20 of the Best Skating Programs from the Fall of 2016

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16. Gabriella Papadakis & Guillaume Cizeron (FRA): Free Dance

The biggest criticism lobbed to Gabriella Papadakis & Guillaume Cizeron is that they tend to do similar free dances all the time. This year, they definitely have done something pretty similar to what they did to win the last two World titles. Same classical style, abstract emotionalism, and selling the program by their breathtaking skating technique. But there’s no denying they do this style well.

Not only that, but sticking to the same style allows the French team to explore all its nuances, and, as they grow older, to find more emotional power than they have in the past. They themselves were the ones who came up with the idea of this program. Cizeron was the one who first heard Aldo Lopez Gavilan’s “Oddudua,” after they had already come up with the theme, which they can wax poetic on. That may be part of the reason watching them skate this program makes the viewers feel grief along with joy, tension along with the release, and altogether the whirling journey of emotions they talk about in the interview.

When coach Marie-France Dubreuil and her team agreed to it and created the program, they included innovative elements and demanding choreography. Two other music pieces, Nest’s “Stillness” and Olafur Arnalds’ “Happiness Does Not Wait,” allows for distinct sections, a further expanding of their abilities.

Now the only question is whether they’ll be able to top this for the Olympic season, if they choose not to change styles. But until then, we fans can sit back and enjoy watching what we’ve been given.