Hey sports fans!! Thanks for stopping by my blog! I am a self admitted “rink rat” so a lot of this blog will be about figure skating and hockey, however as an ex-figure skater, ex-varsity athlete and a sports fan in general, I usually have thoughts and opinions about alot of different sports I follow, so visit often!
Now THAT is how you make HISTORY and achieve LEGENDARY status. Don’t just break a world record that you already own, break three records at the same event!! And, while you are at it, don’t just break the records; destroy them! Make the records so untouchable that you will be the only person to challenge them! This is the competitive spirit in me talking.
There really aren’t enough words to describe what we all witnessed on the weekend at NHK Trophy. Did it really happen? Yup, I’m pretty sure it did!!
Chopin: 106.33 (*new* WR)
When Yuzu set the Short Program World Record of 101.45 at the Sochi Olympics (with his Parisian Walkways SP), I thought the world record would stand for quite awhile. There was no one in the current mens field or upcoming skaters that I thought could touch 101.45. But I guess I forgot about Yuzu himself.
When Yuzu debuted his new Chopin short program last season, I’ll be honest; I wasn’t a big fan of the Chopin program. I did not see how it could possibly eclipse Parisian Walkways (101.45), either as my favorite program or as a record breaking program.
Last season we never saw Chopin the way Yuzu envisioned it. Yuzu had to simplify the contents of his short program last season due to his injuries. What we saw early on this season at the Autumn Classic and at Skate Canada also did not give us any indication that a change this significant was coming either. Yuzu never fails to amaze us! This was his vision for the future?? Wow, I would give anything to get inside Yuzu’s head for just a little while to see how he thinks!!
You have to wonder if it took the disasterous SP performance at Skate Canada to ignite the fire and release an “inner dragon” within Yuzu to finally make the changes he wanted. And, when Yuzu gets what he wants, the fans get to reap the benefits!!!!
It’s as if after Skate Canada he said to himself, “I’ve had enough of this, I either do it the way I want to or not at all”. So he didn’t actually say this but the change of Chopin content and layout between Skate Canada and NHK Trophy was significant! Now I totally understand what I saw during the Gala practice at Skate Canada!! All those crazy quad jumps with different entries that we thought he was doing for fun; he was already re-designing Chopin in his mind.
Because Boyang was the last skater in the first group, Yuzu saw some of Boyang’s short program and heard Boyangs’ huge score while waiting to take the ice for his warm up. Talk about mental toughness when you see someone perform so well that you can say to yourself, “Wait and watch me!! I can beat that!” Now that Yuzu has his confidence back, look out world!!
While watching Yuzu’s SP skate at NHK, I didn’t need to touch the side of my neck to know my heart rate. I could actually feel it pounding and count every beat during his skate.
Even now, Chopin is still not my favorite SP of all time (that honour is still reserved for PW), but the Chopin skate at NHK was a beautiful thing to watch. The layout is now more exciting and I am so happy for Yuzu!
Video of NHK Chopin: http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x3frxws_151127-nhk-trophy-yuzuru-hanyu-sp_sport
Seimei: 216.07 (*new* WR)
Already in love with this program, it was with great anticipation that I stayed up until 2:30am for a second night in a row to watch it live. All I could do was sit and pray for a clean performance, better than the one at Skate Canada. I could never imagine what I was about to see.
As with the short program, Yuzu was getting ready to go on the ice for his free program and got to see the end of Boyang’s free program and hear Boyangs’ scores again. Maybe seeing Boyang prior to his performances is the key to Yuzu’s success?? Can we turn Boyang into a little mascot for Yuzu? It seems that other skaters performing well serves as a strong motivator for Yuzu. A true competitor, Yuzu always wants other skaters to skate their best.
Along with the rest of the skating world I watched in awe as Yuzu delivered the performance of his life. I squealed in delight and screamed at the screen each time Yuzu landed a jump. The landings were so picture perfect. I was a bit nervous when he was going to do his hydro-blading because he seemed to be a tiny bit tired, and I didn’t think he had enough speed, but I worried needlessly. Way to go Yuzu!!
There were those special moments within the program that gave me goose bumps again; my favorite is the forward cross steps to the beat of the drums during the first step sequence. I am in love with those 4 cross steps. It’s crazy I know! The steps are so simple yet so powerful!!!
As Yuzu approached the entry to the triple lutz (his final jump) I swear I could hear fans worldwide suck in their breath and hold it until the jump was successfully landed. The double fist pump was a fantastic, genuine moment of pure excitement and happiness that Yuzu couldn’t supress. How Yuzu remained calm and collected until he finished the remaining non-jump elements, I do not know.
As Kurt Browning said, for Yuzu this moment was probably better than Yuzu’s Olympic moment since he did not skate his FP perfectly at Sochi. Yuzu was at home, skated Seimei perfectly, and skated the lights out in the Nagano arena! If there was any doubt in anyone’s mind after last season that Yuzu is not #1, he put those doubts to rest very quickly!!
Video of NHK Seimei: http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x3g11sl
In the 48 hours that was the NHK Trophy, I had a total of 7.5 hours of sleep. Primarily because the 16 hour time difference between Alberta and Japan, and I actually had to go to work for a day in between the short program and long program. But, to watch Yuzu live, it’s worth it! The moments of NHK were priceless!
Yuzu served notice to the rest of the world that he is back, and is #1. He has thrown down the technical guantlet, the artistic gauntlet, and most importantly, the mental guantlet. All other competitors are going to think that there is no way to beat Yuzu unless he is injured or not feeling well, or having a bad day, and they are right. There is a special quality about Yuzu that is unmatched. It is a natural gift.
Combined Score: 322.40 (*new* WR)
There was a lot of speculation about “if and when” Yuzu would eclipse the 300 point mark. Funny how I said “Yuzu” and not any other skater. I don’t think skating fans had any other skater in mind when they thought about breaking the 300 barrier. I also don’t think it was a matter of “if”, but more of a question of “when”. Well, we have our answer now. In my mind, I thought Yuzu would achieve 300 through a strong short program and a clean long program, and when he did, I dreamed that it would be in the 303 range maybe? Never in my wildest dreams did I think he would skip the 300 series, and the 310 series and go straight to the 320’s!!
Yuzu has said that he still wants to change his programs to improve and make them harder. Ok, on the TES side of the equation, Yuzu could change the entries to the quads, or the types of quads he attempts. Perhaps he can try to squeeze out a tiny bit more on the GOE side, but there’s not much left there to get with the current layout.
In the press conference following the event, Yuzu also talked about his quad loop and quad lutz, and neither are ready for prime time yet. So, I suspect we will see these in the future.
However, when I look at the protocol for Seimei and the PCS score of 97.20, there isn’t much room for improvement. The highest score you can get is 100 (factor 2) so what could Yuzu possibly do to get the remaining 2.80 points? For the judges that didn’t give him 10’s…what more did they think they needed to see?
During the weekend, I was trying to explain to 2 of my non-figure skating fan friends what Yuzu meant to the sport of figure skating, how fantastic his performances were this weekend, and just how significant the new world records were. To put Yuzu’s amazing achievement into context, I found a tweet (thanks for @pandaatlarge’s approval to use her example) that described it very well.
The current world record for the 200m sprint is 19.19 seconds
The current world record for the 100m sprint is 9.58 seconds.
Imagine if Usain Bolt breaks the 200m record with 18.31 seconds on the first day of competition, then comes back and breaks the 100m record with a 8.72 seconds? The numbers are unreal.
The math behind this:
19.19 x 101.45/106.33 = 18.31
9.58 x 196.75/216.07 = 8.72
These same non-skating fan friends asked me if it was worth it to stay awake for 48 hours just to watch Yuzu. The answer: ABSOLUTELY YES!!
Another example to put Yuzu’s achievements this weekend into context: Points aside, Yuzu has not skated 2 (SP, FP) clean performances in the same event since the 2010 Japanese Eastern Sectionals. His last clean FP was Junior Worlds in 2010. This weekend was what Yuzu has been dreaming of for the last 4 years. 2 clean programs in the same event as a senior. Now that he knows he can do it, it will be his own personal benchmark going forward.
I think that Yuzu will need to refresh all the videos on his iPad that he uses as his examples for image training. He now has a new set of “perfect” jump execution videos for him to review when he is struggling.
At this point I want to send a special shout out to the Russian site that allowed me to watch the Short Program streaming live. Thank you so much!! The silly CBCSports network chooses only to show the Long Program. I have asked them repeatedly if they can broadcast/stream the short programs too, but my requests thus far have fallen on deaf ears. I will keep trying because the CBC broadcasts (tv and live streaming) are usually high quality. Since CBC has the tv rights, the ISU blocks Canadians from watching their stream, which makes no sense to me, so not showing the short program and the tv rights rules only serve to alienate fans.
Every Yuzu fan will have their special moments that they treasure from watching Yuzu this weekend. Here are my own special, personal memories from this weekend.
Orser: I have no words. Good Boy!!
Yuzu: Just “Good boy”?
Yuzu: Amazing Boy!!
Good lord, he’s cute!!
I SWEAR when Yuzu said “Amazing Boy” I thought Yuzu said “…raised bar”? And my answer yelling at my computer screen was “OMG, did you ever raise the bar!!” But then I listened to it again and again, and got confirmation from other fans that he said “Amazing Boy!” But, I like my version too! : )
Kurt Browning called him a megastar. He already was a rock star in Japan. Carol Lane then said he was “Supernova”. I think Yuzu is going to have to double his security detail now. It’s the downside of fame, but I can only imagine the media attention in Japan now, everyone wants a piece of Yuzu. Let’s hope he can be left alone to focus and prepare for Grand Prix Final, and better yet Worlds!!! At least he will be in Canada after his event in early January, where he can let his guard down a little bit.
I have no doubt that Yuzu is the most powerful person in the sport of figure skating today. His influence, and his star power reaches beyond the ice rink. Fortunately for the world, he uses his power and attention to do good in this world, he is truly special. I’m not sure if Yuzu knows how powerful he is. I’m sure Yuzu has some idea of how much influence he can yield, but yet he remains humble about it, almost shy about it. This is a very special quality.
As many commentators have said, Yuzu has now raised the bar in men’s figure skating. He has shown the world what the new gold standard is. The only thing I am worried about is expectations (both fans expectations of Yuzu, and Yuzu’s expectations of himself). No one can be perfect all the time, but that’s what makes figure skating such a fun sport to watch.
One parting thought: The Hanyu Axel?
I was chatting with a good friend about Yuzu and it was about naming something after Yuzu. Since I believe that if a clean quad axel is going to be landed, it will be done by Yuzu. Yuzu’s triple axel technique is the most nautral technique of anyone in the field, so if he were to ever land a clean Quad Axel, I think we should name it The Hanyu Axel. What do you think??? I’m just having fun!
(Hopefully no one else does it first – I want the name to be reserved for Yuzu!)
Message to Yuzu: Way to go Yuzu!!!! You’ve done Japan proud!! And, you’ve done Yuzu skating fans from all around the world proud too!! Train safe, listen to Brian and see you in person in Boston!!!
Go Yuzu Go!! Doki Doki!!!