After These Skaters Locked Eyes In The Rink, Their Passionate Routine Brought Down The House

Ice skating is one of the most intricate and challenging fields in winter sports. Guillaume Cizeron and Gabriella Papadakis can certainly attest to that, as they took to the rink during the World Championships in 2016. However, once their routine began, the fans in the arena were left in awe.

Born in November of 1994, Cizeron already had ties to ice skating via his dad, Marc Cizeron. Indeed the latter was the head of a club located in Clermont-Ferrand, France. With that in mind, the future sportsman took to the ice at an early age, which eventually led to a life-changing moment for him.

While skating in Clermont-Ferrand, Cizeron met fellow skater Papadakis. Born in May of 1995, she was also a local in the French city, with Catherine Papadakis, her mom, plying her trade as a coach. On that note, the two youngsters were brought together by the latter during this period, becoming partners on the ice.

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Competing as ice dancers, Cizeron and Papadakis made their first appearance in the Junior Grand Prix (J.G.P.) during the 2009-2010 season. The J.G.P. competition began back in 1997, with the International Skating Union, better known as the I.S.U., overseeing it all. The pair then enjoyed a respectable debut year.

While competing at the J.G.P. event in America, Cizeron and Papadakis finished inside the top 20. Off the back of that, the French duo then traveled to the Netherlands for the World Junior Championships in March 2010. However, on that occasion they ended up in 22nd place, failing to qualify for the free dance as a result.

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By the end of that season, Papadakis and Cizeron were 129th in the world rankings. The following year, though, things started to improve for the skaters. Indeed, during the 2010-2011 campaign they took fourth place at the J.G.P. competition in France, before earning a spot on the podium at the Austrian event.

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Cizeron and Papadakis were awarded bronze medals at that particular event, ahead of the next World Junior Championships. In 2011 the competition was held in South Korea, with the pair looking to better their previous effort. Thankfully for them, they made a noticeable improvement, finishing 12th with 115.56 points.

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As a result of placing 12th in South Korea, Cizeron and Papadakis rose up the world rankings to 65th at the end of the campaign. However, their remarkable improvement in the rink didn’t end there. After another excellent season in the J.G.P., the ice dancers finished fifth at the World Junior Championships in 2012.

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Off the back of that success, Cizeron and Papadakis then made a big decision regarding their coaching set-up in the summer of 2012. With a trio of new trainers by their side, the duo chose to relocate to Lyon, France, to continue their work. It was a move that paid off almost immediately.

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Cizeron and Papadakis picked up their very first gold medal at the following J.G.P. event in France, before bagging another first place finish in Austria. Due to those excellent performances, the French pair made it through to the J.G.P. Final that season. They ended the competition in second place, which earned them two more medals.

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The medal haul didn’t end there, though, as Cizeron and Papadakis won silver at the World Junior Championships in 2013. By the end of that incredible season, the ice dancers were now 23rd in the world rankings. On that note, they made another important decision ahead of the new campaign.

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Indeed, following all that success at junior level, Cizeron and Papadakis opted to skate with the seniors in 2013-2014. It was a decision that paid off fairly quickly, as they bagged top spot while competing in the International Cup of Nice. That was their first senior appearance together, adding more medals to their growing collection.

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Cizeron and Papadakis continued to establish themselves at senior level throughout the season, with the pair taking part in two Grand Prix events. After respectable performances in those competitions, the pair were then selected to skate at the European Championships in January 2014. The duo eventually finished inside the top 20 there.

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The medal-winning skaters then followed the European event with a 13th-placed finish at the World Championships some two months later. Thanks to their displays with the seniors, they cracked the top 20 in the world rankings at the end of that campaign. From there, Cizeron and Papadakis then made their next big decision together.

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After spending just over two years in Lyon, Cizeron and Papadakis packed their bags for Montreal, Canada, with their training team. Off the back of that move, the pair enjoyed their best season yet, picking up even more medals at the back-end of 2014. However, their greatest achievements came in early 2015.

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While competing at the European Championships that year, Cizeron and Papadakis finished first. Incredibly, they followed that up with another gold medal at the World Championships in March 2015, becoming the first French winners in around seven years. Unsurprisingly, they again shot up the world rankings to fifth.

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At that point, though, Cizeron and Papadakis suffered their first real blow as a team in the summer of 2015. During one of their training sessions, the latter picked up a concussion. As a result of that, they didn’t compete on the ice until the end of the year, with the French skater noting the severity of the problem.

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“It was hard,” Papadakis admitted to French newspaper Le Monde in March 2016. “Above all, we did not know how long it would last. When you break a leg or an arm, the diagnosis is clear, there are three weeks, or three months, but we know. I saw the doctors who told me to come back in a week if it was not better.”

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“I was [going] back [to the doctor, but] it was still not going well,” Papadakis continued. “They told me to rest. It lasted a long time. It was very difficult. I could not go out or skate. I could not read or have a conversation with people. [I could] not focus. And I still have sequelae, and it will last for years.”

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However, despite the setback, Cizeron and Papadakis bounced back immediately, winning the French Figure Skating Championships in December 2015. Just a few weeks later, the ice dancers then bagged their second gold medal at the European Championships. From there, they started their preparation for the upcoming World Championships, held in Boston, Massachusetts.

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The event took place at the Boston Garden stadium at the back-end of March 2016. To kick things off, Cizeron and Papadakis competed in the short dance, with the latter wearing a flowing red dress. Together, they took to the ice in front of a captive audience, hoping to retain their title from the previous year.

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At that point, Cizeron, who was dressed in all-black, and Papadakis pulled off their routine perfectly. Their perfectly-timed movements on the ice wowed the crowd. And, after showcasing their tremendous skills around the rink, the pair then put together an eye-catching move toward the end of the dance.

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Indeed, Papadakis glided into Cizeron’s arms, leading him to lift her up over his shoulders. The duo proceeded to twirl around at great speed on the ice, with the Clermont-Ferrand native eventually sliding down into her partner’s arms again. Despite the change of position, though, the spinning continued, which drew a big response from the crowd.

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From there, Cizeron lowered Papadakis back onto the ice in one perfect movement, as the routine shortly came to an end. When the dance finished, the French duo shared a warm hug in the middle of the rink. Meanwhile, the fans in attendance gave them a long round of applause, clearly appreciative of their efforts.

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That display, alongside the free dance, ensured that Cizeron and Papadakis won the gold medal for the second year running. Despite the hardships they faced earlier that season, the dancers recorded their best-ever points total at the event as well. The pair took first place with a tally of 194.46 points.

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Some 12 months on from that triumph, however, Cizeron and Papadakis’ World Championship routine came to the forefront once again. YouTube user A & A uploaded the dance via their channel, but with one key difference. They replaced the original music with Ed Sheeran’s hit song “Perfect” from the album ÷.

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The video quickly went viral as Sheeran’s song perfectly matched the tempo of Cizeron and Papadakis’ memorable routine. Since being uploaded, that version of the dance has earned nearly seven million views and more than 100,000 likes on YouTube. In addition to that, it’s also generated over 2,000 comments from online users.

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“These are the most in tune, perfect skaters I have seen in years,” wrote one YouTube user in the comments section of the video. “They make me cry when I watch this performance. I can’t stop watching. This is the way [that] couples should be in life throughout. I love this video, LOVE their connection.”

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Those feelings were reiterated by another user, who also spoke about the choice of song. “This video lifts my mood every time I see it,” they wrote. “And I have watched it numerous times! [Cizeron and Papadakis] are so beautiful to watch, their synchronization, their emotion, the perfection of their steps ? it is a joy.”

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“Whoever has fitted the routine to the music gets a heartfelt thanks from me, it is superb!” the user added. Meanwhile, someone else focused their attention on the choreography of the routine, hailing the work of both Cizeron and Papadakis. In addition to that, they also spoke about the overall magic of ice skating.

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“I understand this choreography came from Cizeron and Papadakis and I am even more awed,” wrote the user. “I love dancing, all my life I have been a dancer. [A] skater not so much. But I always felt that skating gives the feeling of flying. They are amazing,” the user concluded.

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Elsewhere, another YouTube user summed up their thoughts rather succinctly. “[Cizeron and Papadakis’] musical connection is exquisite,” they wrote in the comments section. “They both just flowed through each move effortlessly, absolutely an emotional roller coaster. Perfectly interpreted and timeless, I could watch forever. A-maze-ing ? I’ve just fallen in love.”

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After Cizeron and Papadakis’ excellent finish to the 2015-2016 season, they rose to fourth in the world rankings. The French pair continued to enjoy plenty of success in the following campaign, picking up a few more medals. And when it came to the European Championships in 2017, they won gold again. The pair, though, finished second in the World Championships soon after.

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However, the 2017-2018 season was an important one for the pair, with the Winter Olympics set for February 2018. After taking home another gold medal in the European Championships that season, Cizeron and Papadakis then prepared themselves for the games in South Korea. Ahead of their appearance, though, they sat down for an interview with the I.S.U.

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During the interview, the pair were asked about the “secret” behind their fantastic achievements in ice dancing at such a young age. “I don’t think that there is a particular secret to it,” Papadakis replied on the I.S.U.’s official website. “I think it is a mixture of everything.”

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“Things like… We get along very well,” Papadakis continued. “And we have been skating together since we were young and we started skating in the same place. So, we really learned the same way how to skate. Now we are in Canada with a super team, and I think this work and the motivation we get there led to our success.”

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Cizeron couldn’t help but echo the sentiments of his partner. “I think we have one of the best teams in the world, including our coaches, our mental trainer, our artistic coach,” he said. “We are surrounded by very good people, and also our federation has supported us since we were young.”

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“We never had difficulties paying for training, or for certain projects for the future,” Cizeron added. “The fact that we got a lot of support from so many people and that people believed in us has taken us far.” With that in mind, he and Papadakis celebrated a significant success in South Korea.

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Indeed, off the back of some excellent performances in the build up to the Winter Olympics, Cizeron and Papadakis won silver. Around a month later, the ice dancers followed that up with another gold at the World Championships in Italy, their third victory in four years. As a result, they ended the season second in the world rankings.

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As for the 2018-2019 campaign, Cizeron and Papadakis have continued to dominate the medals table. Following some notable wins at the back-end of 2018, the French duo secured their fifth gold medal at the European Championships in January 2019. After that, they won the World title yet again, remaining the team to beat on the ice.

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