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!
Once Yuzu had to announce his withdrawal from the Grand Prix Final, my brain immediately went into relaxed mode. Sure, it was a HUGE disappointment for me, and even more so when I saw the view from our Row 1 seats which I whined about each day (ha ha) but I was also much more relaxed about the trip. I wasn’t worried about my flight not getting there on time, I wasn’t worried about having to show up at a crazy hour of the morning to get a seat (even though they were assigned seats for the event and practice), you know, the normal Yuzu event things people have to worry about.
Since I love the sport and not just a specific single skater, I knew I would still enjoy the event and I was sure that it would hold many incredible moments, and shocking moments, just like Worlds in Milan.
Starting off with my thoughts on the juniors. I was really excited for the chance to see the depth of the Russian junior women and to see if Trusova was everything she was advertised to be. She did not disappoint!! Trusova is all about technical prowess and well, she’s about 50 lbs soaking wet. Albeit she’s got pretty muscular legs for her size, I didn’t find her to be overly fast, but she sure is spunky! She has speed, but not powerful speed like I saw with Radionova when she was smaller. I also wondered how it is that she gets all of that long hair into that tight little bun on her head!! That’s impressive!!
Surprising me at this event was Alena Kostornaia! I had only heard bits and pieces about her but had never watched any of her programs. Her double axel was right in front of me, and wow, it’s impressive!!! The height, the distance covered and the flow out of Kostornaia’s 2A is really stunning! The natural ease she has with the double axel is very comparable to Yuzu’s axel. I have no doubt she will have a triple axel soon as she is already working on it. The choreography of both her programs were excellent for her and she was a very unexpected but exciting surprise for me. Tack her on the list of skaters that I will follow more closely. I did not have this reaction when I saw Zagitova win JGPF in Marseilles.
One thing I did notice about the junior girls, more specifically about the 5 Russian girls. Not one of them had a water bottle at any of the practices, lots of special tissue cases, but no water bottles. Unless they were hidden behind the boards and I never managed to see anyone take one sip of water the entire 4 days I was there.
Junior men. I was happy to see Koshiro but super surprised to see how tall and lanky he was! And of course, seeing Joubert and Lambiel both at the side of the boards was kinda cool! At least Joubert got to carry cookie monster!!
I guess if you are a coach and your name is Brian, you are destined to have to carry stuffie Kleenex boxes for your students! My attention during practices was primarily focused on Gogolev. He’s pretty small and I would expect a growth spurt coming for him but I hope it’s a nice slow one so that he doesn’t go through all the challenges growth spurts present to skaters. Gogolev changing his official primary coach prior to this event was a bit of a shocker but hopefully this is temporary until Brian has more time for him personally. This kid is super talented, and I am super happy that he is skating for Canada so that we know we have something fantastic coming down the mens pipeline. I’m sure the team at TCC will manage his development properly.
The best parts of the junior mens awards ceremonies for me was watching Gogolev trying to get onto the top step of the podium, that was a really tall step!! During the victory ceremony, I got to high five Petr Gumennik. Can I just say that I have never felt a hand so soft before in my life!! I mean, he’s still a kid but gee, nice hands!
Fun fact from: Massimiliano Ambesi
The Canadian Stephen Gogolev, aged 13 years and 351 days, became the youngest skater to win a Junior Grand Prix final. The previous record in men field belonged to Yuzu (14 years and 362 days). Gogolev and Hanyu won the Junior Grand Prix Final in their native country.
Onto the senior women. Things that stand out in my mind. Zagitova’s cheeky smile when she bobbled the entry into her final spin. One thought about Zagitova that struck me when we saw her in full costume and makeup was that with her hair pulled back tight and slicked, and the dark makeup and bright red lips, she reminded me of the girls that are in Robert Palmer’s Addicted to Love music video!! Just a stunning look.
The arrival of Rika Kihara wasn’t a huge surprise to anyone but she did usher in a new technical norm in the women’s event. Hopefully the craze that is the Japanese media won’t eat her alive and put too much pressure on her.
And finally, my personal highlights on the mens event. Did I mention how bummed I was that Yuzu wasn’t there? Ya. Because of this I didn’t bring my camera to the event. My hands were empty so I decided I wanted to join in on the stuffie craze. I went and bought 4 emoticons. Top left went to Shoma, top right went to Jun, bottom left went to Gogolev and bottom right went to Nathan.
My first thought was that I was going to be able to watch all of the guys practice since normally, I am focused on Yuzu only. However, what tended to happen with me, was that my eyes were drawn to the shiniest new toy (Jun). I tried to focus on Shoma a bit but I found that he simply didn’t stand out during the practices. My eyes kept wandering around and ended up watching a lot of Jun and Nathan. During Jun’s long program run through, I was looking forward to the fans screaming “Juunnnliettttt” at the appropriate time in the music, but I didn’t hear it this time (like I did in Helsinki). I did say it aloud myself but oh well, maybe it will happen again at 4CC if he goes.
Of course it was also Yuzu’s birthday during the GPF and the big thing this year was to bake a cake and post it for Yuzu. Well, since we were in a hotel, we didn’t have that option so my friend and I tried something else. We ordered room service and I posted a video of the delivery on my twitter account. It was fun to do something. The room service guy was such a good sport!! He said it was fine to post this video on social media.
We got to see a new reveal in the FP practice, Jun’s new costume. Yet, when it came time to the event, we didn’t get to see it. Jun reverted back to his purple top. During the press conference afterwards, not one reporter asked about it. Later on, we found out from Brian that Jun decided that it didn’t fit and feel quite right. Another small thing that stands out in my mind after Jun completed his free program and was headed to the kiss and cry. The fans all waited before throwing their gifts in our corner since they wanted to see if he would pick up their gift. As he got closer, the fans barraged the corner with stuffies and flowers and the reaction on Jun’s face was priceless!! He took a quick look and quickly zeroed in on the one Soorang stuffie was that dressed like him!! Good choice!! A fan captured the moment.
You know, I always talk about the way Yuzu’s stroking style is so smooth and his hips have a swag all onto itself, well, after watching Jun, I noticed that he has a unique bouncy type of cross overs when stroking around a corner, his own unique style.
As much as Shoma seemed to be out of the spotlight during the event, he was back to his normal sleepy goofy self during the medal ceremony and gala. Looking totally lost on the podium without Yuzu to guide him through, and looking to Nathan for the lead, we saw Shoma posing for photos holding his medal backwards (just like he did at Olympics with holding the mascot facing the wrong way). This is just such classic Shoma!! I hope he never changes, it makes him so endearing.
Shoma’s fall during the gala and the subsequent total wipe out when someone tried to help him up, classic!! Then there was the shimmie between Shoma and Kaori. The awkwardness is something to behold and gives everyone a reason to smile. Here are a couple of small clips that fans posted on twitter for you to enjoy these classic Shoma moments.
What a difference 2 years makes for the top 6 men. Granted Yuzu should have been in the photo for 2018, it will be very interesting to see how the top 6 evolves over the next Olympic cycle.
I hope to see you at 4CC Yuzu!! Take care and see you soon!
Go Yuzu Go!!! Doki Doki!!