SportyMags

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!

Yuzuru Hanyu: Autumn Classic 2016

The long awaited 2016 Autumn Classic (AC) is now in the record books, literally!! CONGRATULATIONS to Yuzu for being the first man to ever land a quad loop in an ISU competition!!

For the 2nd straight year, Yuzu decided to attend the Skate Canada Autumn Classic, bless his heart!!  Any time you get to see Yuzu skate in person is a mind blowing experience.  My first time seeing Yuzu live in person was at last year’s Autumn Classic (2015) – here was my recap of my 2015 experience.

https://sportymags.wordpress.com/2015/10/16/yuzuru-hanyu-my-experience-at-the-autumn-classic/

Attending this “local” event helps Yuzu significantly in reducing the wear and tear of travel over the course of a season.  Staying well rested is key for Yuzu in the remaining 1.5 years left leading up to 2018 Pyeongchang!!  Wow, as I just typed “1.5 years left”, I suddenly realize how fast the last 4 year Olympic cycle has gone by!!

Day 1:  Practice 1 

The first practice this year at AC had an extra special excitement level because no one had seen Yuzu in such a long time.  When Yuzu appeared my heart totally started racing!!  The atmosphere in the arena came to life when Yuzu came through the tunnel entrance.    My heart always beats faster when he’s near and it doesn’t stop beating like crazy until he leaves the ice.  It’s just so breathtaking watching him work.  Since Yuzu had 40 minutes for each practice session, and my heart rate was elevated throughout the entirety of each practice, I will have to ask my trainer if this counts as a workout!!  Ha ha.

The first thing I noticed was that Kikuchi-san was not there with Yuzu and Yuzu’s regular bodyguard seems to have been replaced with a new smaller guy.  It seemed a bit weird but we will see what happens at Skate Canada.  Hopefully Kikuchi-san was just on vacation and hopefully this new bodyguard will do a good job.

Yuzu opened up practice with his gorgeous helicopter double loop then a triple loop. Next came the largest single axel I have ever seen in my life!!!  It’s beautiful!!!  Then Yuzu landed a normal triple axel (this is the one that Andrew Dodds, the skater, tweeted).  He thought it was huge but what came next made me question my eyesight!!

Just when I thought ok, his axel is looking good, Yuzu goes and does another triple axel so huge in the air that he actually still had hang time after he finished the full rotation before landing in what I think could be the start of prepping for a quad axel in the future.  I only saw him do this once.  I was kicking myself for not getting this one on video.  He definitely has the ability with the height, power and technique to do the quad axel in the future.  But, Yuzu can save that for later.

During the practice, Yuzu popped a few quad salchows and each time he just pointed to his head to blame himself.  He did not seem too frustrated, and kept very upbeat throughout the practice.  I think he was just really excited about being there.  He had a little extra adrenaline to deal with as well.

The triple flip Yuzu did at beginning of practice was also magnificent!!  He seems to have increased the height and distance on this jump.  He only did it once.

About 3/4 of the way through practice, Yuzu put on his jacket so I thought he was getting ready for his cool down.  After a couple minutes, he took off his jacket again.  Then out of nowhere, he suddenly took off like a rocket from deep in the corner into a step sequence. He was doing the short program footwork sequence.  Holy crap the acceleration was fast!!!! He took 3 strides and was at full speed!!  Having seen this on the first day helped me later when I was trying to video his run through on practice Day #2, because I knew when to expect it, but the first time I saw it, it was such a surprise that I was rendered speechless.

Many skaters stayed to watch Yuzu practice.   It was out of this world good.

During his LP run through, Yuzu attempted his 4 quads.  First he did his quad salchow with a touch down on the landing but next, the quad loop was simply breath taking, clean as a whistle.  No issues with quad toe that followed either.  I don’t recall the result of the 4th quad but it didn’t really matter!  While it was my first time hearing the new LP music, I must say that the music was not memorable for me.

One notable moment during the senior women’s practice earlier that day – when one of the skaters was done and ready to put her jacket on, she let out a blood curdling scream because there was a large spider on her jacket!!  It ended up falling on the ice and I immediately thought “where is Yuzu to help come pick this bug up off the ice??”  haha

Day 2: Practice 2

Practice for the short program on Day 2 was going to be so exciting!!  Aside from watching Yuzu work his magic on the ice, the anticipation of seeing the first run through of “Let’s Go Crazy” was exhilarating.

I’m not a huge Prince fan but I love “fast Yuzu”, and this music not only showcases his ability to skate to many genres of music but that he does everything well even with a fast beat.  After 2 seasons of Chopin I was praying for up tempo music and the skating gods heard my wish.  I think that once Yuzu irons out the kinks in “Let’s Go Crazy”, this will be a great program for him!

As with the Day 1 first practice, Yuzu did one single massive triple flip.  He has definitely worked hard to improve the height and strength on that jump.  During this practice Yuzu landed a quad loop but not perfectly.  He also landed 2 quad salchows combos and a beautiful quad toe.  He only did one quad toe so he is still limiting the number of quad toes during practice.   It was a good thing I saw that crazy acceleration into fast footwork yesterday so I knew what and when to expect it on this day.

During the short program run through, Yuzu failed to land the quad loop (did a triple), but his quad salchow, triple toe combination was perfection, and his triple axel was magnificent with the kick on the end of it.  The accents he added with his little hand gestures during spins and footwork were timed to the beats perfectly and were subtle yet very on point.  I was so distracted by Yuzu’s skating that I didn’t even know if the Prince song had all the words other than the first sentence.  I had to watch my video replay to confirm that the whole program had words!

Near the end of practice, Yuzu fell a few times on his quad loop attempts, but each time he fell, he got up smiling.  Then Brian told him that was enough.  Yuzu definitely needs Brian to tell him when to stop.  I think Yuzu would have tried that quad loop another dozen times until he could do it perfectly if he was on his own and Brian wasn’t watching him.

My notable moment from the senior womens’ practice earlier this day was Rike Hongo’s short program. I was blown away.  No wonder it was fantastic, Shae-Lyne Bourne choreographed it!!  This is the type of music I would love for Yuzu to skate to.  One can only hope.

6 Minute Warm Up and Short Program

img_3632

Photo source: Yutaka

When Yuzu appeared for the 6 minute warm up, we all saw the white sleeves and the white puffy vest.  When I looked down and saw full white pants and white boot coverings, I was at a loss for words.  Holy crap!!  Then when I saw the decorative design on the pant leg, my initial reaction was “Elvis”?  Not sure why Elvis versus Prince but I’m over that now.

I think Yuzu took the title of the song “Let’s Go Crazy” to heart!!  This was CRAZY white!  I remember a comment made by Yuzu awhile ago that he always loved to wear black pants because it made his legs look slim and long.  So, when Jeffrey Buttle suggested “Let’s Go Crazy” to Yuzu, I think Yuzu thought he meant the costume too!!!  Ha ha…just kidding.

If Yuzu was going for “shock value“, he got GOE +3 on this one!!!   He had a small cute smirk on his face when he took off his jacket (he was facing my direction while he took off his jacket) and he seemed very pleased with the stunned silence in the building.  It wasn’t like last year in Barrie where you heard an audible gasp from the crowd when he debuted the small changes to the Chopin costume.  This time when Yuzu revealed the full white outfit, there was not a sound in the arena except for camera motor drives going crazy!  All of us in the stands were speechless for a split second moment, then the buzz started!! Kudos to Yuzu and his design team for being able to keep this costume such a secret from everyone, even Brian!

My thoughts on the white costume: I never thought of white as a dramatic colour, but this was “pow” white, very dramatic!  I hope he changes the pants from white to black, but I suspect the white is here to stay for this season.  I don’t love the costume, but I don’t hate it either.  As long as Yuzu likes it, and Johnny Weir didn’t design it, then I can live with it.

As for the short program itself, it was an amazing program and I love up the tempo!!!  Can we keep this Yuzu???  As beautiful as his slow programs are, I love this Yuzu!!!!  I also love the potential it has to become one of his best short programs of all time.  We just need to give Yuzu some time for him to refine it and make it what he wants it to be.  For a first time performing it, it was “Wow”!!  My favorite parts are the out of the corner acceleration into the footwork sequence and the high kick after the triple axel landing.  My very least favorite part is the Johnny Weir stretch move.

Day 3: Practice 3

If the night before wasn’t enough excitement, today we were going to be treated to another new program and another new costume!!  Thank goodness the AC did not have a gala; I don’t know if I could have handled a third new program and third new costume all in 3 days!

I tried to pay more attention to the LP music selection at this practice to see if I just missed it because I was watching Yuzu so intently during the first practice or if I just didn’t love it. Hearing it the second time, it still didn’t grab me.  I know I am comparing it to Seimei and other Yuzu programs where I have been totally engrossed in his skating and can love and feel the music with him but that’s the standard Yuzu has set for me.  This new music is a bit lacking in the “wow” factor for me, however I can appreciate that it is a beautiful piece of music.

Long Program

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Photo source: @yuzuru1207hanyu

Ok, his LP wasn’t Yuzu’s best performance by far, but that doesn’t even matter to me. He looks like he’s back in the game, ready to work hard and improve and show us the champion that he is.

Favorite moments of the short program:  I love love love the accentuating arm movement that Yuzu does after his quad salchow, triple toe combination.  The double arm pound downwards is pure Yuzu to me.  It reminds me of PW.  I cannot wait to see the polished choreography version of this program along with clean jumps.  It has great potential to be a wonderful program.

Prior to the medal ceremonies, I took a video of Yuzu where he walked towards the wrong door and met up with Misha.  If you were on the other side of the arena, what you didn’t see was that when Yuzu and Misha bent down below the boards they were on their hands and knees bowing down to each other.  I will try to learn how to make a gif of this precious moment and post it on my Sportymags facebook site in the future.  When the organizer told them to move to the other door and Yuzu did a single waltz jump along the pathway, Misha was the one who asked Yuzu “Do you wanna do one more triple axel?” and then motioned to Yuzu by pointing to the ice, Yuzu smiled sheepishly, and quickly nodded YES!! OMG this was sooooo adorable!!!!!  My wonderful firestarter phone (Samsung Note 7 – waiting for replacement) caught this conversation on the video.  It’s so adorable!!!

During the medal ceremonies Yuzu looking around for the Japanese flag while on the podium was priceless.  He did the same thing last year at the Autumn Classic.  I guess we should tell Skate Canada to pack a Japanese flag for next season if Yuzu says he will attend AC again.  Yuzu only needed to look straight ahead to see half a dozen of Japanese flags being held up by fans.

Who else but Yuzu goes and does not one but 2 triple axels after the medal ceremony is over for fun??  You gotta love him!!!!

**I haven’t had time to go through the photos I took during the Autumn Classic, so I will do another blog entry with some photos from AC in the near future.  Stay tuned!

Go Yuzu Go!!!  Doki Doki!!

Doki doki

**Cover photo credit: @yuzu_co_machi2

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11 comments on “Yuzuru Hanyu: Autumn Classic 2016

  1. Dasha
    October 5, 2016

    Thanks for sharing your impressions, it’s always a pleasure to read your posts.
    By the way, I wonder what’s wrong with the Johnny Weir’s move? 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • sportymags
      October 5, 2016

      😊. Nothing wrong with Johnnys move, I am just not a fan of Johnny and the move for me is a little bit out of character for yuzu. I dont feel its natural “yuzu” and not cool like the rest of the program. Just my humble opinion though. Thanks for reading!!

      Like

  2. Jackie
    October 6, 2016

    Another well-done post 😉
    Personally, I can’t wait until Yuzuru gets more comfortable with these programs and is able to skate them cleanly.
    I began my blog in 2007 because of Prince, so in this instance, I am a bigger fan of him than of figure skating. So when I heard Yuzuru was skating to his music, I knew I’d be critical of him living up to that. That’s why I want to one day see him do it PERFECTLY. But what I’ve seen of it so far, he is doing right by him.
    His LP music reminds me of something from a Miyazaki film. Not one film in particular, but in general. So I can’t wait to see that done personally as well. He has the right artistry to pull it off.
    Can’t wait for the season to begin- the junior grand prix series finishes this weekend and that was tiding me over until then 😛
    Too bad that series isn’t considered an ISU competition- otherwise Alexei Krasnozhon (American skater originally from St. Petersburg) would have gotten credit for doing the quad loop first. Although he didn’t do it anywhere near as good as Yuzuru, who did it like the natural he is 😉
    In the series, also, there’s a talented Japanese skater- Koshiro Shimada. Probably won’t break records like Yuzuru, but might be the next great skater to come from Japan in a couple years.

    Liked by 1 person

    • sportymags
      October 6, 2016

      I am looking forward to watching Koshiro develop as well. 😊

      Like

  3. ecovail
    October 6, 2016

    Hello again from Japan.
    I was super excite to read your post and translate to share with everyone.
    It was a long passionate soulful report.
    Your excitement beat my heart directly.

    Here are some words from the readers of my blog.

    「So happy that you shared the episode of Mishia and Yuzu, its so cute!」
    「Can`t wait to see your next post with the pictures from AC.」
    「Orser was saying that Yuzu wants change, so I thought that`s why Yuzu chose the [crazy white for his cousume.What do you think?」
    「Bit surprised about Jonny. Why don`t you like Jonny`s costume?」

    OK from here, my words then.
    >I will have to ask my trainer if this counts as a workout!!  Ha ha.


    Love it♡

    I was really impressed that you noticed that Kikuchi san wasn`t there while a llot of did even not notice, your observation surprised me very much.

    >He definitely has the ability with the height, power and technique to do the quad axel in the future.


    Makin my heart beat fast after I read this quote.

    >If Yuzu was going for “shock value“, he got GOE +3 on this one!!!  


    lol!!

    >He had a small cute smirk on his face when he took off his jacket


    I thought that Yuzu knew that  how huge impact this moment will be to the world a lot and planned as a part of the story of [Going crazy] Part of the making history of this sason. Part of path to becoming the  regacy for this  season.. Just making me gasps.

    >I don’t know if I could have handled a third new program and third new costume all in 3 days!


    I know I feel exactly the same!

    >Yuzu smiled sheepishly, and quickly nodded YES!! OMG this was sooooo adorable!!!!! 


    Hahahaha♡ So fun to read! Thank you!!

    >It’s just so breathtaking watching him work.


    Unfortunatelly I have not experienced yet. I will!

    So I can`t fully express how excited I was while I was translating your post this time.
    I laughed smiled impressed surprised and mostly made me happy !

    Thank you so mcuh for shareing your thoughts.
    I hope your heart beat normal today♡
    Looking forwered to reard your next post as always.
    Of course! We will Stay tuned!
    And thank you again so much for being very kind to me to use your image to write the story .
    I already did it. Many people read it . I will try to write that in English too. I hope I can send that story in nere future and you can read it.
    But writing is a weak point of my English skill.
    It`s always taking so long to me to write anything in English.
    Anyways. I looove reading your post.
    Go Yuzu Go! DOKIDOKI♡

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Konami
    October 10, 2016

    Thank you so much for your report!!
    It is so nice to know all the detail that Yuzu did. Unfortunately I couldn’t go to the event(; 😉 but it’s certainly made me fell better and excited after read your report.

    What I like about watching Yuzu at the medal celemoy,
    At first, Misha smelled his flower bouquet, and I thought ohh, cute Misha,,,
    and then few second later, Yuzu was smelling his gold medal!!!
    That’s made me laugh so much, only Yuzu will do that! I love this guy!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • sportymags
      October 10, 2016

      Thank you for stopping by and reading my blog!! Check out Sportymags on facebook, I posted a gif I made from my video of a very cute moment between Yuzu and Misha!

      Like

  5. Kwok Kwan Yow
    October 11, 2016

    II am not crazy about Prince and the music does not have the rise and fall to complement Yuzuru’s beautiful jumps and expression. All I can say is that I miss Yuzuru skating to Seimei and Chopin. I can never get enough of watching these 2 programs even after a thousand times! Not crazy about his white pants either! Despite this, still crazy about Yuzuru though!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Piper
    October 11, 2016

    A nice read!!!

    I love Yuzuru’s new programs. It isn’t perfect and not at that “Yuzuru level” yet but I’m confident he can pull both off. As fo the sp, I feel like Yuzuru needs more speed to blend with the music but besides that I see the potential of the program.

    For the LP his moves were gentle, like a soft breeze then going turbulent like waves when the music cut changes. It’s so different from the powerful SEIMEI, that I can’t wait to see it develop further. And the jumping passes are well placed that I didn’t notice him jumping so much (this is actually one of what I appreciate in Yuzuru’s programs). Yuzuru is really a force to be reckoned with. Cheers to him and another wonderful season! XD

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Nina
    October 16, 2016

    Thank you for your report and comments. I was there at Autumn Classic in Montreal too. I like this event very much, especially after seeing him at World in Boston, then the whole summer from April until September worrying about his foot injury. To see him skate again and looking happy and healthy is what we all hope for. I like both programs, even if I don’t like the music very much. The music of his FP is too soft, too slow for my ears, I prefer more dramatic or more rhythmic. But I understand that being from Japan, he prefers to skate to this Japanese music more than classical musics like Chopin, or POTO or Notre Dame de Paris. I was surprised too not seeing Mr Kikuchi carrying his luggage and stuffs for him at the board, also not seeing his regular big bodyguard.
    We Canadians are very lucky to have the chances to see Yuzuru skating in our hometown, in Montreal and later this month in Skate Canada in Mississauga.
    Thank you

    Liked by 1 person

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This entry was posted on October 4, 2016 by in Figure Skating and tagged .
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