

In total, the Canadian pair accumulated 213.58 points to get their hands on the bronze medal. Italians Charlene Guignard and Marco Fabbri (215.51) won silver medal while the American duo of Madison Chock and Evan Bates took top honours with a total of 221.61 points.

After Friday, the standings were packed with only 0.65 points separating Gilles and Poirier from the Italian duo, and four points separating them from the Americans. The three pairs finished in the exact same positions as they did at the 2023 World Championships.

Also competing in the ice dance, Laurence Fournier Beaudry and Nikolaj Soerensen (195.57) finished in fifth place, while Marjorie Lajoie and Zachary Lagha finished in (193.63) sixth place.

Stellato-Dudek and Deschamps claim bronze in pairs

Reigning Canadian pairs champions Deanna Stellato-Dudek and Maxime Deschamps have won the bronze medal at the ISU Grand Prix Final in Beijing.

In a very tight competition, the duo finished with a total score of 204.30 points. That left them just 2.13 points back of the gold medallists, Minerva Fabienne Hase and Nikita Volodin of Germany, who earned 206.43 from the judges. Sara Conti and Niccolo Macii of Italy took the silver with 205.88 points.

Stellato-Dudek and Deschamps had been in second place to the Germans after the short program. Their free skate on Friday to the soundtrack of Interview with the Vampire had a few small errors and that was enough to drop them down a step on the podium, though they still take home their first Grand Prix Final medal.

Most notably, Stellato-Dudek singled a planned double axel at the end of a jump sequence and both skaters put a hand on the ice to steady the landing of their side-by-side triple salchows. They also only got a level 3 for their final lift, which lowered their technical base value. The Canadians scored 66.71 for their technical elements, compared to the 70.08 for the Germans and the 69.77 for the Italians.

The total score for Stellato-Dudek and Deschamps was about 10 points off their personal best they earned in October at Skate Canada International. They had been the highest-ranked team heading into the Grand Prix Final, which featured the top six pairs from the Grand Prix series this fall.

“We were the top team by, like, 10 points so we know this is way below expectations. But we are still scoring really competitively with mistakes on all the big elements almost. So if we can just clean it up, we’re going to get higher than what we even got at Skate Canada,” Stellato-Dudek said.

“After coming back from Cup of China, we have been working on a lot of stuff. We have been able to perform it today. We are so proud overall of the week. We want to do better this week and we have accomplished a lot of those things. It’s a long process to the World Championships,” Deschamps added. Those world championships will be on home ice for the Canadians in Montreal in mid March.

Also representing Canada in the pairs event was Lia Pereira and Trennt Michaud, who had qualified for the Grand Prix Final after winning silver and gold in their first two Grand Prix events together. They ended up in sixth place with 185.16 points.

Friday also saw the ice dance competition get underway with the rhythm dance. Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier are currently in third place with 85.17 points. They are about four points back of the leaders, reigning world champions Madison Chock and Evan Bates of the United States. Italians Charlene Guignard and Marco Fabbri are in second place, just 0.65 ahead of Gilles and Poirier. Those three teams finished in those same positions at the 2023 World Championships.

Canada boasts half of the ice dance qualifiers for the Grand Prix Final. Laurence Fournier Beaudry and Nikolaj Soerensen are in fifth place with 74.82 points, while Marjorie Lajoie and Zachary Lagha are only 0.08 back with 74.74 points, setting up an interesting showdown ahead of the Canadian championships in January. The free dance will take place very early Saturday morning.