Skating together for roughly 15 years — far more than half their lives — and having been crowned world champions four times, they finally reached the pinnacle of their sport.
Before these Games, Papadakis and Cizeron had won at least one gold medal for every major competition they’ve entered. Over the past eight seasons, they finished first at 24 international events, second at five and third at one. One of those six-in-30 ‘losses,’ if you will, was a silver medal at the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Games. Four years later, they are golden.
They did it in record fashion as well: Their rhythm dance score of 90.83 points bested their previous world record of 90.03 and their total of 226.98 topped their previous world record of 226.61. Both records had previously stood for 27 months.
They are the first French ice dance team to be crowned Olympic champions in 20 years.
The only team to defeat Papadakis and Cizeron since the 2018 Winter Olympics — the Russian Olympic Committee’s Viktoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov — took the silver medal with 220.51 points. The 2020 European champions and 2021 world champions were competing at their first Winter Games together after teaming up in 2014. He is the 2014 Olympic ice dance bronze medalist and team event gold medalist for Russia with then-partner Elena Ilinykh, while she is also a 2014 Olympian with Ruslan Zhiganshin.
For the fifth Winter Olympics in a row, a U.S. team earned a place on the ice dance podium — unthinkable for a nation that won a medal in the discipline’s 1976 Olympic debut and then went 30 years without.
It was Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue who claimed the bronze with 218.02 points, a fitting finale for the team retiring from competition after next month’s world championships. They were in bronze-medal position following the short dance at their 2018 Olympic debut but fell to fourth overall when Donohue put both hands down on the ice during a slide in their free dance.
They follow in the footsteps of U.S. figure skating greats Tanith White (nee Belbin) and Ben Agosto (2006 silver), Meryl Davis and Charlie White (2010 silver, 2014 gold) and Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani (2018 bronze).
Madison Chock and Evan Bates, she a three-time Olympian and he at his fourth Games (a record for any U.S. figure skater) finished fourth with 214.77 points, a redemptive skate for them as well. Both members of the couple (who are one off the ice as well) fell in their free dance in 2018 and they placed ninth. They were fourth at the 2021 World Championships as well, though had defeated Hubbell and Donohue for the U.S. title last month.