How the free dance went down and determined Olympic ice dance medalists

Posted at 6:08 PM, Feb 13, 2022

The ice dance competition at the 2022 Winter Olympics came to a close not long after the Super Bowl did, with the free dance on Sunday night in the U.S./Monday morning local time.

A world record score was set by Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron in the rhythm dance and then another was set with their total score of 226.98 points that locked in the gold for the French team. The four-time world champions improved on their 2018 Olympic silver medal.

WATCH ON DEMAND: USA  |  |  Peacock  |  NBC (after monobob; broadcast moved from USA to NBC for final group)

Chasing them for that coveted gold medal was the Russian Olympic Committee's Viktoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov, reigning world champions who earned silver at their first Olympics together here. Katsalapov is the 2014 bronze medalist with a different partner.

As two U.S. teams put out their very best for spots on the podium, it was Madison Hubbell/Zachary Donohue who made their way to the bronze medal, while teammates and training mates Madison Chock/Evan Bates took fourth place.

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

Group 1

8:31 p.m. ET: The Ukrainian team of Oleksandra Nazarova and Maksim Nikitin start us off, serving some Lady Gaga looks and music. They finished 20th at the 2021 World Figure Skating Championships and sit in the same position here after the rhythm dance. Score of 97.34 points for the free dance and 162.87 total.

8:38 p.m. ET: Armenia's Tina Garabedian and Simon Proulx Senecal are the first to go of a whopping TEN teams in this field of 20 who train at the Ice Academy of Montreal by Marie-France Dubreuil and Patrice Lauzon, among others. The I.AM camp had an 11th team that was eliminated after the rhythm dance. Garabedian and Proulx Senecal go ahead of the Ukrainian team with a free dance score of 101.16 and 167.03 total.

8:46 p.m. ET: Georgia's Maria Kazakova and Georgiy Reviya compete for the final time at these Games, having also performed the rhythm dance portion of the team event. They wedge between the previous two teams with a free dance score of 97.25 for a 164.33 total.

8:53 p.m. ET: The sister-brother team of Natalie Taschlerova and Filip Taschler of Czech Republic are into the lead with 101.10 points; 167.03 total.

9:01 p.m. ET: Fun fact: Finland's Juulia Turkkila and Matthias Versluis are coached by 2001 world champion and 2002 Olympic bronze medalist Maurizio Margaglio of Italy. Score of 105.65, total of 173.88.

Current top three: Turkkila/Versluis (FIN), Taschlerova/Taschler (CZE), Garabedian/Proulx Senecal (ARM)

SEE MORE: Papadakis and Cizeron lead at Olympics with world record rhythm dance score

Group 2 feat. Hawayek/Baker

9:15 p.m. ET: Poland's eight-time national champions Natalia Kaliszek and Maksym Spodyriev start the second of four groups. Kaliszek fell to the ice on a lift. They move into third with 96.99 points for their free dance and 167.31 total.

9:24 p.m. ET: Representing the Russian Olympic Committee and training in Detroit, Diana Davis and Gleb Smolkin skate to the ever-familiar (at least in the skating world) "Moulin Rouge" soundtrack. Fun fact: Davis is the youngest woman in the ice dance competition at 19 years old. They take the lead with 108.16 points in the free and a 129.82 total.

9:33 p.m. ET: No, no, those bird sounds do not mean it's time to take cover -- simply means Canada's Marjorie Lajoie and Zachary Lagha are on the ice. The "Rio" fans (fun costumes, by the way) are the second I.AM team to take the ice in this event, meaning nine of the final 13 teams train at the same rink and share the same coaches. It's a 108.43 for the energetic program and 181.02 total.

9:41 p.m. ET: This Olympic close comes to an end for Shiyue Wang and Xinyu Liu, who have competed four times total after representing China in both parts of the team event. They take the lead with 111.01 points for their free dance and 184.42 total. This will be the highest finish ever for a Chinese ice dance team at the Olympics.

9:49 p.m. ET: A simple, elegant display of ice dance excellence from Americans Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker, who, like the other two U.S. teams to come, have been together over a decade. Oh and we get a Nathan Chen cameo on the broadcast; he has traveled and competed with Hawayek and Baker since they were all kids. They wrap their Olympic debut with 115.16 points in the free dance and a total of 189.74.

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

Group 3 feat. Gilles/Poirier

10:17 p.m. ET: The Brits bring on the penultimate group. Lilah Fear and Lewis Gibson perform to the soundtrack of "The Lion King" and while their costumes are on point, unfortunately their twizzles were not. Into first, though, with 115.19 for their free dance and 191.64 total. "That's really surprising to me, actually," 2006 Olympic silver medalist Tanith White says on the broadcast. "I would put Hawayek and Baker in first."

10:25 p.m. ET: The very multicultural team of Olivia Smart and Adrian Diaz grace us with their talents now. She was born in England and represented the UK with a previous partner. He is from Spain, for whom they're competing. He is engaged to an American (the aforementioned Madison Hubbell, who is in the last group). And they train in Canada (yes, I.AM). Anyway, score is 121.41 points (199.11 total).

10:33 p.m. ET: Here goes the second of three Canadian teams: Laurence Fournier Beaudry and Nikolaj Sorensen. He has a mistake on his twizzles and they score 113.81 for their free dance and a 192.35 total that puts them in second.

10:41 p.m. ET: Fun fact: Italy's Charlene Guignard and Marco Fabbri are coached by Barbara Fusar-Poli, the 2001 world champion and 2002 Olympic bronze medalist with the previously mentioned Maurizio Margaglio. Free dance score of 124.37 and total of 207.05 points -- into first.

10:49 p.m. ET: Final team from Canada goes and they are also your reigning world bronze medalists: Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier. She has an issue with a lift. They're in second with 121.26 points (207.05 total).

Current top three: Guignard/Fabbri, Gilles/Poirier, Smart/Diaz

Group 4 feat. all the best teams

11:03 p.m. ET: Last group. Here we go. Time to determine the medalists. Two nations have two teams in this group: ROC and USA. First up is ROC's Aleksandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin. They fall into second with a free dance score of 120.98 and 205.07 total.

11:12 p.m. ET: Ah, the classic story of the relationship between an extraterrestrial (Madison Chock) and an astronaut (Evan Bates). Everything is on point in this performance: the hold-Chock-by-the-calf lift, Chock's hair, their emoting -- even the acting behind Chock's hand. Best they've ever skated this program and the scores show it: personal best 130.63 points and 214.77 total. Easily ahead of fifth and giving themselves a great shot at the podium.

11:20 p.m. ET: Giving their entire selves to the performance, Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue compete on Olympic ice for the final time, having promised this is their final season. Applauded by Nathan Chen, plus Chock and Bates, they're awarded an impressive 130.89 points and with 218.02 points total are guaranteed an Olympic medal. Fifth Olympics in a row where the U.S. wins a medal in ice dance.

11:28 p.m. ET: The reigning world champions of the ROC, Viktoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov, rival Hubbell and Donohue here and ultimately outscore them: 131.66 in the free dance for a 220.51 total. At their first Games together, they are guaranteed at least a silver medal. Katsalapov adds this to his bronze from 2014.

11:36 p.m. ET: And the Olympic gold is theirs! Four-time world champions from France, Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron finally have their Olympic gold medal. Free dance score of 136.15 and total of 226.98 more than does it for them.

Olympic ice dance medalists: Papadakis/Cizeron (FRA), Sinitsina/Katsalapov (ROC), Hubbell/Donohue (USA)