Photos and reports from practice ice at the 2018 World Championships in Milan, Italy are already streaming across my Instagram and Twitter feeds, and somehow, I haven’t written about the Olympics on here yet. It was a lot of fun to write for Cosmo leading up to and during the Games, and I also did some live tweeting and reporting for Figure Skaters Online. But now I’m back to this space to share some of my favorite moments from the Olympics, and what I’m most looking forward to at Worlds.
- The entire pairs event
I tend to write least about pairs on here, but it actually turned out to be my favorite event to watch this Olympics. The level of skating was just incredible, and the respect and sportsmanship among the top teams was really special to witness. Watching Meagan Duhamel congratulate Aljona Savchenko in that backstage green room area was a memorable moment from two great champions of the sport. NBC commentator and 2006 Olympic ice dance silver medalist Tanith White captured the moment and shared it on Instagram:
I think this is probably a favorite of most Olympic viewers, but Aljona Savchenko and Bruno Massot’s free skate was just glorious. The choreography was so fluid between elements that it was like watching a merging of pairs and ice dance.
Watching Duhamel and partner Eric Radford nail a throw quad salchow and be so satisfied with their performance, even before they ended up on the podium, was also a great moment, after the struggles they had last season and early this season.
The Knierims of Team USA made me cry during the team short program with their beautiful skate to “Come What May” — their side-by-side triples working, plus her exuberant landing on the throw triple flip, were both emotional, triumphant moments.
Unfortunately, neither of these great programs are on YouTube, or else I’d link to the videos!
2. Men’s free skate
As most devoted skating fans know, sometimes a men’s free skate these days is more of a fall-fest than a quad-fest, what with the high risk-high reward jumps that these guys are attempting. It was great to see multiple well-rounded performances in the men’s event at this Olympic Games. Watching Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu make history and defend his Olympic title, with a program that has such personal meaning to both himself and his country, was simply magical. I saw a flawed version of the program in person at the 2016 World Championships, and it was just so satisfying to see it delivered to its potential — on a recovering ankle, no less. It was certainly a physical AND mental triumph.
Javier Fernandez of Spain is a personal favorite of mine, and he was another who did a program with a nod to his home country, with that “Man of La Mancha” free skate. Even when he doubled the second quad salchow, it was a sparkling performance that finally earned him that well-deserved Olympic medal.
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from Nathan Chen, who looked jittery and sort of like he’d rather be anywhere else when he took the ice. But what. a. comeback. He showed grit and heart out on that ice, and I think it will serve him better in the long run than having won the gold here.
3. Maia and Alex Shibutani’s “Paradise” free dance admittedly didn’t inspire as much love and enthusiasm in me as their “Fix You” Coldplay program, but their Olympic free dance performance made me a believer. They delivered it with the most heart and passion of the season at the Olympics and were so deserving of that podium spot.
4. Kaetlyn Osmond’s long program
I love any and all programs choreographed by Jeff Buttle, and this one is a favorite. This long program was the epitome of complete skating for me: her jumps are the biggest and best in the event, her spins are fantastic, and her portrayal of the black swan was intense, captivating, and aggressive. If I were on the judging panel, she would have been the gold medalist. But even more impressive than all that was the way she recovered from a step-out on her triple lutz about a minute into the program. Kaetlyn has a bit of a history of struggling in the long, but you could see the determination on her face after the lutz, and the way she was able to hit the reset button for the second half of her program took great mental toughness.
1. This is an appropriate segue from the Olympic favorites, because the Italian teams of Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte (ice dance) and Valentina Marchei and Ondrej Hotarek (pairs) were another highlight of the Olympics for me, and I can’t wait to see how they perform at Worlds in their home country. Marchei and Hotarek skated three clean, superb performances in PyeongChang, and Cappellini and Lanotte had a personal best short dance. I’m thinking the home crowd and support will elevate their already-steller showmanship and presentation — perhaps all the way to the podium in their respective events. With two of three Olympic medalists in both their events withdrawing from Worlds, the door is wide open. My thanks to the internet that this gif of the four of them exists:
2. I’ve written this a few times on here, but I love the American ice dance team of Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker. Since the Shib Sibs withdrew from Worlds, this team gets to go to Milan in their place, and I’m excited for their World Championship debut — and one last time for their “Liebestraum” free dance.
3. Is redemption possible after Olympic disappointment for the Russian pair of Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov and the American dance teams, Madison Hubbell/Zachary Donohue and Madison Chock/Evan Bates? Each of these teams struggled in their respective free programs in PyeongChang, and it would be great to see them end the season on a high note in Milan.
4. Staying on the theme of skaters who will compete at Worlds post-Olympics, I have so much respect for the skaters who tackle a World Championships after their Olympic success, like ladies bronze medalist Kaetlyn Osmond; team bronze medalist and historic triple axel lander Mirai Nagasu, Olympic Ladies Champion Alina Zagitova; Olympic Pairs Champions Aljona Savchenko and Bruno Massot; Olympic Men’s Silver Medalist Shoma Uno; and Olympic Ice Dance Silver Medalists Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron. Not only are the Olympics tiring and emotionally draining, but the media and promotional opportunities that come afterwards can take a skater away from training time. But this crew is obviously up to the challenge and it will be great to see their programs one more time before the season wraps up.
5. The end of an Olympic cycle always brings with it change, whether that’s in the form of retirements, partner breakups, coaching changes, etc. It will be interesting to see who can grab momentum for the next quadrennial at this last event of the 2017-2018 season. Will American Nathan Chen win his first World medal? Will any of the American ladies distinguish themselves from the pack? I’ll be watching!