How it went down: Olympic ice dance begins with hip-hop/blues programs

Posted at 3:40 AM, Feb 12, 2022

The Olympic ice dance competition got underway with the rhythm dance on Saturday, Feb. 12, where teams performed their first of two programs that determine the medalists.

The rhythm dance used to be known as the short dance. Each season, ice dance couples are assigned rhythms their programs must include, and this season we will see teams incorporate at least two rhythms from the following: street dance rhythms, jazz, reggae and blues. Street dance rhythms are defined by the International Skating Union as hip-hop, disco, swing, krunk, popping and funk.

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As anticipated, the four-time world champion team of <strong>Gabriella Papadakis</strong> and <strong>Guillaume Cizeron</strong> from France led the 23-team field with 90.83 points, the highest score ever received in the current system. Reigning world champions <strong>Viktoria Sinitsina</strong> and <strong>Nikita Katsalapov</strong> of the Russian Olympic Committee are almost two points back with 88.85, while two U.S. teams follow: <strong>Madison Hubbell</strong>/<strong>Zachary Donohue</strong> in third (87.13) and <strong>Madison Chock</strong>/Evan Bates fourth (84.14).

Editor's note: Re-live the event as it unfolded in real time with our live blog updates below.

Group 1

6:13 a.m. ET: Germany's Katharina Mueller and Tim Dieck start us off with their Joker/Harley Quinn-inspired program. Cleaner performance than their team event rhythm dance that saw them place 10th of 10 in that segment. And we're on the board with a score of 65.47 points.

6:21 a.m. ET: Juulia Turkkila and Matthias Versluis make their Olympic debuts to "Breathe You In My Dreams" and the popular "River," earning 68.23 points.

6:27 a.m. ET: Throwing it back to "Hit the Road Jack" with Ukraine's Oleksandra Nazarova and Maksim Nikitin. They move into the middle of the pack with 65.53 points.

6:34 a.m. ET: We've hit a brother-sister duo here with Natalie Taschlerova and Filip Taschler skating to Madonna. They, too, do better here than in the team event, taking 67.22 points and are second for now. For the first time, we've determined one of the 20 teams that will advance to the free dance is Turkkila and Versluis.

Current top three: Turkkila/Versluis, Taschlerova/Taschler, Nazarova/Nikitin

SEE MORE: Mueller/Dieck's rhythm dance as the Joker and Harley Quinn

Group 2

7:03 a.m. ET: Following an ice resurface, we've returned with Lithuania's Paulina Ramanauskaite and Deividas Kizala and Rihanna's "Russian Roulette" and "Hard." They take a 58.35.

7:11 a.m. ET: Move over Taschlerova/Taschler, we're up to a married couple now: Japan's Misato Komatsubara and Montana's own Tim Koleto, representing the former. They were seventh of 10 teams in the team event rhythm dance and score roughly a point lower here with 65.41 points.

7:17 a.m. ET: For the first time in nearly an hour, we have a new leader! Poland's Natalia Kaliszek and Maksym Spodyriev are now first with 70.32 points, 2.09 ahead of Turkkila and Versluis.

7:24 a.m. ET: Who doesn't love Usher's "Yeah!"? A personal fave right here -- for that reason -- and Georgia's Maria Kazakova and Georgy Reviya are into fourth with it; 67.08 points, significantly better than their team event score for it.

Current top three: Kaliszek/Spodyriev, Turkkila/Versluis, Taschlerova/Taschler

Group 3 feat. Hawayek/Baker (USA)

7:35 a.m. ET: The first of three Russian Olympic Committee ice dance teams, Diana Davis and Gleb Smolkin, kicks off the third of five groups, skating to the jams that are "Boom Boom Pow" and "Bom Bidi Bom." They take the lead with 71.66 points. Fun fact: Davis' mom, Eteri Tutberidze, is the coach of all three ROC women's competitors at these Games.

7:43 a.m. ET: Armenia is in the Olympic ice dance field for the first time since 2006 with Tina Garabedian and Simon Proulx Senecal who score 65.87 points to "Respect" and "Bridge Over Troubled Water."

7:49 a.m. ET: China's Wang Shiyue and Liu Xinyu are into first with a fun, rocking Elvis Presley medley to "Trouble" and "Blue Suede Shoes" that earns 73.41 points; we saw them in the team event as well.

7:56 a.m. ET: Canadians Marjorie Lajoie and Zachary Lagha, the first of three Canadian teams in the field, take us to "Funkytown" with their energetic rhythm dance and get 72.59 points for it.

8:04 a.m. ET: We wrap this group with the first of three U.S. teams, and the only American team making its Olympic debut, Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker. The four-time U.S. Championships bronze medalists enthrall the crowd to Donna Summer’s “Love to Love You Baby” and “Bad Girls,” earning 74.58 points and jumping to first. Shout-out to the cameo from snowboarding legend Shaun White in the audience. "That was so much fun!" Hawayek exclaims as they exit the ice.

Current top three: Hawayek/Baker, Wang/Liu, Lajoie/Lagha

SEE MORE: U.S. Championships: Hawayek/Baker give it all, earn bronze

Group 4 feat. Papadakis/Cizeron

8:31 a.m. ET: Spain's Olivia Smart and Adrian Diaz start the group, performing to Tina Turner's "Proud Mary." Fun fact: Diaz has been engaged to Team USA's Madison Hubbell for the past four years; we'll see her and partner Zachary Donohue in the next group. Smart/Diaz score 77.70 and are into first.

8:38 a.m. ET: Laurence Fournier Beaudry and Nikolaj Sorensen, who represented Denmark (his home country) for five seasons but are in their fourth for Canada (he received his Canadian citizenship last year), skate a George Michael medley to classic hits like "Careless Whisper" and "Freedom" and garner 78.54 points for the lead.

8:45 a.m. ET: "Everybodyyy" is rocking out to ROC's Aleksandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin now as they perform to the Backstreet Boys song and "Monster" by Shawn Mendes and Justin Bieber. As we move higher and higher into the world rankings, it's not unusual that we continue to see the teams top one another just as Stepanova/Bukin do here with 84.09 points.

8:52 a.m. ET: A KISS medley does the trick for Team GB's Lilah Fear and Lewis Gibson as they slide into fourth with 76.45 points. (I will take responsibility for jinxing them with that last update...)

8:59 a.m. ET: There is a reason France's Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron are four-time world champions and they just showed that. Floating somewhere over the ice to a John Legend medley, Papadakis and Cizeron are easily into first with 90.83 points -- the highest score ever earned in the rhythm dance (beating their own previous mark).

Current top three: Papadakis/Cizeron, Stepanova/Bukin, Fournier Beaudry/Sorensen

Group 5 feat. Sinitsina/Katsalapov, Chock/Bates, Hubbell/Donohue

9:12 a.m. ET: The 2021 world champions, Viktoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov of the ROC, kick us off in the final rhythm dance group. Going from "You Can Leave Your Hat On" to "Brick House," they score 88.85 points and fall into second. Almost four points higher than their score from the team event.

9:18 a.m. ET: Madison Chock and Evan Bates, she in her third Olympics and he in his fourth, perform to a Billie Eilish medley and Chock reminds the world she has some of the best costumes and facial expressions in the field. Chock loses the edge in the first half of their program. They score 84.14 and are third for now.

9:25 a.m. ET: Canada's third and final team, Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier, who took bronze at the 2021 World Championships, skate to Elton John's "I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues" and "I'm Still Standing" and are fifth with a 83.52.

9:33 a.m. ET: With a wide array of Michael Jackson songs, Italy's Charlene Guignard and Marco Fabbri score 82.68 points for sixth place.

9:40 a.m. ET: The final of 23 teams, Americans Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue, cap the rhythm dance with a Janet Jackson medley that won this segment of the team event and is even better this time. They're into third with 87.13 points.

Top three after rhythm dance: Papadakis/Cizeron (FRA), Sinitsina/Katsalapov (ROC), Hubbell/Donohue (USA)

The teams not advancing to the free dance: Mueller/Dieck (GER), Komatsubara/Koleto (JPN), Ramanauskaite/Kizala (LTU)