Ten programs to re-watch from day 2 for the 2021 Figure Skating World Championships, plus interview with Deniss Vasiljevs from Latvia
Today, I would like to do my recap in a little different style.
I will present you 10 programs of the mens Short Program and the Pairs Free Program away from the top 3 positions that I would recommend you to watch or re-watch.
#1. Deniss Vasiljevs, LAT, 14th after the SP
No doubt, I am a little bit biased here, as Deniss is my personal favorite skater since 2017, but if you want to understand why, go and watch his Short Program from today. He doesn’t have the Quad in the SP, but his performance level, creativity and interpretation is just something else. With skating to “Le Grand Tango“ by Astor Piazzola, Deniss showed he really grew up and is a totally complete performer. What makes him stand out from the rest of the field is, in my opinion, that every program is completely unique, has a different style and he puts his heart into every program.
I did talk to Deniss in the virtual mixed zone shortly today and a bit longer after his practice on Tuesday. Read this small interview as a bonus down at the bottom of this article.
#2. Mikhail Kolyada, FSR, 4th after the SP
Not too far away from the medal positions, and probably not a too unusual choice, but Mikhail Kolyada’s programs this season are just one of a kind and both so completely different, which shows in my opinion what a complete skater he is. In the Short Program he proves that he is a real showman. Additionally he has the most beautiful triple Axel and triple Lutz of the entire field. I was lucky to watch him live at the Challenge Cup in The Hague a month ago, where he completely impressed me with the immense hight of his jumps. I thought if anyone could jump a quadruple Axel at any time I can totally imagine it to be Mikhail.
#3. Donovan Carrillo, MEX, 23rd after the SP
Donovan also doesn’t have the most difficult jumping content, even though he does have a quad Toeloop as he proved during the practice at Challenge Cup. But he carries an immense joy of skating within himself. You can just tell how much he enjoys being out there and perform. Donovan has a very difficult year behind him, four months without ice, suffering from Covid19, that kept him away from the ice for another month. I can’t imagine anyone deserving it more to qualify for the Free Skate and hopefully the Olympics. I believe in you, Donovan, and your performance today was just amazing!
#4. Han Yan, CHN, 12th after the SP
Unfortunately we didn’t see Han Yan compete too often in the last seasons, so when he skates you have to enjoy it. He skates so soft, I usually have the impression he flies over the ice. He wasn’t entirely clean today, but that doesn’t take anything away from his beautiful program to the wonderful song “A thousand years“ by Christina Perri.
#5. Jason Brown, USA, 7th after the SP
Jason Brown is the god of Short Programs to me. They are smooth, they are elegant, they are cool, just every movement is on point. Don’t get me wrong, I also admire his Long Programs, but there is something about his Shorts that always gives me that extra magical feeling. This year he skates to the very American Song “Sinnerman“ by Nina Simone, and he gives you the feeling that song was written just for him to skate to it.
#6. Lukas Britschgi, SUI, 17th after the SP
It’s always such a joy to watch a skater perform at his absolute best in the moment it counts the most. Lukas improved his own personal ISU best in 10 points, landing one of the cleanest quadruple Toeloops of the day and his happiness was totally catching. Additionally I really enjoyed his modern and unique music choice, skating to the song “Amber“ by The Gardener & The Tree.
#7. Kirsten Moore-Towers / Michael Marinaro, CAN - 6th place overall
The song „The Blower’s Daugther“ by the amazing Damien Rice, in combination with the soulful skating of Kirsten and Michael - even before they started, I was thrilled when I heard their song choice. And they didn’t disappoint at all. For me the performance of the night with the highest goose- bumps-factor. They climbed rightly so 4 positions up from 10th to 6th position overall.
#8 Miriam Ziegler / Severin Kiefer, AUT - 11th place overall
A very sympathetic, experienced couple, that had to fight with injury problems all over the season, so that they hadn’t been able to perform yet the entire season. Just as the young Swiss Skater, I like their modern, unusual music choices and I was really happy for them, they skated both of their programs almost clean which rewarded them with a great 11th place finish.
#9. Nicole della Monica / Matteo Guarise, ITA - 8th place overall
It has actually been a while since I saw Nicole and Matteo that happy after a performance. After many messy skates over the last seasons and also in the Short Program here, they could finally show their full potential tonight which made me very happy to see. They also couldn’t stop smiling during their long mixed zone interview after the skate.
#10 Annika Hocke / Robert Kunkel, GER - 13th place overall
Annika and Robert really made an impression to me over this season. I got to know them personally at Nebelhorn Trophy last autumn and I met a very mature team for their young age, who work already a lot on their own choreography. Despite one fall on the throw triple Lutz, they had a great Free Skate tonight and Annika’s constant smile while performing is just wonderfully refreshing.
Additionally I really want to honor the new Pairs World Champions: Anastasia Mishina and Aleksandr Galliamov conquered my heart already two years ago when they became junior World Champions with the unforgettable program to “Party like a Russian.“ I am more than happy they could show their potential here at their very first Senior World Championships with two more than brilliant and powerful performances and with technical content far ahead of the rest of the field. In general it was a great night of pair skating today with a lot of convincing performances. Congratulations to all medalists and all athletes who could reach their personal goals. And we can look forward to a very exciting Olympic season in the discipline of Pair skating.
As promised here are the snippets of my mixed zone talkes with Deniss Vasiljevs from Latvia. It is always such a joy to catch up with him:
Deniss, how are you and how did your practice go so far?
DV: Thank you, I am feeling fantastic! Practice had some ups and downs but I am feeling so happy as I can finally be here and can feel the energy of this wonderful arena and the presence of other people and other skaters that I really missed. Because this season kind of did not really happen for me, I am really excited now. And you know these shaky hands when you go for it? I really missed his feeling. During the last months it was a bit like: Every day is the same, so I am just super happy to be here.
This competition surely is a really different experience than usual and I am really happy that it actually happens. This competition has it’s own challenges but I am sure I can find a way to overcome them.
I am very sure about that as well. How was traveling again, coming to Sweden, quarantine..?
DV: It’s its own story but to tell the short version of it: We were really lucky with the flight. It was really difficult to find it, but we had a super short flight connection, everything was super well done and well organized, and it was very pleasant to come here. It was a great feeling to get down from the mountain. Especially for me as it had been such a long time without traveling. Also traveling itself was very nice. It’s great to see how everything looks here, how everything is designed here, very different from the mountain for sure. I got a really beautiful view from my room.
The time in quarantine, well it was not super pleasant, but I had time to read my book, watch my unwatched things, work a little bit for university, so I found something to do, it was not as inconvenient than I feared before.
So, what book are you reading then, can you recommend something?
DV: I was re-reading the book on the warriors path, I am not sure I can tell you the author, but it’s a really fascinating book on the marshal artists in ours days and seeing the difference between them and how to apply some of the philosophies of Darwinism mostly. And I find this philosophy view very fascinating, it’s written by an American author and I had my first glances at American tribal kin, and I was really happy to discover that and just to see a different attitude of a person towards writing because I had quite a lot of books this year. Someone was sending me a lot of books and I was so grateful.
Oh, I happen to know the person who did that, I will send her your regards, okay?
DV: Oh yes, please do that, because I really loved the amount of books and the different styles and different kinds of reading and I had a really pleasant time with them. Thank you!
Side note: As I told Deniss, I know the person who sent Deniss the books, I am almost certainly sure he was talking about the book “On the Warrior’s Path: Philosophy, Fighting and Material Arts Mythology“ by Daniele Bolelli.
After his successful Short Program, I was allowed to ask Deniss one question in the virtual mixed zone and chose this one:
Congrats, Deniss on a great performance, I was so happy and I guess so are you. How did you feel right after you finished your performance today and what did your coach Stéphane Lambiel tell you right when you came off the ice?
DV: He told me that he really enjoyed my program and that it was spectacular.
Stéphane obviously said something next to him off camera.
DV: No, he said majestic, sorry. I still don’t see much difference. But he was really happy and it only added to my own happiness. Because I felt a lot of satisfaction and joy and power. I really missed it! I really missed performing for someone! When it’s not just a home performance but getting somewhere out, experiencing a new culture, new places and bring the best you can! It’s something that is really dear to me and I really hope I can keep on doing it in the future. Projecting my desire and passion to everyone who watches.
I am quite sure you can so that on Saturday with your Romeo and Juliet, thanks a lot, Deniss and enjoy the rest of your day!
Thanks a lot, have a wonderful day!
Photos: Tatjana FladeReport: Judith Dombrowski