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!
We are all emotionally invested in the success of our favorite skaters and we ride the roller coaster with them. Aside from the ups and downs of my week in Boston, there were a few unique memories that stand out in my mind as part of my incredible 2016 Worlds experience.
After I got home, I added up the time that I spent in TD Gardens, and over the course of 7 days, I was physically in that building for 95 hours. That’s insane. What makes it a crazier number is that on the day 7 (Gala day), I was only there 3 hours. So, 92 of those hours came in just 6 days!! What is even worse is that I ate mostly arena food that whole time. Ugh, no wonder I am craving salad and fruit now. But, in the end, to have the chance to see Yuzu practice and compete live again, it is all worth it!! The energy of his presence makes me shiver.
Even though I left my house for Boston on Sunday at 4am, by the time I got there that night, I couldn’t sleep because I was so excited for the event to start. That night I set up 3 separate alarms to make sure I wasn’t late for the start of the first day of practice. I knew based on experience at another Yuzu event, that there would be a mad rush for the premium seats for the early morning mens practice. Long story short: Did you know that if you don’t answer the wake up phone call from the hotel, they will send a security guard to knock on your door and check on you?? I was impressed by the Westin!
First practice, the excitement and anticipation built as the “will Yuzu show up for the early morning practice” chatter gained momentum. From the moment he came out to chat with Brian and say “hi” to Nam, there was a buzz in the crowd. When Yuzu’s session was about to start, for whatever reason, Yuzu came onto the ice carrying Pooh. I don’t recall where Brian was at the time because I was only focusing on Yuzu. When Yuzu reached down to greet the ice as he normally does, Pooh went down to the ice as well (Pooh was in Yuzu’s arms). From my vantage point, it looked like Pooh was touching the ice too. That was my first “awe” moment of the week and I was SO excited to have captured it in pictures. Here is one that I took. (*Please do not repost the picture without my permission).
Once thing about the announcer during the first day of practices was that she was never good, never accurate announcing that there was one minute left in the practice session. Sometimes she announced it and then 10 seconds later, she would say practice was over. This confused the skaters and the fans during the first few sessions. This also happened during Yuzu’s first practice session. We heard the announcement, suddenly, about 15 seconds later, the zamboni’s were coming out to flood the ice.
Yuzu was just as surprised as the rest of us, and he was actually motioning here in this picture that they just announced 1 minute left in the practice session. So, the skaters were chased off the ice.
Photo credit: @michlmint on twitter (Thanks!)
The organizers were really pushing social media and the #Worlds2016 hashtag. At last count, they had over 150,000 tweets with that hashtag, and they put a few of them up on the Jumbotron. The best #worlds2016 tweet that I saw was: “The best part of worlds is trying to figure out the Japanese ads on the Jumbotron”. Watching the one ad and seeing a guy’s head coming out of a box was confusing, as we all tried to figure out what exactly the ad was selling. Some of my seat neighbours thought the ad was for washing machines, some thought it was for a health product. We never did find out what the 2 ads were all about.
When the events let out for the evening, and we were trying to hail a cab, each night we would see a Boston Police Escort for the giant buses (lights and sirens blaring). Initially we thought these buses might be for some VIPs, politicians or something but it was confirmed by Mischa Ge that it was for the skaters. It looks like due to the fan crowds that blocked the buses at Steriti rink (unfortunately because they all wanted to see/touch Yuzu), the organizers felt they needed to add some additional crowd control. Police escorts in major cities cost a lot of money. Nice to see Boston took care of the skaters’ safety!
I must say that for the beginning of the mens short program event, Boston put out the most adorable flower boys!! The little one that kept skating in front of us could barely skate initially, not lifting his blades off the ice, but as he gained more confidence, he got better as the time went.
Photo credit: unknown (will update if I can find the twitter account again)
As an added bonus of 2016 Worlds, this was my first competition where I was trying out some sports photography and I found out that my new camera LOVES YUZU!!! There are people that are naturally photogenic, and then there is Yuzu!! Holy cow! Every shot, whether it is blurry or crystal clear, Yuzu appears as adorable as ever. Ok, ok….maybe not in the action shots. It’s hard to maintain adorableness mid-quad!
Yuzu wearing a basic t-shirt at last practice was a nice treat. While I love Yuzu’s Under Amour training gear, this was a “first” for competition practice that I have seen.
Aside from the gasping when Yuzu missed his jumps during his free program, the other most gasp-worthy moment was when Shoma fell on the second quad attempt. When he grabbed his ribs my heart went into my throat. Afterwards, watching him fight back the tears, and trying not to cry in the Kiss and Cry area was so heart wrenching, reminding everyone how tough this sport is. He fought hard and Japan has 3 places at next year’s worlds to show for it!!
While waiting for the Gala to start, I was checking my test shots and trying to adjust for the darker lighting. The officer started singing the national anthem. While I was not looking at him (I was checking my camera while standing), I was still listening to the anthem. When he sang the wrong words, I suddenly lifted my head with a puzzled look on my face. My seat neighbour noticed my reaction and laughed. He thought it was even funnier when I told him that I wasn’t even American, yet I knew the words were sung incorrectly!! All those years of listening to the anthems at hockey games has paid off. We always see bloopers of anthems on tv, but this was my first live blooper. Oh and by the way, the officer quickly recovered, and sang the rest of the anthem correctly.
As an added bonus, during the opening of the gala, we got to see a very rare event. Yuzu attempting a Russian split jump. It was adorable!!! His left leg went up first, and the right had to catch up. So precious!!
Photo source: taken as a screen shot from a video
Ok, for the second year in a row, I at least got the 3 medalists for the Worlds Podium predictions correct. I still got the top 2 in the wrong order, but I’m confident that Yuzu will fix that next season. When I predicted Boyang for bronze, it was a bit of a long shot, but hey, it worked!! I’m proud of going out on a limb for that kid, he’s super fun to watch.
So, already looking forward to next season, we will see 2 new programs from Yuzu. I can’t wait to see what Yuzu has in store for us next season!!
Go Yuzu Go!! Doki Doki!