Day 4 review - Men’s and Dance Free Skate, mixed zone snippets, and resumé of and exciting competition
I am sitting here on my Mom’s sofa, it’s Sunday morning, with the strange feeling: How can it already be over? Where has the week gone?
Looking back this one word can probably describe these World Championship best: Emotional!
We should all say a big, huge thank you that they made this event possible. Whoever spoke in the virtual mixed zone was entirely happy and grateful for the possibility to perform again. I personally spoke with two athletes yesterday - Donovan Carrillo and Deniss Vasiljevs again - and will present you these snippets at the end of this article.
During the first two groups of the men’s event you could entirely feel the pressure on the artists to qualify for an Olympic spot next year. Eager to perform they absolute best that pressure got too much for most of them and we saw many messy performances.
In the top two groups the pressure for earning Olympic spots was still there - many nations were eager to earn the second or third spot - but luckily most of these men were able to use the tension positively for themselves and we saw more successful performances:
The first one that really stood out for me was Jason Brown: Even though his quadruple Salchow was under rotated I couldn’t believe my eyes when he pulled it out and afterwards he was simply flying over the ice, with an enormous security and it was simply a joy to watch. His coach Tracy Wilson greeted him with the words: “Oh that was fun! Well done!“ - I agree, Tracy, I agree.
Shoma Uno’s child like glance to his coach Stéphane Lambiel and his following fist pump was the dearest moment of the night for me. He first needed to see his coach reaction to be happy about his skate, where he stumbled on his first quadruple Toeloop, but was almost clean for the rest of the program. In case you missed that moment, go back in the stream if you can and re-watch it. Shoma told in the mixed zone afterwards that the training in Switzerland brought him more happiness and more joy for the sport again and that development is just beautiful to see.
Keegan Messing from Canada totally justified his federation’s decision to send him to the Championships by skating two very strong performances.
Mikhail Kolyada showed up with a new costume but no new jumping content for his Free Skate as many of his fans had expected. Unfortunately he missed his second triple Axel. But the placement combination of the two FSR skaters (5 + 8 = 13) earned them a third spot for the next World Championships and possibly for the Olympic games.
I have to say I totally adore Nathan Chen’s mental strength and am eager to know his secret. Whenever it counts he pulls out an amazingly clean performance. His programs are maybe not as entertaining as some others but he compromises that with these massive and super clean jumps, so re-earning his World Championship crown is more than deserved. I read a very adequate and funny tweet on twitter about him and would like to quote that here:
By squ15 on twitter: “My mother watched the last group with me and asked me why Nathan did more jumps than the others. I asked if she meant more rotations and she said: No, the others where doing other things, he was only jumping. She likes him and loved the jumps and the fact that he was never falling and added: He was really happy after all the jumps and skated fast.“
Silver medalist Yuma Kagiyama realizing he had won a World medal was another golden moment. It was a delight to see his pure joy. He pulled out an almost clean performance with three textbook quads. For me Yuma is the dark horse for the Olympics since last year. But I guess you can’t call him a dark horse anymore after this competition.
It wasn’t the day of two time Olympic Champion Yuzuru Hanyu, who had a really rough start into his program but fought hard at the end and his massive lead from the Short Program over Shoma Uno saved him the bronze medal. A result he won’t be happy with, but he showed with his two outings this season - here and at Japanese Nationals - that he is still there, and still one of the top contenders for his third Olympic crown next season.
In Ice Dance I managed to watch at least the top 11 teams this time and had three clear favorites.
So my personal podium - for the Free Skate only - would have looked like that:
1st: Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier - Their long Program is just so soft and emotional and gave me goose bumps all over. I am really happy they earned a bronze medal - their first World Championships medal with this performance. Funny side note was that I realized they were wearing the exact same costume as last season - just in another color. That red was the lucky color for them as it seems.
2nd: Aleksandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin - I just love this Free Dance and the music choice - “Cry me a river“ by Justin Timberlake. It was a Program I wasn’t getting tired of, I am happy they kept it for two seasons and will definitely miss it next year. They were put in 5th place by the judges - they will probably have their reasons - I would have given them a medal.
3rd: Madison Chock and Evan Bates - I can’t believe either that this master piece of a program didn’t earn a World medal. It will be hard for them to come up with something as iconic as the Egyptian snake charmer for next season but they can definitely be sure that skating fans will remember this program forever.
Even though their programs don’t really match my personal taste - I have to admit that the winners - Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov from FSR showed a really passionate performance and I was genuinely touched by their emotional reaction when they realized they won the title.
Congratulations to all medalist in all disciplines and to all athletes who delighted us Fans with great performances and showed their endless love to the sport of figure skating. Thank you very, very much!
And as promised, here is my little bonus for today, my mixed zone conversations with Deniss Vasiljevs from Lativa and Donovan Carrillo from Mexico after the Free Skate.
In general I have to admit that I only ended up talking personally to those athletes that I know in person.
Other journalists usually asked the most burning questions already so I only dared to raise my hand for talking to those where I knew they would be happy to talk to me. It was great experience though, I really enjoyed listening to the athletes in the mixed zone, and enjoyed writing these reports. I want to thank Tatjana and Irene for giving me this amazing chance to work and write for them during these World Championships and really hope I can continue working as skating journalist in the future. -
Deniss didn’t have the Free Skate he hoped for, so I was really relieved to see him happy and relaxed in the mixed zone afterwards. As I know he enjoys talking about non-skating content my mixed zone question was as following:
I really hope you can still take some positives out of this journey - Deniss nodded heavily - and you told earlier this week that you enjoyed finally traveling again an exploring the new culture. During this limited time what did you explore about Sweden and what you you still like to see in Sweden or in Scandinavia in general?
DV: I got really fascinated by some kind of weird black bread. It’s rather a bit soft and I think it contains honey and has a lot of seeds inside and I really must learn this kind of brick-bread recipe. That’s something I really enjoyed. I also discovered that people here love potatoes. And the milk here is really good, the dairies. Just the amount of choices of the milks that you can put in your coffee… It’s like: You have to spend a good ten minutes to just read the labels. It’s really great that everyone can find a piece for themselves and precisely find what they want.
It’s amazing how the designs here are really optimized. I would say it’s rather minimalistic and modern. It’s impressive how people here think differently, dress differently and the overall entourage is very different from what I am used to and that’s a great experience and change of scenery for me.
My friend Marina was selected next to ask Deniss a question and kindly allowed me to publish it here as well:
I know that feeling the energy and support from the audience is really important for you but unfortunately it wasn’t possible here. So how did it feel for you to skate without audience and did it influence your skating or your mood?
DV: Yes, it did, because I see figure skating more as art and more diverse. As something you can not just grab and hold, it’s really blur. And the fact that there is someone who shares this energy with you really helps and motivates me to skate. And and a place like here when you are in a bubble and you know most of the people it feels a bit dull but it also gets a bit more competitive, in a friendly way. But less expressive and with less passion. So the competition had a different mood. But nevertheless I am very grateful for such an experience where my mind was a bit more narrow focused and it’s interesting, I have a lot to learn from it and i look forward to still assess.
Especially the way how it was in the short program. I look on it more in a spiritual way, a mood, embodiment of some spirit and that was very different in the free program. And today I felt like I was a little bit not to the point, it should not be crisp but it should still be sharp enough. Sharp with a nice touch. I lacked this a little bit and I look forward to see, assess and find a way how to implement it in more fluent motion. So it’s still work in progress.
Of course, I wish my personal favorite skating philosopher the best of luck with that and am looking very forward to see him next season, especially at his second Olympic games where he luckily already securely qualified.
Donovan Carrillo’s qualification is still pending on the interpretation of the rules, but I personally really hope his big dream will come true and we will be able to see him in Beijing.
My friend Maria from Absolute Skating had asked him before to tell a little bit more about his Free Skate and his music choice - she will publish it on their page during the next days. I jumped in afterwards and asked him what kind of idea and plans he had for upcoming programs:
DC: Well, we have a lot of options in mind, we are just not sure which one is the best for the Olympic season. I am happy and pretty motivated that we have time now to consider it. Maybe we will go back to another piece of music that I skated to before which was really important to me and to my family. It’s the one I used at Worlds in Milano in the Free Skate but it’s not decided yet. It’s one of my favorite music pieces that I ever skated to in my career and I would love to skate to it again.
Good luck Donovan, and I really hope to see you very soon. And here is the program/ music he was talking about that he plans to bring back. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IbmTMrVodSw
Photos: Tatjana Flade
Report: Judith Dombrowski