Ice Network

Le Cru du Jour: Tat and Max laugh off music snafu

Haguenauer provides update on Papadakis, Cizeron; Murakamis abound
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Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov have shown their lighter side in the past, and they did so again Thursday, when the wrong music was played during their practice session. -Getty Images

Many Murakamis in Bordeaux!

If you went to the athletes entrance of the rink Thursday night, you would have found a small wooden box on a huge circular coffer that came from Japan, as could be seen from the flight sticker, just near a headlamp projector. The sticker read: "Murakami Research Laboratory." Murakami -- again? Besides Kanako, who will compete in ladies, and Daisuke, who will compete in men's, is there yet another Murakami? "This is just a color test for cameras," a laughing TV crew member explained. "Murakami is a very common name in Japan. This is just a coincidence."

Male lockers

The rink where the event is held calls itself the "Home of the Boxers," the Bordeaux hockey team. The men's lockers are organized with individual seats bearing the name of each of the players. Which one did Max Aaron choose? Nicolas Mariage's? Or Tarantino's? The ladies lockers are, of course, not decorated the same way, as there is no women's hockey team in Bordeaux. Guess what: They smell much better, too!

More news from Papadakis and Cizeron

Romain Haguenauer, who coaches Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron in Montreal, came to Bordeaux with two other teams: Laurence Fournier-Beaudry and Nikolaj Sorensen, who skate for Denmark, and Team USA's Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue. He took the time to explain how the 2015 world gold medalists were doing.

"They really practiced a lot in the last three weeks. They performed each one of their programs three times every day. Gabriella knew that it was the deal: If they wanted to be ready for the Trophy, they needed that much of a commitment.

"In fact, they were just packing their suitcase when we made the decision. They were disappointed, of course. But it's better this way. The Eric Bompard Trophy would have been followed by the NHK (Trophy) and then the (Grand Prix) Final. That would have meant a lot of traveling and tiredness for her. We preferred to avoid that.

"Gabriella and Guillaume have become real locomotives for our skating school, which is quite normal. We felt it when they started practicing again -- we noticed that all the other skaters were working even harder!"

'There's no fast food in altitude!'

The French team has been splittng its time between Paris and a ski resort high in the Alps named Vaujany. Vaujany is quite remote from any big city. "There we have a great rink, the ice is perfect, we have apartments close to it -- it's perfect for sports people!" pairs skater Vanessa James said during a special press conference. "There, we work our cardio, it's a beautiful place in the mountains, and...there is no fast food around!" she said, laughing. Her teammates were quick to add that it was great to be there but "no longer than three weeks at a time, really!"

Chafik Bessghier's humility

Brian Joubert's mother has always been impressed by the way Chafik Besseghier, who leads the French men's team in Bordeaux, was able to catch back the landing of his jumps, just like a cat. She used to call him "le Chat Chafik" ("Chafik the Cat" in French) for that reason. On Thursday night, Besseghier attended the press conference with his teammates. As shy as ever, he only mentioned that his goal was to land three quads during the competition. His coach, Annick Dumont, had to add afterward that her protégé had just won two international competitions, the Lombardia Trophy and the Cup of Nice. Besseghier did not even mention them during the press conference! Repeat after me: "le Chat Chafik is shy"…hopefully, he won't be on the ice!

Tat and Max enter the rink

The week's most anticipated arrival occurred Thursday afternoon, during the pairs practice session. Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov, the 2014 Olympic gold medalists, will make their Grand Prix debut in Bordeaux. At first glance, you could see that the team has even increased and deepened the power it puts into each of its movements, its amplitude, its speed. The partners could be famous actors of high-budget movies.

At 4:50 p.m. sharp, they took their place on the ice to start their program and took position, about six feet away from each other. The sound that came out of the loudspeakers was shaking and trembling. Trankov started shaking and trembling accordingly, with his arms and upper body, and laughing. Two more times the music played, but it was not theirs. As Katarina Witt used to say, the most difficult part in her Hollywood career was to wait so many hours between the scenes. Tatiana and Maxim had to endure a bit of Hollywood that day.

Preparing for the short

The ladies arrived at the rink around 9 a.m. Friday morning for their last practice before the short program. The weather has been quite cold outside, so each one selected a spot for her warmup. Elizaveta Tuktamisheva and Kanako Murakami shared the first floor lobby. Tuktamisheva needed space to jump from one foot to the next, bending knees or stretching her head up, running all the while. Her coaches were playing her music. Murakami was exercising her knees with a rubber tape around her legs, while stretching her back. On the top floor, Julia Lipnitskaia was stretching close to the board above the rink, taking good advantage of the music played below. Gabrielle Daleman was on the other side of the same floor. After running and warming up, she came to the rug of the kiss and cry to lean down and do push-ups: "I can't do this on the floor...it's too gross!" She laughed. She was quite right, actually. Six hours before the actual competition was not the best time to roll in the dirt!