Papadakis, Cizeron ready for new challenges

Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron

By Alexandra Ilina

A French ice dance team of Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron is already known as interesting, original and passionate duo.

After retirement of country’s ice dance leaders Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat, this team has all chances to take new highs at both national and international levels.

Gabriella and Guillaume teamed up when they were about ten years old in Clermont-Ferrand at the suggestion of Gabriella’s mother, Catherine Papadakis, who coached them from the beginning of their partnership.

In 2012/2013 they made a very successful season at the junior level. In the summer 2012 Gabriella and Guillaume made a decision to move to Lyon to train with new coaches Muriel Zazoui, Romain Haguenauer and Olivier Schoenfelder.The couple competed in their fourth season of the Junior Grand Prix, winning their first title at JGP France and then taking another gold medal at JGP Austria.

Their wins qualified them for the 2012–13 JGP Final in Sochi, Russia, where this French team won the silver medal. At the 2013 World Junior Championships in Milan, they placed second in the short dance. On the day of the free dance, Papadakis sprained her ankle in an off-ice warm up before the morning practice. During the competition, she paused after 2:52 minutes and was allowed a medical break, after which she and Cizeron completed the dance. They placed third in the free dance and took the silver medal overall.

Before the beginning of this past season Papadakis/Cizeron decided to move up to the senior level. They made their senior international debut at the International Cup of Nice, winning gold. The duo then competed at two senior Grand Prix assignments, placing fifth at the 2013 Trophée Eric Bompard and seventh at the 2013 Rostelecom Cup. Initially named as alternates for the 2014 European Championships in Budapest, Hungary, they were called up when Nathalie Péchalat/Fabian Bourzat withdrew and finished at 15th place. At the 2014 World championships in Saitama, Japan the French duo took 13th place.

World Figure Skating online magazine spoke with Gabriella and Guillaume about their first season in seniors, about combining life and trainings, and about plans for the next competitive year.

Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron performing at Grand Prix event

Tell us a few about your team?

Guillaume Cizeron: In these ten years that we are skating together we know each other perfectly, we know our qualities, difficulties and we know how we work. So it is easy to work like this, when you know the people you are working with. We skated at the same arena since we were very young.

Gabriela, how could you describe your partner?

Gabriella Papadakis: He has a lot of qualities as a skater. We are also good friends besides our ice performances.

This past season was your first at a senior level. Was it difficult for you?

Papadakis: It was our choice; we wanted to skate in senior competitions this year. Yes, I can say it was difficult but at the same time it was a big experience for us. We are satisfied with this year.

Cizeron: No it was not so difficult, it was other. But we have to improve what we always improve every year. We wanted to make better programs to perform in competitions. We had no big goals for this season, it was just the first year and it was experience to go as far as we can.

What are you plans for the next year?

Cizeron: We will work more; we learned a lot this year about seniors, about big competitions. We have seen other couples and learned to work with them. We are going to work with different people to make our new programs.

Papadakis: In the next season we would like to continue what we already started, we would like to be better.

Cizeron: We already have lots of projects. Next year the short dance is the Spanish flamenco. That is why we want to work in Spain, in Madrid. We will work with flamenco dancers, I mean on the ice and off the ice. It would be funny and we are going to learn this dance.

Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron at training

Any ideas for the free dance?

Papadakis: We don’t know yet. We will continue to do something original.

Cizeron: Now we are listening lots of music, classical music…we will see.

Are you also studying together in Lyon?

Both: No!

Papadakis: I study French literature at the university. I love it. I have not special favorite books because I like lots of them.

Cizeron: I study art. I will be a designer, maybe for clothes. I will make a choice later.

A designer? So can you imagine that you are creating costumes for your programs?

Cizeron: Yes, why not? I always give ideas because I like to draw. We always choose our costumes together, give an opinion on each other’s outfit and make the decision with our coaches.

Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron with teammates

What about your free time?

Papadakis: We try to have a free time! On holidays we like to travel.

Cizeron: Mostly we are sleeping in the free time!-)

What can you say about this year’s tour “Stars sur Glace”?

Cizeron: We don’t make this tour in every city. We are tired but our team is more tired than we are because they did it every day. All those shows! It is the first time we do it. It’s a great experience to perform every night.

Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat are retired. What do you think about the future of French ice dancing?

Cizeron: I think they did really a great career. We try to do the same and we try to be better, if it’s possible.

Photo: Alexandra Ilina

WFS - An independent online sports magazine