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 finally over. Wait, what?? Already? It seemed like forever waiting for Worlds to happen, the waiting made longer by not seeing Yuzu at Nationals or Grand Prix Final. I chose not to travel to Japan even though I would have been able to get tickets, and I’m ok with that decision because I’m saving up for all the trips next season in hopes to see Yuzu’s quad axel.
So, with the help of the CBC stream, I was able to see all of the events that I wanted, albeit at 2-6am in the morning. Couple that with working full time during the day, let’s just say that this weekend has been about catching up on some much needed sleep. I never once pulled any all nighters during my years in university, yet here I am doing it every season for Yuzu. Crazy priorities I know.
Since the practices were not streamed, and the Japanese events do not allow photos or videos, I don’t have anything to say about practices other than the few photos that the official media released (out of the thousands upon thousands they took) were very nice.
Short Program: Let’s not forget that while Yuzu has said he is 100%, he means that he is 100% of what is possible at this time. He is not fully healed and well, his ankle will never be the same. Ligaments are the worst to rehab. So, anything that Yuzu puts out there is truly a miracle.
Let’s see. A popped quad salchow which netted Yuzu 0 points (invalid element) cost him roughly 12 points, as Brian confirmed. So, that would have put Yuzu roughly in the 107 range (in a virtual tie with Nathan). I don’t usually put a lot of technical analysis in my blog entries because I think that the Japanese media and fans on social media do enough of it. It’s a little “analysis paralysis” to me. Plus, I like my blog to focus on the fun things. I can’t tell you how many times I have gone back and read my old posts and said “oh yeah, I forgot about that!”, such great memories. Programs are always easy to re-watch (albeit harder now that all the youtube videos are being taken down), but the special moments are what I like to document.
The most memorable part of the short program, the best part for me, was the special look that Yuzu gave to Pooh. My heart just did a flutter when he did this, and my mouth dropped open and the audible “awe” sound escaped my lips. Shown here is the official photo and but the stream showed it from the opposite angle so we get the best of both worlds.
One other moment in the short program that grabbed my attention was Shoma’s triple axel. I have never seen such a gorgeous axel from Shoma. My reaction to Shoma’s 3A was the same as Yuzu’s reaction when he heard Shoma’s scores. “Wait, what”??? My stream died for about 5 seconds during the replay of Shoma’s elements, and I almost had heart attack. But, honestly, my first thought was, thank goodness it happened after Yuzu had already skated. Priorities, I know.
The new jump tracker analysis is interesting. I’m not as fascinated by it as some, but it’s pretty cool to see in the replays. I have only one request, perhaps they could show it once instead of 3 times for each skater, and show more time of the skater sitting in the Kiss and Cry? That is what I would enjoy more.
After the short program was all said and done, with the other skaters also making uncharacteristic mistakes, Yuzu still got a small medal with an invalid element. It really seemed to highlight the new scoring system (GOE values) that emphasizes bonus points for quality (a bit more discussion on this further down). So we thought.
I was very happy that the ISU streamed the press conferences as well. This is wonderful content that when they restrict it to the press, we only get one or two sound bites or quotes in the papers (and sometimes out of context) when the athletes usually have said so much more. This accessibility is great for all fans and for the sport! The best part of the press conference for me was after Yuzu complimented Nathan and the translator finished translating his comments, he turned to Nathan and gave him the patented nose wrinkle. You know you have hit the big time when you get one of these personally from Yuzu.
Long Program: The first thing I noticed were the spirals from Kolyada and Morisi! We need to get a couple of these from Yuzu in his long program!!
Some random thoughts:
Yuzu on the ice. Queue the faster heart rate and the tension and anxiety. My favorite part of this program is the double head bob at the start. All Yuzu fans know what this photo is even if they see it out of context.
Well, it wasn’t perfect but it was pretty darn good. Under that kind of pressure, with a wonky ankle, there is no one that could have done better. Yuzu mouthing the word “tadaima = I’m home” at end of his program was touching.
Welcome back 200+ and 300+!!
Nathan had the unenviable position of skating after Yuzu. To skate like he did after hearing Yuzu’s scores took a lot of mental strength.
Not much to say about the medal ceremony other than Vincent looking like he was in total shock on the podium. It was unassuming and innocent. It was funny, he was a bit star struck and this continued in press conference (not that anyone asked him much)!
During the picture time afterwards, Yuzu pulled a Shoma!!! Yuzu is always so careful and meticulous in every little detail about everything. This moment was truly priceless! Yuzu missing Shoma (calling out for him when he was alone taking photos), and this moment really made me smile!!
This moment is the first and probably the last time we will ever see this!! Yuzu is holding his medal backwards, ala Shoma!!! When I saw the video, I wasn’t sure and hoped someone captured it and sure enough with all the press photographers on hand, here it is. On the video, I also saw Yuzu quickly discovering that he made this tiny booboo and he fixed it for the next photo that was taken. Nice little obscure shout out to Shoma! Haha.
Just putting this protocol shot here to record it. I don’t want to go into the whole judging debate other than to say once again that it’s not the scoring system that is faulty. It’s that the judges are making decisions on PCS marks that are purely subjective and not following the rules that govern what the scores (GOE bonuses) are supposed to mean. No amount of screaming online or arguing about it will change it. It sucks but the skaters deal with it, and I will too.
I will say though that if you look at the spirit of the new judging system, it is supposed to reward quality over technical quantity. Before this world championships, earlier in the season, I might have said that it appeared to be sort of working. However, what should have been an obvious PCS advantage for Yuzu has been nullified by subjective scoring. Just because a skater can land a technically difficult jump doesn’t mean that the PCS should increase accordingly. The point system is in place to make a difference, it’s just not being applied correctly. There really should not be only 1 point difference between Nathan and Yuzu in terms of quality of skating skills etc (PCS). That’s just crazy. Enough said.
The impact of the worlds’ results will have more far reaching impacts. Now that Yuzu has seen what the judges are doing (right or wrong), it is now fuelling the fire in him to up the ante and add more technical content. Yuzu was already planning this with the quad axel but to hear him say in 2 different conversations that he will add the quad lutz back and add a quad flip really makes me stand at attention and say “wait, what?”
Yuzu was calm and very committed to his future plan (albeit indicating he will pay very careful attention to possibility of injury). I tend to believe that Yuzu is saying this using the facts that are presented to him (protocol sheets) and not just purely out of the emotion of the current event and results.
Yuzu pointed out that he lost both segments of the competition and therefore lost overall. Even if he had not popped that quad salchow in the short, he still would not have won. So many factors in this, it’s not just cut and dry, especially not for him.
Onto the press conference. Again, thankful they showed this part!
During the opening comments, Vincent made me laugh. He really is not used to these pressers yet. Love the use of the word “friggen”. I heard “fricken” but hey, we all know what he meant! Haha.
Press Conference quote (courtesy of @rockerskating): Zhou: This is the best result that I could possibly hope for. To share the podium with friggin Nathan Chen and Yuzuru Hanyu is absolutely incredible. To be able to compete and perform here in Japan is such an honor.
Press Conference quote (courtesy of @rockerskating): Hanyu: I would definitely like to do a 4A. I promise that I will do it in competition, otherwise there would be no meaning to it. I also need to monitor my injury and figure out what kind of training is needed. I want to do 4A, 4Lz, and 4F.
Awhile ago, Yuzu was asked if he would ever do a full quad program, and he pointed at Gogolev and said that it would be Gogolev to do it. Sounds like he is rethinking that answer.
The part of the press conference that will forever hold a special place in my memory is Yuzu throwing shade. This was awesome!! I know social media was divided about it, but I took it how it was intended by Yuzu. He wasn’t directing it at anyone and there was no ill will behind it. It was a normal part of sports folks!!
Yuzu: “Only when you win Olympics can you call yourself a true champion.” Oh Snap!! This was another one of my “wait, what?” moments when I heard it. You know when you don’t sleep for over 24 hours, you start to wonder if you heard correctly but sure enough, he said it (at least that’s how the translator said it).
I was proud of Yuzu for saying this. A lot of times, things get lost in translation and mis-understood by different cultures, but this was just the best diss I have ever heard from Yuzu. It’s nice to see a comment from an athlete that is not the standard media trained basic cliche!! Go Yuzu Go!!
Other priceless moments:
The “oh, shit!” moment when Brian supposed to be with Jason is one of the best moments in the competition. So glad the mic picked up on it!!
Yuzu hit another few milestones at Worlds. He became the first person to pass the 200 and 300 point thresholds, again!! He was the skater that accomplished this feat in the old scoring system too!! I would love to be able to say Yuzu was the first to hit the 100 mark in the new scoring system like he did in the old, but Shoma beat him to the punch in the new system by virtue of skating in an earlier competition.
So, in the first season of the new scoring system, Yuzu has broken 6 World Records which brings his total to 18 world records overall. Not bad for one seasons work. Yuzu still holds the World Record for the Short Program score (110.53) but Nathan is currently the Long Program and Overall Score world record holder.
I’m going to close off this blog entry with one more of Yuzu’s great quotes “Losing is as good as death” Because I am as competitive as Yuzu, I love it!!
Go YUZU Go!!! Doki Doki!!