eiskunstlauf, Reisen

Men and Free Dance – World Figure Skating Championships in Helsinki 2017 – Part 4

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.

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the rink on a sunny day

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

eiskunstlauf, Reisen

World Figure Skating Championships in Helsinki – Part 2

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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.

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the harbour in morning lighting

The Uspenski catherdral is a catholic church with a sort of Russian looking design:

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Uspenski cathedral

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

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cathedral of Helsinki

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 😉

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lots of work for the flower kids

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).