Figure Skating

Papadakis and Cizeron withdraw from World Championships, look to 2022 Olympics

Reigning world champions will not seek to defend their title in Stockholm, instead turning their attention to the 2021/22 season.

By ZK Goh ·

Reigning ice dance world champions Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France will not defend their title this year, having withdrawn from March's World Championships.

The French skating federation said a lack of competition, Covid-19 protocols including quarantines, and psychological wear and tear were "elements and constraints which do not permit preparation in optimal conditions for such a prestigious gathering".

Instead, the Montreal-based couple will turn their attention to the 2021/22 season, and focus on preparing for the Beijing 2022 Olympic Games which are now just over 12-months away.

This year's World Championships are scheduled to be held from 22–28 March in Stockholm, Sweden.

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Cizeron, who like his teammate contracted and recovered from Covid-19 last year, said continuing doubt over whether this year's World Championships will go ahead as planned factored into the decision.

"We have never known such a long time without competition," he said in the French federation's statement. "The series of cancellations provoked a climate of uncertainty and doubt that is difficult for all top-level athletes to manage.

"The holding of the World Championships still being hypothetical, we need a more solid and concrete objective – the 2022 Olympic Games are our priority," he added.

Previously, the duo had said they would skip December's French nationals – eventually rescheduled to February – and the now-cancelled European Championships.

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Papadakis and Cizeron have not competed since last year's Europeans in January, when they suffered a surprise defeat to Russia's Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov. They had been assigned to this season's Internationaux de France Grand Prix in Grenoble, which was later cancelled.

If the four-time world champions do not compete again until the new season begins, the duo will possibly have spent up to 20 months without official competition. Last September, they performed their new free dance routine in an online exhibition held by their skating club in Montreal.

That has been the only glimpse of them on the ice that their fans have seen since the pair took silver in Austria behind Sinitsina and Katsalapov.

Papadakis said she hoped competition could take place under normal conditions later in 2021.

"We want everything on our side for next season, hoping that conditions will be met in September for sporting events to resume normally," she said.

"We can't wait to get back on the ice, to competition, and to seeing the public."