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!
Returning from my trip to Worlds in Milan, I’ve had time to reflect upon how different the skating world was without Yuzu there. It was like a dress rehearsal of sorts for the future. Of course, having Yuzu there would have made it a perfect event, however, without him, there was still plenty of drama and excitement to enjoy in all of the disciplines.
First of all, I had what was a sense of calmness, a sense of ease going into this event. I wasn’t worried about having to wait in huge lineups, and I wasn’t nervous about anything. I could just relax and enjoy the entire event. This was kinda cool.
I sat across the aisle from this older Japanese lady whom I recognized from many other events. She also recognized me and greeted me happily. She expressed her sadness to me that Yuzu was not there and then continued to cheer loudly for other skaters. I know this person is a huge Yuzu fan as she regularly made Yuzu outfits for Pooh bears which she brought to events. It was so nice to see that she still came to Milan even though Yuzu could not attend, and cheered for many of the other skaters too!!
The first surprise of the mens event was Kazuki Tomono. I had heard of his name before but never watched him skate. During practices and his warm up, his quad salchow was quite shaky and I didn’t think he was going to be able to land it. Kazuki really rose to the occasion in the short program, and even threw us fans a cheeky little grin during his step sequence when he faced us and the crowd went wild!!! Kazuki came in as Yuzu’s replacement and stole the show and was even rewarded with a bronze small medal for the FP! Good for him!! The rest of the short programs were drama free and set up the free program showdown!
The free program portion of the mens event certainly did not disappoint for drama! Kazuki came in and laid down another brilliant performance! That set the stage for the final group!!
I remember thinking that as the final group came on and the guys were all warming up, that this was a serious high fliers group. During the 6 minute warmup, Shoma’s name was announced just as he took a fall on a quad jump. It looked like he was going to do a butt spin for fun, but then didn’t. The timing was impeccable. Without Yuzu there, I wasn’t sure who to focus on when watching the warm up, there were so many talented skaters out there. So my head just went back and forth watching a quad attempt every 2 or 3 seconds apart. It was unique for me in the sense that I usually just focus on watching Yuzu and don’t have to have A.D.D. to watch 6 different skaters all over the place. Finally I had a chance to watch the others skaters (non-Yuzu) during warm ups!
Well who knew what was going to unfold. No one would have predicted the results and the severe shift in the standings! If I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes, I don’t know if I would have believed it!
I haven’t watched any videos again, but I think Boyangs’ meltdown (4th in SP, 23rd in FS and 19th overall) was a bit more shocking than that of Vincent Zhou’s (3rd in SP, 19th in FS and 14th overall). I don’t recall ever seeing 2 of the top 6 ranked skaters having such a dramatic free fall in the standings.
There were no words to describe the experience watching it live. You know what you saw with your own eyes, yet no words can come out of your open, gaping mouth. You could hear the crowd sucking in their breathe with every missed attempt. By the end of Boyangs performance, the audience was simply too stunned to know what to do. I don’t remember even clapping while he bowed (although I’m sure I did), it was such a confusing moment.
I really wanted Boyang to win this Worlds, but it just wasn’t meant to be. I was told that a fan sitting close to the Kiss and Cry gave this to Boyang. What an brilliant stuffie!! The Mini Darth Vader was the most adorable thing in the Kiss and Cry and was enough for us to momentarily forget the dismal performance!!
Then we also had drama around Shomas’ ankle. Was he injured or not? Reports of his team having to carry him to the car after practice (and to the hospital for xrays) did not bode well for Shoma. But, just like Yuzu, they shot him full of painkillers, and Shoma was out there fighting for every point he could muster!! You could see it on his face, the power of determination, fighting for every inch, and the relief on his face when he was done! Shoma asking his coach if they got the 3 spots back while sitting in the Kiss and Cry just showed that while we see this sleepy, absent-minded kid, he knows his job and understands what people expect of him. He is coming into his own.
Nathan’s performance was ok for me and he did plenty enough to deserve to win the World title at this event. It was kind of a “yeah whatever” moment for me because we knew he had won the event before he even skated really. With the current scoring system, the marks for his quad attempts alone would be “enough” to win the title. I wouldn’t call it a great performance (I think his scores were a bit inflated). I say this because all I can remember are the jumps. I cannot recall any other part of his performance. But, I’m happy Nathan did well, and got his title. I still want to see Yuzu and Nathan go head to head with both skaters being perfect at the same time!
Kazuki not only replaced Yuzu’s spot on the ice but took over his responsibilities to help cake care of Shoma too. Here is he fixing Shoma’s collar before the FP small medal ceremony. Priceless!
Photo credit: written on photo (I don’t have the correct keyboard to write the name again here)
Having Sui/Han there would have make this event perfect, however, we still got to see Aliona and Bruno which was really the highlight of the pairs event. Was it a farewell skate?? If it was, I am so happy to have seen it live. I didn’t think the emotional skate of their free program at Olympics could be topped, yet this was right up there!! It was a truly stunning performance! Their gala number was also absolutely brilliant, I loved it.
The Chinese pairs have to go home and take a look at improving their individual jump skills. They really missed Sui/Han. Morgan and Vanessa finally make the podium, yay!!
Dance is not my favorite event, and now that Virtue/Moir are not there, I really have to make an effort to watch dance. I tried to figure out why the judges like Papadakis/Cizeron so much. Aside from having some extra speed when doing the required elements compared to the rest of the field, I actually enjoyed other dance programs much more than theirs.
I am happy for Weaver/Poje on their podium finish!! Way to stick with it, and congrats!!
Nothing too shocking after the short programs. Everything was going as expected except I definitely did not agree with Kostner being in first place after the short.
Alas, there was more drama to be had when the free program portion of the womens event started! Everyone in the house had tears in their eyes as Wakaba finished her program and was taking her bows at center ice. Here is a photo I took of Stephan Lambiel (who was sitting in the row behind me), who was also very moved by Wakaba’s performance.
As we watched the replays on the jumbotron, one moment I will never forget was the slow motion of the giant tear that fell from Wakaba’s eye when she bent forward as she was leaving center ice. What a beautiful moment!!
The Worlds drama continued as we then saw the complete failure to launch that was Zagitova. Everyone was expecting the regular perfection we had come to expect from this 15 year old. In earlier practices, I have a short clip of her 4 jump combo. I should have known something was off when she didn’t do the 5 jump combo!!! Was it pressure, was it the growth spurt, was it exhaustion? Whatever it was, it was heart breaking to see Zagitova break down in tears as she left the ice. During her 3rd fall of the program, I quickly looked over to Eteri, who at that moment chose to turn around and stop watching. That was a sad moment for me, as the rumors of Eteri not liking Zagitova as much as her other skaters raced through my mind.
The craziest moment of the women’s event was the medal ceremony. I was thrilled that Kaitlin won the event, and continued to be full of grace as she tripped over an unseen carpet on the ice. Thank goodness she was not injured. Gracefully falling and wrapping herself in the Canadian flag, it was one of those moments I’m sure she will never forget.
Photo credit: @axelsandwich who captured this priceless moment.
The carpet illustrates how dangerous any object on the ice is for the skaters. All week, many of us were worried about the silly confetti pieces of tissue paper that were falling on the ice from the rafters. We didn’t know what/where they were from. However, that question was answered at the end of the gala!! The organizers must have done a dress rehearsal and shot off the confetti canyons prior to the event starting to test them. While organizers think this was a cool idea, the skaters safety should have been taking into account. At least the flower kids were quite efficient at finding and picking up these pieces of ribbon on the ice throughout the event but there has to be a better solution!
The best moment of Worlds for me was on my trip home. At Malpensa airport, they have a weird boarding process, however, because of it, I found myself standing next to Kaitlyn in an unusual waiting area. I congratulated her on her win, told her where I was from (in Canada), and we quickly got to chatting about a bunch of different things. She gave me insight into what it was like being moved into the different holding areas before the closing ceremonies of the Olympics (kind of like the scenario we were currently in), and why she didn’t attend opening ceremonies. We talked about her upcoming ice shows and her plans to at stay competitive at least until Montreal Worlds, yay!! So, Canadian womens skating is safe for the next couple of years! After that, she said it remains to be seen. And, we even got to chat a bit about NHL Hockey. It was all a bit surreal to me, talking to the newly crowned World Champion, but she was so easy to chat with, so friendly and down to earth. She is living my dream!!
When we landed in Frankfurt, there was one guy who had a Porsche Panamera pick him up on the tarmac. Apparently, if you gather up 300K in points in one year (all from business class), then this is one of your benefits. Kinda cool but I have no desire to be on airplanes that much! He didn’t have to board the stuffy bus to the terminal. I’m thinking that ANA should have this service for Yuzu!
So, some closing thoughts on the 2018 Worlds.
We survived without Yuzu. Was it the best event without him, no. But, it was still exciting to watch everything unfold. New storylines started emerging, and with the new rule changes coming out for next season, it’s a whole new ballgame for the next quad.
Speaking of the new rules, even if the ISU does not do this, in my mind, the current World Records should be sealed and stand for all time (as the records for the current scoring system). Any new world records obtained with the new scoring system should be listed as a *new* separate list because of the scoring system changes. It’s not fair to compare records of 2 different scoring systems, especially when this sport is so subjective.
Nathan’s relatively clean program with 6 quads still does not beat a Yuzu 3 quad World Record. This says a lot! As much as the figure skating judging is sometimes suspect, I thank the skating gods for recognizing overall quality programs and having Yuzu’s records stand throughout this season.
Who is now working on quad axel??
Go Yuzu Go!!! Doki Doki!!