On Thursday the competition began relatively late, so we had a little time for sightseeing. We used the opportunity to walk towards the harbour again and visit two of the biggest churches of Helsinki, the white cathedral and the Uspenski cathedral. The weather and the early morning light were just awesome.
The Uspenski catherdral is a catholic church with a sort of Russian looking design:
The white cathedral is a protestant church, that looks very impressive from the outside, but has a rather typical (for protestant churches) simple design on the inside
After our walk around Helsinki, it was time for the second day of skating. Today it was time for the Men SP and the final of the pairs. Generally I’ve never been too much of a fan of men’s skating (due to them having a tendency to skate to bombastic action movie soundtracks while wearing boring costumes), but currently there are a lot of many strong men and I have to say overall I think the presentation aspect of skating has improved a little bit in men Skating, despite the technical difficulties still dominating everything (S. and I remembered that back when we were big skating fans, Michael Weiss was always talking about trying a quad lutz and now there’s actually skaters doing it , along with other men landing tons of quads all over the programs. Of course a development that does not only have advantages…
In the earlier groups S. and I were a bit amused to see Kevin Reynolds, since he still looks exactly like the last time we saw him (which is an awful lot like Ron Weasley 😉 , plus a very individual hairstyle). As some years ago, he has some deficiencies in skating and jump technique and isn’t the most artistic skater, but he delivered a very strong skate in the SP, that kept him in the lead for a very long time and gained him a good place before the LP. Also Brendan Kerry from Australia was surprisingly strong. I also really enjoyed the SP from Mikhail Kolyada from Russia, who skated to a folkloristic Tango music and had very clean jumps. Boyang Jin from China had a very entertaining and crowd-pleasing program to a music called „Spiderman“ AND a quad lutz. Nathan Chen even had 2 quads (in the short program! that is something one definitely wouldn’t have seen 10 years ago), but fell on the 3axel. Alexei Bychenko from Israel is not the most exciting or elegant skater, but at least he’s usually a guarantee for rather solid skates.
During Yuzuru Hanyus skate it suddenly felt as if we were in Japan, because so many spectators were from Japan and also because as it seems Hanyu is something like a rock star there. Which one could also see from the look of the ice after his skate 😉
Hanyu is my favorite male skater at the moment as well, but he made an uncharacteristic mistake in his rather psychedelic short program and only managed to get 5th place in the SP. I wasn’t too crazy about any of the top 3 of the SP, Patrick Chan has never been my taste (but his music choice to obscure Beatles songs wasn’t that bad), neither is Javier Fernandez (somehow his skating always looks the same to me, no matter what music he chooses, which might explain my subjective impression that he’s always wearing a black costume while skating to Spanish music –> in this SP he REALLY was wearing a black costume and skating to Spanish music). My absolute favorite of the SP was as usually Jason Brown, who just is such an engaging and artistic skater, who can always connect to the music and the audience that I totally prefer him to any male skater with quads. Since Jasons technique is so strong and his other elements are as well, he can compete rather well with the men who have more difficult jumps, which makes me very happy.
After a break it was time for the Pairs LP, which unfortunately wasn’t as strong as the SP, but still good. Of the earlier pairs, I was the most impressed with Marchei & Hotarek and Seguin & Bilodeou, who had the only really clean skates of the earlier groups. Overall the competition was a bit „mixed“ in terms of clean performances and mistakes, but it was an enjoyable evening nonetheless. Savchenko & Massot had a very very good skate and I really enjoyed their big movements and I also like the LP (even if the SP is a bit more fun) as a program. Overall I think they are a good pair, even if Aljona in both her pairings so far has a bit the problem that she is so dominant (in terms of personality and skating skills) that her partners never seem to be able to be her „equal“. In pairs skating that of course always leads to the effect that you are not going to see a real „unity“ on ice like with some exceptional pairs of the past. But considering all that, her successes with both Robin Szolkowy and Bruno Massot of course still were incredible and it’s lovely to see her having so much more fun now in her career with Bruno (even if they were a bit disappointed about „only“ winning silver here in Helsinki). Still one can’t help but wonder what Aljona might have achieved if she had once found a partner who is equally ambitious and technically strong (I suppose it would either have led to incredible brilliance or to „blood and thunder“ 😉 ) or if Savchenko & Szolkowy hadn’t been hindered by the complicated and conflicted coaching and private situation with Ingo Steuer.
Even if Savchenko & Massot had a very good LP skate, I was very happy that Sui & Han managed to hang on to the victory with an also very good skate. I just love their skating style and they are very harmonic as a pair. I find it quite funny, that now that I’m not such a big skating fan anymore, suddenly my favorites are winning in many disciplines 😛 Back when I was a passionate fan, my favorites seemed to hang around 4th to 6th place or bomb at most important competitions (maybe with the exception of Sale & Pelletier in pairs).