Canadian ice dancing pair Gilles/Poirier win Espoo GP with personal-best score

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HELSINKI, Nov. 27 (Xinhua) -- Canada's Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier continued their successful season with another Grand Prix gold medal after beating American pair Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker in Saturday's free dance in Espoo, Finland.

The 2021 world bronze medalists and this season's Skate Canada champions scored a personal best of 131.69 points after dancing to "Evita" to collect a level four for five elements and a level three for two more, totaling 219.49 points for the gold medal.

"Going into our program today, we were a little bit tired," Gilles admitted.

"But we're really proud of our performance. We definitely felt that it was a step up from Skate Canada," she added.

Hawayek and Baker claimed their second Grand Prix silver medal this season with a 121.53-point free dance and 202.46 points overall, and will go together with the Canadian pair to the ISU Grand Prix Final next month.

"We don't have a lot of time before the Final, as this is the last Grand Prix, so the next two weeks will really be about managing our energy and making sure that we're not too tired," Poirier said.

Local favorites Julie Turkkila and Matthias Versus finished third with a total of 191.79 points, taking the first ice dancing Grand Prix medal for Finland.

The sole Chinese pair, Wang Shiyue and Liu Xinyu, who ranked 12th at Beijing 2022 to set a new best result for China's ice dancers at a Winter Olympics last February and stood seventh at the NHK Trophy last week, finished ninth with a total score of 165.20.

Ilia Malinin of the United States, just 17, jumped to the men's trophy and right into the GP Final after scoring 192.82 points with his free skate routine to "Euphoria" and racking up 278.39, despite his quad Axel was a bit underrotated and he touched down with his hand.

Japan's Shun Sato moved up from third to second at 262.21 points total after achieving a personal best of 180.62 in free skate, and secured a Final spot as well. Overnight leader Kevin Aymoz of France sat third with a 166.73 free skate and 255.69 overall.

Mai Mihara, a two-time Four Continents champion, completed three clean triple jumps to net 130.56 points in the women's free skate, and totaled 204.14 points to overtake reigning world silver medalist Loena Hendrickx of Belgium for her second GP gold this season. Her fellow Japanese Mana Kawabe picked up the bronze.

Italian Rebecca Ghilardi and Filippo Ambrosini struck the pairs gold and secured their spot in the GP Final. Germany's Alisa Efimova and Ruben Blommaert climbed from fourth to second, while Anastasiia Metelkina and Daniil Parkman claimed the bronze, the first pairs GP medal for Georgia.

The Grand Prix in Espoo, slated on November 25-27, is the sixth and last event in the 2022-2023 ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Series. Only the top six skaters or pairs in each discipline can qualify for the GP Final in Torino, Italy on December 8-11. Enditem

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