As the Grand Prix action continues to heat up with the fourth stop on the six part competition tour in Bordeaux, France, one might be a tad curious about the origins and history of this competition. Although France had certainly been home to many major figure skating competitions - Olympics, World, European and World Junior Championships aplenty over the years in fact - earlier in the country's skating history other invitational competitions such as the Grand Prix St. Gervais and the Morzine Trophy were the most prominent annual international competitions France boasted.
In response to the other more prominent invitationals being offered at the time like Skate Canada, Skate America, NHK Trophy, Novarat Trophy in Hungary, Ennia Challenge Cup in Holland and St. Ivel in England, France decided to get in on the game in 1987 by introducing the Lalique Trophy. Although good ol' Wikipedia refers to this event in its early years as the 'Grand Prix International de Paris' all primary sources indicate it was indeed called the Lalique Trophy (or Trophée Lalique) until 1994, when the Trophée Lalique name was briefly lended to a professional competition in France that was judged by a live audience, similar to The Great Skate Debate and Rowenta Masters On Ice professional competitions later in the nineties professional skating boom. During this time period, the amateur event was known for two years as Trophée de France, resuming its use Trophée Lalique name from 1996 to 2003. In 2004, when cashmere company Éric Bompard took over from the Lalique glassware company as the title sponsor, the name officially changed. The event, of course, has been a mainstay of the Grand Prix from its early days as The Champions Series until now.
The winner of the first Lalique Trophy women's title in November 1987 was none other than Jill Trenary. After winning the school figures, The Palm Beach Post on November 14, 1987 noted that "The U.S. Champion had marks of 5.2 to 5.8 for her two-minute program with seven basic free skating moves. Skating to 'Irma La Douce', she had a difficult triple flip-double toe combination in her exercise that counted for 20 percent of the total score. with today's final free program left, she had 1.0 ordinals." Maintaining a strong lead after winning the short program and surviving a fall in her free skate to easily topple France's Agnès Gosselin and West Germany's Patricia Neske. Canada's Diane Takeuchi was fourth with 5.2 points and another Canadian, Lyndsay Fedosoff of Mississauga, Ontario, was sixth. In the pairs event in 1987, the brother/sister team of Natalie and Wayne Seybold of the U.S. held onto their short program lead over the Soviet pair of Julya Bystrova and Alexander Tarasov to take the title. Lauren Collin of Burlington, Ontario and John Penticost of Chateuaguay, Quebec finished third in both the short and long programs to take the bronze medal. In the men's event, Petr Barna outskated Angelo D'Agostino of the U.S. and Great Britain's Paul Robinson for the gold, with St. Bruno's Jaimee Eggleton in fifth and Port Moody, B.C. native Brad McLean in seventh. The ice dance winners were Italians Lia Trovati and Roberto Pelizzola with Susie Wynne and Joseph Druar in second and France's Corinne Paliard and Didier Courtois in third. A young Evgeni Platov finished fourth with then partner Larisa Fedorinova and Canada's only entry, Kim Weeks of Calgary and Curtis Moore of Wingham, Ontario, finished in a disappointing seventh and last place.
Over the years, so many wonderful moments have taken place at this competition. For instance, in November 1989, Susanna Rahkamo and Petri Kokko made history when they won the bronze medal at Trophée Lalique. In doing so, they won Finland's first ever ice dance medal in any international competition. The winner of the women's event that year was Surya Bonaly.
The event has also been the source of many major upsets. In 1995, Josée Chouinard beat the reigning World Champion Lu Chen. Two years later, it was Laetitia Hubert's turn to unseat another reigning World Champion, Tara Lipinski. Past winners read like a who's who of figure skating: Kurt Browning, Michelle Kwan, Yuna Kim, Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze, Ilia Kulik, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, Paul Wylie, Joannie Rochette, Todd Eldredge, Artur Dmitriev with both of his partners, Alexei Yagudin, Marina Anissina and Gwendal Peizerat, Evgeni Plushenko, Jeffrey Buttle, Patrick Chan, Mao Asada... that's just the tip of the iceberg. With a formidable who's who crew (see what I did there?) in Bordeaux this week, perhaps it's high time some new names got added to that prestigious list. Don't think for a second skating history isn't in the making. It is every day.
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