French pair fly into Ice Dance lead as Olympics loom

·1-min read
Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron lead the way in the Ice Dancing (AFP/Marco BERTORELLO)

Dashing French couple Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron came close to their world record marks when setting a sizzling lead in the Ice Dancing rhythm session at the Figure Skating Grand Prix at Grenoble on Friday.

The four-time world champions hit a high of 89.09pts, with Canadians Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier second way down at 81.35 and the Russian couple Alexandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin on 79.89.

"We're getting better and better in terms of the competition," said Papadakis, who is targeting glory at the Winter Olympic Games in China.

World champion Anna Shcherbakova led a Russian sweep of the top three in the figure skating short programme with 77.94 ahead of Alena Kostarnaia on 76.44 and Kseniia Sinitsyna on 69.89.

Winner in Turin event earlier in November Japan's Yuma Kagiyama pulverised the opposition in the men's short programme with a score of 100.64, Latvia's Deniss Vasiljevs way back in 89.76 in second with American Jason Brown third on 89.39.

The couples figure skating was much closer after the technical programme with headline entries Aleksandra Boikova and Dmitrii Kozlovskii just ahead of another Russian pair Iuliia Artemeva and Mikhail Nazarychev.

All these competitions will be decided on Saturday with the concluding crowd pleasing Free Programmes.

This will be wrapped up with the more festive and equally popular Gala series on Sunday.

The Internationaux de France follows series events in Las Vegas in the United States, Vancouver in Canada, Turin in Italy and in the Japanese capital Tokyo.

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