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!
It’s the end of the figure skating season and time to sit back and take a look at what has happened over the course of the last couple of seasons.
Significant changes in the direction of a sport usually evolve over time. However, a new era in mens figure skating, the “quad mania era” has now evolved within a single four year Olympic cycle. Yes, quads have been landed since 1988 (Kurt Browning) but since then the mens field has toyed with quads and having a single quad has over time (1990’s 2000’s), slowly progressed to being a baseline requirement for competitive mens skating.
Not too long ago in 2010, at the Vancouver Olympics, Evan Lysacek won the gold medal without a quad. While Evgeny Plushenko was clearly disappointed and voiced his displeasure about this, by the time the 2014 Olympics in Sochi rolled around, the men were doing multiple types of quads consistently. At a minimum, the 2014 podium men were doing a quad in their short programs and 2 or 3 quads in their long programs. Plushy was very happy about this.
Flash forward again to the upcoming 2018 Olympics and we expect that the eventual gold medal winner will have at least 7 planned quads over 2 programs. Some call it progress and then there are those that are worried about the sport being changed into a pure jumping competition. I’m not going to debate whether or not less or more quads is better because it is a personal preference. Does the artistic side of skating lose when more quads are added? Sure, and some skaters have openly voiced that same concern. But then you will also have those that complain that skating is not a true sport because of the artistic nature and the subjective judging. These types of people might enjoy the move to a more pure jumping competition. You can’t please everyone, so for me, I just enjoy skating the way that I do, and admire the skaters that I admire.
Yuzu is one of the few skaters that has the ability to excel in both areas (technical and artistically). Yuzu has routinely and recently said that while he is increasing the technical difficultly of his programs, he wants to keep an eye on the artistic side and make sure that neither suffers. Yuzu has great intentions and even while we suffer through his yearly early season struggles, when he cannot put together a clean program, there are those times when he gives us evidence of his pure brilliance and continues to break his own world records. In those moments of jubilation, we forget about the blood, sweat and tears it took to get there. Those moments leave sports commentators, the coaches, the judges, other skaters, and the fans stunned and speechless.
I must continue to give credit to Yuzu’s choreographers (Jeff and Shae-Lyne) because they have been the masterminds behind those world record breaking programs and understood Yuzu and his dreams and visions for his skating. Both Jeff and Shae-Lyne have a special connection to Yuzu, and know how to incorporate and weave Yuzu’s desired technical content into an intricate story that Yuzu can show us through his expressions on the ice. I pray to the skating gods that Yuzu stays with both of them for this upcoming Olympic seasons’ programs.
For this post, I wanted to summarize the current Yuzu Era in points; the 100 point, the 200 point, and the 300 point plateaus.
Since Yuzu broke these barriers, they are aptly named by me as the “Yuzu Point Eras“. These point barriers have stood for a long time, and are milestones that have taken a long time to overcome. Now they serve more as goals for skaters and no longer appear to be unreachable. Yuzu has changed the way we think about the point barriers. We now think of them as not “if” they can be achieved/broken, but “when”.
All stats listed below are as of the end of 2016-2017 season. The points I have included in my lists are from ISU sanctioned events only.
Yuzu: 100 Point Plateau
In only 2 short seasons, the Short Program record books have been re-written. Here is a link to a post I wrote in April 2015 (at the end of 2014/2015 season) of the top 6 scores in the SP!! At that time, Yuzu was the only skater to eclipse the 100 point mark.
Now take a look at how many +100 point short programs have made the list in the last 2 seasons. As of the end of the 2016-2017 season, here are the 100 point programs. Even though there are a lot of scores in the +100 list now, it still remains a very special milestone for each skater that is able to achieve it.
|110.95||Yuzuru Hanyu||2015 Grand Prix Final||WR|
|110.56||Yuzuru Hanyu||2016 World Championships|
|109.05||Javier Fernandez||2017 World Championships|
|106.53||Yuzuru Hanyu||2016 Grand Prix Final|
|106.33||Yuzuru Hanyu||2015 NHK Trophy||WR|
|105.74||Shoma Uno||2016 Team Challenge Cup|
|104.86||Shoma Uno||2017 World Championships|
|104.25||Javier Fernandez||2017 European Championships|
|103.89||Yuzuru Hanyu||2016 NHK Trophy|
|103.53||Shoma Uno||2017 World Team Trophy|
|103.12||Nathan Chen||2017 Four Continents Championships|
|102.54||Javier Fernandez||2016 European Championships|
|102.13||Patrick Chan||2017 World Championships|
|101.45||Yuzuru Hanyu||2014 Olympics||WR|
|100.28||Shoma Uno||2017 Four Continents Championships|
Yuzu: 200 Point Plateau
When Yuzu became the first skater to brake the 200 point barrier at the 2015 NHK Trophy, he didn’t just hit the 200 mark, he destroyed it. As soon as the “quad-mania” era started, the 200 barrier really didn’t stand a chance, although it is worth a mention that Yuzu broke this barrier prior to the start of this new quad mania. Here is a look at all of the times that the 200 point barrier has been broken in the last 2 seasons.
|223.20||Yuzuru Hanyu||2017 World Championships||WR|
|219.48||Yuzuru Hanyu||2015 Grand Prix Final||WR|
|216.41||Javier Fernandez||2016 World Championships|
|216.07||Yuzuru Hanyu||2015 NHK Trophy||WR|
|214.45||Shoma Uno||2017 World Championships|
|206.67||Yuzuru Hanyu||2017 Four Continents Championships|
|204.94||Boyang Jin||2017 World Championships|
|204.34||Nathan Chen||2017 Four Continents Championships|
|203.99||Patrick Chan||2016 Four Continents Championships|
|201.43||Javier Fernandez||2016 Rostelecom Cup|
|201.43||Javier Fernandez||2015 Grand Prix Final|
|200.49||Yuzuru Hanyu||2017 World Team Trophy|
|200.23||Javier Fernandez||2016 European Championships|
Yuzu: 300 Point Plateau
Naturally, when the 100 and 200 point barriers were broken, we knew the 300 point barrier was going to fall pretty quickly. Since the 200 point barrier was shattered by Yuzu, it stood to reason that the 300 point barrier wasn’t going to be just reached, it was annihilated (2015 NHK Trophy).
To grasp how far the sport has truly tilted since 2014, prior to the 2016/2017 season, could we ever have imagined a world in figure skating where a skater scores over 300 combined total points in an event and doesn’t even make the podium? Well, it happened at the 2017 World Championships in Helsinki to Javier Fernandez.
What does this knowledge do to an upcoming young skater? Cue the 12 and 13 year old quad jumping beans that are already trying and succeeding at landing multiple types of quads. So, then the next question would be “how long is this sustainable”? No one knows the answer to this question.
|330.43||Yuzuru Hanyu||2015 Grand Prix Final||WR|
|322.40||Yuzuru Hanyu||2015 NHK Trophy||WR|
|321.59||Yuzuru Hanyu||2017 World Championships|
|319.31||Shoma Uno||2017 World Championships|
|314.93||Javi Fernandez||2016 World Championships|
|307.46||Nathan Chen||2017 Four Continents Championships|
|303.71||Yuzuru Hanyu||2017 Four Continents Championships|
|303.58||Boyang Jin||2017 World Championships|
|302.77||Javier Fernandez||2016 European Championships|
|301.47||Yuzuru Hanyu||2016 NHK Trophy|
|301.19||Javier Fernandez||2017 World Championships|
We will soon be entering the Olympic season. The 2017/2018 season will be a unique season, not only because it is an Olympic season but it is the last season before a couple of key rule changes come into effect.
Rule change #292: Starting in 2018-2019, reduce the number of both junior and senior men’s jumping passes in the free skate from 8 to 7
Rule change #278: Starting in 2018-2019, increase GOE range from ± 1-3 to ± 1-5.
My dream is for Yuzu’s world records to stand forever. With the new rule changes it is impossible to know how the scores will be affected. Initially when I read that the number of jumping passes would be reduced, I thought that my dream of Yuzu’s records standing forever would come true. But, then you factor in the change of GOE range from 3 to 5, and the way the judges hand out GOE bonuses like it’s free candy sometimes, it scares me to think of what type of inflated scores might come along in the future and challenge Yuzu’s records. For this reason (and many others) I hope Yuzu continues to compete a couple more seasons after the Olympics to see how his scores would change with the new rules.
We won’t know what the true impact of removing a jumping pass will be until after the Olympic season. Will skaters just start eliminating the lowest base value jumps in order to maximize points on the reduced number of jumping passes? Will there be more emphasis on cleaner programs vs just maximizing point value layouts? What kinds of strategies will we see from the skaters? Do younger skaters start trying quad flips and lutzes first instead of quad toes and salchows because they are worth more in base value points? So many potential questions, and so few answers.
One thing we do know for sure. The upwards trajectory of the volume of quad jumps (and further into quad axel and quints) cannot possibly continue to rise forever and ever. It’s only May 2017 and I’m nervous already.
Go Yuzu Go!!! Doki Doki!!
Sources of data:
Wikipedia and ISU protocal sheets for all skaters listed above.