Papadakis, Cizeron survive slip to lead ISU Grand Prix final

Turin (Italy) (AFP) –


Four-time world ice dancing champions Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France survived a scare to lead after the rhythm dance section in the ISU Grand Prix figure skating final on Friday.

The 2018 Olympic Games silver medallists missed last year's final through injury, with Americans Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue the defending champions.

But despite Papadakis momentarily losing her balance midstep during their fast-moving routine to the soundtrack from the hit movie "Fame", the French recovered to lead the way with 83.83 points.

The score was 6.2 points behind their world record mark of 90.03 in the NHK Trophy in Japan last month.

It was enough to edge Hubbell and Donohue's jive and swing to music by Cole Porter, by just 1.11 points going into Saturday's free dancing final in the Palavela in Turin.

Americans Madison Chock and Evan Bates, skated to Cole Porter's "Too Darn Hot", and are third on 81.67, with less than three points separating the top five in the elite six-team event.

In the pairs, China's two-time world champions Sui Wenjing and Han Cong will bid to seal another gold in the free skating final later on Friday after leading the short programme.

Sui and Han, gold medallists at the 2017 and 2019 world championships, head a trio of young Russian pairs.

Japanese Rika Kihira's opens her defence of her women's crown in the short programme later on Friday, challenged for four Russian teenagers.

Olympic and world champion Alina Zagitova wants to reclaim the title she lost last year to 17-year-old Kihira in Vancouver.

But Alena Kostornaia, Alexandra Trusova and Anna Shcherbakova are also a threat in their first senior season, with two wins each in the Grand Prix series.

US newcomer Bradie Tennell will complete the six-skater field.