Saturday was the last competition day and S. and I had not been to pleased when we noticed that the final event of the competition would be the Free Dance. Now I used to be a big ice dance fan as mentioned before, but I think even back in the days when I really loved ice dancing I wouldn’t necessarily have wanted it to be the final competition, since it’s just the discipline with the most subjective judging. Maybe it used to have the most entertainment factor, but I don’t really see that anymore today either, so I’m not sure why the schedule in Helsinki was adjusted to have dance last. It’s not as if Finland has a great couple with medal chances anymore. I personally would have prefered the men as the final competition.
The weather on Saturday was still a bit rainy/snowy, so it was a good day to spend it nearly completely at the rink. I was quite excited about the mens final and we did arrive in time for the first group, which didn’t really have big highlights, but nonetheless some rather strong skates. In the second group there definitely was a first big highlight, Misha Ge from Uzbekistan had a very clean and very emotional skate, that really was wonderful to watch. He has been having problems with injuries and announced that this World Championships were probably going to be his last competition, which explains the emotional reaction. By now I’ve read conflicting reports on whether he REALLY has decided whether he quits already, but I’m glad to hear that he is concentrating on choreographing for the moment, because he certainly has a good talent for it and it would be a pity if his creative potential wasn’t used for figure skating anymore.
For the third group I mainly noted down that there was lots of heavy music, so I suppose that wasn’t one of my favorite groups 😉 Another expected highlight of the event was Jason Brown again, who wasn’t 100% clean, but still had a strong skate and I as usually admired his beautiful lines. Kevin Reynolds landed a lot of quads, but due to his deficits in skating still and jump technique that leads to him getting good results, but still not being able to compete with the absolute top skaters. Still I thought this was a very good competition for him and I did find him ok to watch, since his choreographies have improved from earlier years .
After Yuzuru Hanyu had made a mistake in the SP, he finally delivered one his incredibly strong skates in the LP and I feel really privileged to have gotten the opportunity to see him live AND such a good skate, since I think that he’s most definitely one of the best male figure skaters ever. And he does have the rare but important combination of being a great jumper, a great technician AND still being an artistically strong skater. For me he was by far the highlight of the long program:
Boyang Jin of China had a „La Strada“ program that was a bit empty choreographically, but still quite nice to watch. He is not the most artistic skater, but he makes up for it by choosing very audience friendly programs. Another positive surprise in the LP was Shomo Uno, for me he had the best choreography in the LP, skating to a Tango, but not one the typical overused choices that one has heard a thousand times over the years, but an interesting rarely used Tango and I found the choreography very intricate and well interpreted. Patrick Chan and Javier Fernandez didn’t do much for me, Fernandez also had a very bad skate that cost him a medal in the end.
Overall I really liked the men competition in Helsinki and mens skating is a discipline that I definitely like better now than in the past, when I usually had 1 or 2 favorites that I really liked and a few top skaters that were very interesting (like Plushenko or Yagudin), but where I found the overall competition often rather dragging and bland. Nowadays, I tend to like more skaters, even if I don’t have big favorites.
We went to a Mexican restaurant in the break, that had an interesting mixture of self service and regular service that I haven’t encountered in Germany, you have to get your drinks at the bar, order meals at the bar, but then they are delivered to your table.
I didn’t take any notes on the Free Dance, which sort of summarizes my excitement…I had hoped it would have a bit more mixed and entertaining music choices than the Original Dance, but somehow everybody seemed to skate to some contemporary classical music, with the exception of the Polish team, who skated to „Dirty Dancing“ and Chock & Bates, who skated to a remix of „Under Pressure“ from David Bowie and Queen. If I had to choose a favorite, it would again be that program from Chock & Bates, but unfortunately they skated not so well and fell from 4th to 7th place.
I found the finale of the Free Dance a bit strange, Virtue & Moir managed to hang on to the victory despite a small stumble, the French skated very strongly, but somehow their programs always look the same to me, like S. said like „contemporary dancing on ice“. Hubbell & Donohue skated last and were in an excellent 3rd position after the SD and they also started well (fast and with big movements) into their FD, but then he fell quite specularily on the Twizzle sequence and that so badly that I think the whole sequence probably didn’t count anything at all, which led to them falling from 3rd place to 9th.
When they showed the Top 3 winners in the waiting area, everybody sort of looked not that happy, which was a bit weird and when they were interviewed, Virtue & Moir somehow managed to sound so diplomatic, that they gave off the impression of being a bit sorry for having beaten their training mates for Gold. I mean that might be „nice“, but it’s a sport competition after all and if you think of ice dance rivalries of the past, one certainly wouldn’t have gotten such an impression from the likes of Grishuk, Usova, Fusar Poli or Anissina 😀
Overall I wasn’t crazy about the Free Dance, but I’m sure that for people who enjoy the current style of ice dancing, it was an entertaining competition with lots of good skate. That sort of ice dancing is just not so much my taste.