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: Worlds Without You

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.

Mens Event: 

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!!

IMG_2683

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!

IMG_2793

Photo credit:  written on photo (I don’t have the correct keyboard to write the name again here)

Pairs Event:

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 Event:

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!!

 

Women’s Event:

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.

Stephan.png

 

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.

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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??  

  • Yuzu – owns the most beautiful 3A in the sport, and has the most realistic chance of landing one in competition.
  • Max – not sure if he is going to retire or not but has already attempted quad axels in harness at practice.
  • Keegan – has indicated that he wants to try this jump.  This makes me nervous as I find him a bit of out control sometimes.
  • Nathan – according to Raf, Nathan will be trying the quad axel as well, however, according to Nathan’s at once of this seasons’ press conferences, he does not plan to do this.  Pipe dream Raf??

 

Go Yuzu Go!!!  Doki Doki!!

doki-doki

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10 comments on “Yuzuru Hanyu: Worlds Without You

  1. kit szeto
    March 31, 2018

    Thank you for your update to the 2018 World championship event. I watched figure skating again because of last years Skate Canada and I love both Yuzuru and Shoma’s skating but I can never finished watching the other top ranking skaters’ programs like those skaters are famous for their jumps. I think skating is not jumps only; it’s a sport that is full of beauty and power. That’s why the scoring system comply of two parts – technical score and presentation. As you said someone can earn big marks but you cannot recall any of his program that said a lot.

    K

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pam
    April 1, 2018

    Thanks for your wonderful blog, I always enjoy it! Like you I went to Worlds knowing Yuzu wasn’t there, and like you I noticed the absence of anxiety!! (What we go through for Yuzu eh?!) Kazuki was a star! I was glad Shoma got silver, and I LOVED Mikhail’s skating especially at the gala! Nathan – I do not remember any of his programme at all 😬 if that is the way men’s singles event is going I will not be paying to watch it live once Yuzu has retired! But I loved the Ice Dance and the gala was fun, even without Yuzu’s big personality! Roll on next season eh!! (I am lucky enough to have tickets for Yuzu’s Continues with Wings on 13th April … such a shame he can’t perform but it will be great to see him with all of his heroes and contemporaries – I hope Javi will be there seeing Yuzu names him as one of his main influences) Keep up the fab work!!

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Henni147
    April 1, 2018

    6 individual spots for team Japan at home in Saitama!! Never expected that to happen after Yuzu being absent, Shoma injured and that strong ladies’ field.
    Kazuki and Wakaba really rocked these world championships! My absolute highlights besides Kaetlyn, Aljona and Bruno, Vanessa and Morgan 😍😊

    I was paralyzed after Boyang’s free, too. He didn’t deserve a devastating result like that.
    Shoma… I really had to smile when I saw the final result. He can do a brilliant skate or totally mess up, it doesn’t matter. Shoma Uno (or Due?) always ends up exactly in second place… 🙈🙈🙈 To be fair: it wasn’t his best free, but he fought like a champion from start to finish. The last two minutes were absolutely brilliant.

    Nathan… I felt a bit salty about his freeskate score. He earned only 0.02 points less than Yuzu 2015 in Barcelona – with six quads and no other notable highlights. Without the 3-quad-barrier I don’t think that the modifications in the scoring system will cause any significant changes. The base values won’t be decreased by more than 2-3 points and I don’t think that Nathan will receive 1 of 5 GOE for a clean quad. So if he continues with his 6-quad-layouts, Yuzu has to be foot perfect to beat him.

    4A: I’ll take a bath in cream tea, if Nathan lands a 4A. His 3A is still shaky and I don’t see the quality to add an extra rotation.
    There are some contenders for the 4A debut, but I really wish that Yuzu nails it first. Yuzu is not only jumping, he’s jumping with top quality and the quadruple axel deserves a textbook execution with back counter entrance, top height, length, speed, air position, landing and so on 🤗🤗

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Yasmin-k
    April 5, 2018

    Dear SportyMag san, I am a big fan of your blog, always enjoy reading your updates.

    The Worlds…competitions minus Yuzu will never be the same. For the competitors, for the fans, and for myself. I did not watch it LIVE on my PC, just read the result in the paper and checked Kazuki and Boyang on Youtube. Kazuki stole the show…. I totally agree with you,

    As for Shoma’s “injury”,it was announced ” blister” and he did not take the pain killer (Shoma himself told to the media ) Just after a week he appeared in the ice show, there seems no problem for his condition now.
    The best thing for me was to find new, confident Wakaba.She was so focused.( and the best costume this time. Not too much jewellery )

    It’s almost two months since the Olympics but there are so many new books and magazines comming out every day. And of course, there must be Yuzu on the covers. 20.000 T-shirt to commemorate victory parade were sold out within a day.
    ( I call it Yuzu-nomics )
    But Yuzu, now in Toronto, must be working hard for his rehabilitation.
    There’s something in common between Yuzu and Shohei Otani.
    They are taking their sports to a new level.

    It is wonderful to wait and watch the first 4A in the world…landed by Yuzu.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Sabrina127
      May 24, 2018

      I’m so disappointed that ppl compare Uno’s “injury” to Yuzu’s. This makes me really sad, I kind of feel that it tainted Yuzu’s Olympic gold medal… 😥 😥 😥 😥 Dear author, do you know that because of the drama Uno made, Yuzu was falsely accused of faking his injury and letting “poor Uno” to “fight alone” for Japan’s 3 places in the coming World Championship. Turn out that the so-called serious injury was only a blister on his foot. :(:(:(:(

      And ironically, just a few days after the WC, Uno was happily jumping Quads in the ice show (end of March), on the other hand Yuzu couldn’t even jump in his own ice show (end of April). It makes me really sad that Yuzu has to suffer all the shit, especially in his own country.

      Please, please, could people stop comparing Uno to Yuzu? Their fighting spirit is nothing comparable. Yuzu chose not to reveal anything about his injury before the competition while Uno made such a drama and let everybody really thinks what serious injury he has, in fact it was just a blister! As I’m typing this I couldn’t hold back my tears thinking about last year’s NHK, the 3 months without any news of yuzu, the olympic game….

      I really don’t understand how Uno can fool so many ppl, especially yuzu’s fans. We would have known what a serious injury would look like, because we went through the 3 agony months with Yuzu, didn’t we? The only reason I could think of is that most Yuzu’s fans are really good and kind people (unlike me) and are willing to give Uno the benefit of doubt.

      I’m really sorry if what I said offended you because you seem to like Uno a lot too. But I’m quite sure I did not make a personal attack nor did I make any abusive comment, i’m just telling the truth. I hope you won’t feel insulted 😦 It just got to me because we were busy fighting the “antis” on twitter and the chinese website over the “fake injury” for the past weeks. It was horrible if you have seen all the things they said.

      Meanwhile, I’m patiently waiting for yuzu’s 4A. No matter who’s gonna be the first one to do it (I sincerely hope that it’s yuzu), yuzu’s 4A is going to be the biggest and the most magnificent jump that we have ever seen.

      Liked by 2 people

      • sportymags
        May 24, 2018

        Hi there. I must admit I am a bit confused. Since I do not read any Japanese, I only write about what I saw personally or have read through translations. Yuzu is my favorite skater with no doubt at all. I think Shoma is just funny with his quirkiness but he is not my favorite skater.

        I do not have any first hand knowledge if Shoma was faking an injury or not so I would never say anything about that.

        I honestly had no idea that other people were saying Yuzu faked his injury or whatever either. I have never seen anything written about that?? That is why I am confused with your comments here?

        As a former athlete I know how it feels to have injuries and they are no joke. Don’t worry, I have never been offended by any of your commens, and I appreciate you writing them but I am not sure what I wrote to make you feel what you wrote.

        I am super happy to have Yuzu back this season, and like you said, it will be historic and epic when he lands that first quad axel!!!!

        Liked by 2 people

  5. Sabrina127
    May 25, 2018

    Dear author, I’m very sorry if I’ve made you confused. I admit that I dislike Uno a lot mainly because of his techniques and how his team always manipulates the Japanese media to his advantage, but I would never do horrible things like throwing curses, spreading rumours and hurling abusive comments etc at him. This is what yuzu antis do. FYI, the antis in Japan deliberately tweeted with the hastag #羽生結弦 so that yuzu would see all the horrible things they wrote on twitter.

    When I found out that Uno was just having a blister on his foot and was perfectly fit for the ice shows, I just rolled my eyes and that’s all, I did not say that he is faking his injury either.

    Anyway, I’m sorry for being so emotional, thank you for being understanding 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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This entry was posted on March 31, 2018 by in Figure Skating and tagged .
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