Figure skating-French dancers return to the Games unfazed – Reuters

Figure Skating – ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating – Internationaux de France – Patinoire Polesud, Grenoble, France – November 20, 2021 France's Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron in action during the ice dance REUTERS/Denis Balibouse
BEIJING, Feb 4 (Reuters) – Four year after a costume malfunction cost them the title at the 2018 Olympics, French ice dancer Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron are back at the Games, unfazed by the favourites tag in Beijing.
In Pyeongchang, the clasp holding Papadakis's dress together came undone and threatened to slip further during the short programme only for the pair to bounce back in style for the free dance and claim a silver medal behind Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir.
Papadakis had described the event as her 'worst nightmare' but the duo are now over the incident and ready to get back to competition after a self-imposed hiatus to minimise the risks of contracting COVID-19.
They skipped the European championships last month, meaning they go into the Olympics having not competed against their main rivals, Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov of the ROC (Russian Olympic Committee) in two years.
The Russians were on the Capital Indoor Stadium's ice for the team event on Friday and Papadakis was on site to watch.
"I went to see it. It was very interesting. Madion (Hubbell) and Zacharie Donohue) skated very well, there's nothing to say," she told a news conference, referring to the American duo's first place in the short programme ahead of Sinitsina and Katsalapov.
Four-time world champions Papadakis and Cizeron, who sat out the entire 2020-21 season because of COVID-19, suffered their only defeat of the Olympic cycle against the Russians at the 2020 European championships.
"When I put those two teams head to head, at this point, the French have the clear advantage," Tanith White, a 2006 Olympics ice dance silver medallist, said.
Papadakis and Cizeron, however, have learned to steer clear of comparisons and predictions as they seek to control only what they can control.
"We're used to being the favourites. It's been years. It's a permanent challenge and the best way to cope with it is to focus on our performance only," said Cizeron.
"Usually, when we're happy with our performance, the results are great.
"So we focus on training and competition."
The ice dance event starts on Feb. 12.
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