French Olympic duo Vanessa James and Morgan Ciprès gave figure skating a heavy metal soundtrack Wednesday night during PyeongChang's pair skating short program. James and Ciprès skated to Disturbed's "Sound of Silence," a dynamic cover of the popular Simon & Garfunkel folk tune, which features mighty vocals and triumphant swells better suited to an ice skating competition than the mellowness of the original.
This is the first year that Olympic figure skaters have been allowed to choose music with lyrics, and many are still trying to navigate how to best take advantage of the new rules.
"At the beginning, people were just choosing random music," Ciprès told the Associated Press on Tuesday. "But after some time I think people realized it didn't work. You have to choose your music carefully."
James and Ciprès' "Sound of Silence" routine was almost the same as the one they performed when they came in eighth at the 2017 World Team Trophy in Tokyo last April. At the time, the Disturbed routine wowed audiences and went viral on social media. It's since raked up almost 6 million views on YouTube.
Given the success of the song choice then, the couple was smart to reprise it for the Olympics. But initially they weren't so confident about the track; when their coaches first approached them with it, Ciprès was especially skeptical.
"Morgan listened to it and was like, 'I don't like it,' because we weren't used to it," James told the AP. "And I was like, 'OK, let me see if I can get into this.' I thought it could be amazing, and I was like, 'Morgan, let's trust them.' And we were so right to have trusted them."
"When you have a powerful voice and words to express," she added, "it changes everything."
James and Cipres' performance on Wednesday wasn't enough to win them a medal, though they did briefly hold the top spot as the 15th pair to compete out of a 22-couple lineup. They came in sixth for the short program (with a score of 75.34), fifth in the free skating (with a score of 143.19), and fifth overall (with a score of 218.53 to the winners' 235.90). Those scores were slightly lower than the personal bests they achieved during the 2017 World Team Trophy.
The couple has previously competed at the Olympics together for the 2014 games in Sochi, where they placed 10th. James also participated in the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, coming in 14th with Yannick Bonheur.
James and Ciprès would likely have placed better on Wednesday if they hadn't experienced a nasty fall in the middle of the "Sound of Silence" routine. It happened during their attempt at a throw quad salchow, an extremely difficult move that had never yet been landed at the Olympics. Canadian pair Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford went on to successfully complete the maneuver on Thursday.
James and Ciprès are certainly capable of landing the move:
And they nearly made it happen during the 2017 World Team Trophy, when James completed the throw quad salchow without falling (about 1:50 in first video above) but landed on two feet, as opposed to nailing it with one foot like you're supposed to.
"When you have some guy throwing you, it doesn’t get any more dangerous than that," James told Reuters after a practice earlier this week. "The slightest fatigue, you can throw your partner badly [and] your body has to be warmed up to perform properly. Like any discipline — but ours is a little more risky, I think."
For their short program, James and Cipres made a more conventional music choice — Ed Sheeran's "Make it Rain" (a cover of the Foy Vance track). In addition to traditional classical pieces, the figure skating program included hits from the likes of Lorde, the Rolling Stones, U2, and Leonard Cohen.