Ice Network

Cappellini, Lanotte charm judges with Chaplin free

Chock, Bates start season off with silver; Gilles, Poirier take bronze
  • Ice Network on Facebook
  • Ice Network on Twitter
The Nebelhorn ice dance medalists (L-R): Silver medalists Madison Chock and Evan Bates, gold medalists Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte, and bronze medalists Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier. -Lorrie Parker

In a close decision, Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte's sparkling free dance to a medley of Charlie Chaplin tunes won the day at the 2016 Nebelhorn Trophy, nudging them past Americans Madison Chock and Evan Bates by a little more than a point.

Italy's 2014 world champions returned to the light, entertaining style that has served them so well in previous seasons, with Lanotte capturing the famous Chaplin mannerisms and Cappellini playing the perfect foil.

For their program, they gained five Level 4's and two Level 3's, on their way to a competition total of 180.50. Their program component scores averaged 9.1, ranging up to 9.5.

The early-season win was particularly impressive considering that, in August, Cappellini suffered a light concussion when she bumped her head against a bar in the fitness room of their practice rink in Milan, Italy. She was off the ice for two weeks and had to limit her training for several weeks thereafter.

"We exceeded our expectations; we did not think we would be so ready," Cappellini said. "The free dance today was even better than the short dance yesterday. We worked a lot on our skating skills and [fitness], but we did not want to be ready too soon. The program will become stronger in the next few months."

The skaters worked with their choreographer, Liudmila Vlasova, to capture the spirit of Chaplin.

"Before building our program, we watched every movie and video by Charles Chaplin," Cappellini said. "It was fun to work on this free dance, and we see it was well received."

Chock and Bates, the reigning world bronze medalists, settled for second place with 179.18 points. They earned the same levels as the Italians, but their component scores were a bit lower, averaging around 9.0.

The U.S. silver medalists changed their style and danced in a very modern way to "Under Pressure" by David Bowie. They received predominantly +2 Grades of Execution (GOEs), with six elements gaining a few +3 GOEs, and their speed was greater than that of the Italians.

"We wanted to look different this season, and I think we accomplished that," Chock said. "Our program has so much energy."

"We are more ready this year than we were last season," Bates said. "We had a break in the spring, which we needed. Our motivation is greater than it has ever been. The first competition after six months is always difficult for us, as it is for all skaters. Next week we will compete again in Bratislava (at the Ondrej Nepela Trophy), and we hope to be better there."

Canadians Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier skated their free dance to a medley of tango music and won the bronze medal with 176.84 points. The students of Carol Lane had the same levels as the top two teams, but their program components were lower, averaging around 8.8.

 "We like to do new things, and this was a new style for us," Gilles said. "We liked how we skated today."

"The Olympics is getting closer; therefore, all of us were better prepared than ever and trying to get ready as early as possible," Poirier said. "We know what we have to work on."  

Elliana Pogrebinsky and Alex Benoit, who train alongside Chock and Bates in Igor Shpilband's group in Novi, Michigan, finished fourth in their first Challenger Series event. They won the Lake Placid International in July.

Lifts and twizzles were the highlights of their exotic free dance to music from Sadko by Nikoli Rimsky-Korsakov and "The Feeling Begins" by Peter Gabriel. They also excelled with their deep edges and long lines.

Yura Min and Alexander Gamelin of South Korea ended up sixth after a dynamic program to music from the Cinema Paradiso soundtrack. Gamelin, a New Yorker who previously competed with twin sister Danielle, hopes to gain South Korean citizenship in time to compete at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics with Min, a dual citizen of South Korea and the United States.