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!
Anyone who knows me knows that I am 100% behind Yuzu all the way!! This past weekend it was both Canadian and US Nationals. So amidst my crazy hockey schedule, I made time to watch Patrick Chan win his record tying 9th National Championship. Congratulations Patrick!!
Then the next day, the US Nationals men’s final was on so I thought I would take a peek at what Nathan was up to. Well, he was up to 7 quads, thats what he was up to!!
The first 2 quads in Nathan’s SP weren’t that out of the ordinary these days, but the last 5 were! Wow, it was a bit of a head shaker! Not 4 but 5 quads landed solidly by Nathan in his free program. The most impressive part was that even if you aren’t a Nathan Chen fan, you have to appreciate what he just accomplished. He threw in the fifth quad just for fun. Nathan said in a post-skate interview that he was going to see how he felt that week in practice and decide last minute whether or not to put the 5th quad in. Well, not too many skaters can just throw in an extra quad near the end of their program just because they are feeling good, I know only ONE other skater that would even think of doing that (ahem, Yuzu).
The USA news outlets are having a field day this week!!! Nathan is almost getting more press than the Green Bay Packers got after their semi-final loss they suffered on the same day as Nathan’s skate, and ended their run to the Superbowl. In the USA, thats saying a lot!!
When talking about Nathan, it’s all about his jumps right now. But, Nathan knows where his weaknesses are and you better be sure that he is working hard at trying to improve those PCS marks as well!! We saw Nathan jump (figuratively speaking) onto the podium at Grand Prix Final and he has now announced that he is a serious contender for the podium for Worlds and Olympics, regardless of his PCS scores.
Why do I say regardless of PCS?? Without going into the analytical abyss, Nathan’s base value starting point is high enough that even without super high PCS marks, if the other skaters falter in any way, with this current judging system that awards “attempts” that are fully rotated, he can still win an event even if he falls 2 or 3 times on those 5 quads. So long as he is fully rotated, his TES is going to be high. Granted this was a Nationals event so the actual scoring was probably a bit inflated, but you cannot ignore what he did.
Now, I am not jumping the gun and saying Nathan will win Worlds or Olympics. I am not saying that at all. But there is a new kid in town and he just proved that he is getting more consistent and that he is not a fluke. Nathan has layed down a gauntlet that would be quite intimidating to the average skater. Thank goodness Yuzu is not an average skater.
We saw Boyang and Nathan coming out of the gates last season with 4Lz, 4S and 4T jumps, but it quickly went from 2-3 different quads to 4-5 different quads in a hurry this season. It is not realistic to say that Nathan or anyone else will be able to repeat this 5 quad feat every time they step on the ice. But now suddenly all of the quad barriers have been broken, except for 4A. Heck, even Max Aaron joked and said he thought about trying a 4A in the competition just for fun, who knows, maybe he was serious. He had nothing to lose. What crazy times we are witnessing. Could anyone have predicted that this would all happen so quickly??
No longer is the “play it safe” mentality going to get you anywhere in the mens event. Can a skater still win with only 1 type of quad? Sure, I suppose anything can happen. Can skaters win with only 2 types of quads? Perhaps, depending on the event. There is no magic number, the only thing we know is that the men need more than one type of quad to be in the competitive game. Javi is not changing his layout at all this season, I wonder if he might get left behind.
It is very easy to get caught up solely on the number of quads guys are doing. The difference between doing 3 or 4 quads in the LP, or 4 or 5 quads in a LP only matters if all other things are equal. There are so many things to consider, like GOE, PCS and all the little things that make up the total package. However, we are having these discussions now and there isn’t really any end to the debate. That’s what makes this sport fun, exiting, and frustrating all at the same time.
Imagine what the young skaters are now thinking that they need to do in order to be competitive going forward?? Luckily, Canada has quad wonder kid Stephen Gogolev waiting in the wings.
Yuzu vs Nathan
The first thing I have to say is that it’s funny how no one in the US media is talking about the reigning 2 time World champion, Javi. In all of the articles I read yesterday, I also only saw a reference to Yuzu once. However, US skating has a shiny new toy (Nathan) and the US Olympic hype machine now has the perfect poster boy. The NBC Olympic commercials have already started, and a 10 year old Nathan saying he will be in the 2018 Olympics is very cute.
So, what do I think the difference is between Yuzu and Nathan apart from the KEY fact that Yuzu is a more overall, complete skater? First of all, their skating skills and transitions are NOT comparable at this point in time. Between the edge depth and speed at which the footwork and transitions are performed, this is what separates the pretty good skater from the great skater. Let’s not forget that Nathan is young so he will improve over time but for now, there is no comparison. Yuzu is just the gold standard right now. I know I might sound biased towards Yuzu but it only takes seeing one of Yuzu’s practices to know that I am not exaggerating.
When you watch a Yuzu LP program, you will see more than just a jump fest, as Yuzu’s most difficult jumps (quads) are spread out throughout the program, and the programs are very balanced with intricate choreography. The attention to detail of every step, every hand gesture, when Yuzu is not jumping is quite remarkable. This is not the case with Nathan’s current layout as 4 of his 5 quads were in the first half of his LP and there is not a lot of substance in between the jumping passes yet.
So, what is the difference between a “good” athlete, a “great” athlete and someone that is “mind blowing”? I would put Nathan in the “pretty good” athlete category, and put skaters like Patrick in the “great” category. Yuzu would be in the “mind blowing” category for me because he is a special generational talent that will not come along again for quite some time. Yuzu has a definite vision of where he wants to go with his skating and has a sense of foresight for the sport that I haven’t really seen before. Yuzu always seems to be a step ahead in strategic thinking, and his approach is agressive in terms of technical content. He is not shying away from tough challenges. And there is a very special quality about Yuzu that oozes from each movement he makes.
I put Nathan in the “pretty good” category because he is helping push the technical limits of the sport, but one competition does not make you great. I also wonder if Nathan will be another Timothy Geobel who set multiple records with more quads but never was the complete package? Does Nathan have the ability to become the whole package? That is the Olympic gold medal question.
Yuzu has never rested on his titles and expected to continue winning without increasing his technical content. He saw the writing on the wall before anyone wanted to admit it. Because of this, he is keeping up with the quad race, while still maintaining a high level PCS, and holding his position at #1 in the Worlds rankings. As others before him have learned, you cannot rely on a point advantage between you and the other skaters one season, to keep you on the podium the next season.
For Yuzu, Nathan’s recent success is probably the ultimate motivation for him and also reinforces his forward thinking strategy. I take to heart that the last time Yuzu skated brilliantly was when after he saw Boyang skate. I can only assume he has seen the video of Nathan’s recent programs. What I love is that Yuzu doesn’t have knee jerk reactions. Just because Nathan is doing 5 quads doesnt mean Yuzu will change his layout. He plans meticulously every detail towards his goals as we well know.
Yuzu has had multiple clean run throughs lately and has done a 5 quad program with a 4S at the end (for fun). You gotta love his competitive spirit!!! He is not about to be left behind. 5 quads??? No problem, but I know Yuzu knows he doesn’t need it! Yuzu’s got this!!
Edit: Please note: I do not believe Yuzu is changing his program to a 5 quad program. Just simply that he practiced a run through and threw in an extra quad salchow at the end. He also did this extra quad salchow at one of the GPF practices at the end of his program run through, maybe to make up for the 4S combo he popped, and maybe just for practice fun. Here is a video link to GPF practice with 4S at end where he technically attempted 5 quads.
Go Yuzu Go!!! Doki Doki!!