French figure skaters develop new 'artistic dimension' under former Cirque du Soleil choreographer
'I don't think we skate the same way now as we did before,' duo says of work with Catherine Pinard
There could be a Montreal connection on the podium in February at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics
France's Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron stole the show at this month's Grand Prix figure skating event in Japan, setting the record for highest score.
The duo moved to Montreal nearly four years ago to train at the renowned skating school of Marie-France Dubreuil and Patrice Lauzon.
Last year, they got another boost when they began working with former Cirque du Soleil choreographer Catherine Pinard.
The duo say it has made all the difference in their skating styles.
"I don't think we skate the same way now as we did before," Papadakis said. "[Catherine] has really brought a personal and artistic dimension."
Pinard introduced the pair to a completely new approach.
"I work with the beings that are in front of me, I ask them what they want," Pinard said. "We do a lot of improvisation."
She added that she teaches skaters to connect with the music, and try not to give a meaning to something, but instead to let the meaning emerge.
Choreographer brought 'something more'
Papadakis and Cizeron thank Pinard for changing their outlook on skating.
"Everyone sees that Catherine has brought us something more than the other couples that don't do this work, and we're proud of that," Papadakis said. "This is how we want to skate and it's our strength."
With little more than a month to go before the Winter Olympics in South Korea, there is a real battle shaping up in the sport.
Canadian pair Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir — who train here in Montreal — have dominated the sport for years.
Whether it's Papadakis and Cizeron or Virtue and Moir, it's possible we see someone who trains in Montreal win big in Pyeongchang next year.
- An earlier version of this story said Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron moved to Montreal one year ago. In fact, they moved to Montreal nearly four years ago.Dec 28, 2017 3:02 PM ET
With files from Jay Turnbull and Joanne Bayly