Silver medallists four years ago, the duo set a world record score on their way to the Olympic title in a competitive ice dance field. See how the free dance played out.
The four-time world champion French ice dancers soared to victory at the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 on Monday (14 February), skating to a world record total score of 226.98 to claim a long-awaited Olympic title after registering 136.15 in the free dance.
Papadakis/Cizeron had broken their own world record in the short dance, scoring 90.83 to secure a two-point advantage heading into the free dance.
The podium race was a close one, with Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov of ROC setting a season’s best to win silver with a total score of 220.51. Team USA’s Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue won the bronze with 218.02.
The reigning U.S. champions Madison Chock and Evan Bates rallied from a disappointing rhythm dance, placing fourth with a total score of 214.77, while Italy’s Charlene Guignard and Marco Fabbri finished in fifth with a 207.05.
Papadakis/Cizeron win France’s second ice dance gold and first since Marina Anissina and Gwendal Peizerat were victorious at Salt Lake City 2002.
The team have not competed at a world championships since 2019, and the last time they went head-to-head with Sinitsina/Katsalapov, at the 2020 European Championships, they finished second. But they were sparkling from the outset of the rhythm to the finish of the free, embracing centre ice upon finishing and then letting out a roar of emotion as their free dance score came through.
“I think we don’t believe it yet,” Papadakis said after the win through a fittingly golden mask. “Honestly it feels completely unreal. We have been waiting for this. This is the medal that we wanted. My brain doesn’t understand it.” (Laughs.)
“We worked a lot. We built upon the last Olympics,” she continued. “For years this was the only medal that we wanted and the past four years were just about that moment. We worked a lot and it was very hard. … I feel like I am watching a movie about my life.” (Laughs.)
Added Cizeron: “We just relied on our trust, and we borrowed energy of all of our teammates and coaches. It’s memories, it’s eye contact that I will never forget.”
Katsalapov, meanwhile, becomes the first ice dancer to win Olympic medals with two different partners. At Sochi 2014, he partnered with Elena Ilinykh to capture the bronze.