Nathan Chen vs. Victor Nikiforov
Kubo has made some comments recently about how when YOI was being created she wanted it to be a ‘little ahead of where skating is right now’. It’s not as if they had the characters doing quintuples or something. She just, jump content wise, had the characters somewhat ahead of the standard of the top skaters in competition. Victor’s program in the first episode stood out to a lot of people. It seemed a bit fantastic!
He performed four different quads. No one had done that before. Jin Boyang had first done four quads in a program before, almost a year previous to YOI’s premiere. But… they weren’t four different quads. It did still seem a bit fanciful, although yes, it was inevitable that it would occur within a couple years. There were skaters, multiple ones, who we knew probably had the capability to do it. There was a lot of talk about a trio of teenagers nicknamed the ‘quad squad’ and which one would be first to pull it off. These three young men are Jin Boyang of China, Shoma Uno of Japan, and Nathan Chen of USA.
Anyway, the ‘first to pull it off’ ended up being Nathan Chen of the USA, and not only did he ‘pull off’ Victor Nikiforov’s jump layout, but he did him one over and completed a more difficult one. There’s no quad toe triple toe in there, but instead the harder combination the quad lutz + triple toe loop. However, he did do four different quads, and on top of that, one more, for a total of five quads. He’s now done this twice in two months, once at US Nationals and once at Four Continents.
Even Kubo-sensei herself expressed amusement at this. She meant to make the show a little bit in the future, but within a month of the series ending, actual figure skating surpassed it!
So how does Victor’s (record breaking in the YOI universe) Stammi Vicino free skate compare with Nathan Chen’s (history making in our universe) Polovtsian Dances free skate? Let’s take a look!
As a note, I don’t really have a way to know exactly the levels and base values of Victor’s step sequences and spins, so this will be based on jumps only. Also this is based on Nathan’s jump layout at US Nationals. His jump layout at Four Continents was slightly different. :)
- Quad Lutz + Triple Toe loop
- Quad Flip
- Quad Toeloop + Double Toe loop + Double Loop
- Quad Toeloop
- Triple Axel
- Quad Salchow
- Triple Lutz
- Triple Flip + Triple Toe loop
Base Value of jumps alone 91.96
I pulled these base values directly off icenetwork’s official scoring sheets, so if there’s anything wrong, blame them not me.
- Quad Lutz
- Quad Flip
- Triple Axel
- Quadruple Salchow
- Triple Axel + Triple Loop + Double Loop
- Triple Lutz
- Triple Flip
- Quadruple Toe Loop + Triple Toe Loop
Base Value of jumps alone: 88.79
If there’s a mistake in these though, it’s my fault.
Why is Victor’s so close to Nathan’s despite having one less quad? It’s mostly because his program is a little more backloaded with jumps than Nathan’s is. He puts his quad/triple as his last jump element, and he even squishes that three jump combination in his latter half of the program. Remember that jumps in the latter part of your program get a 10% bonus on scores. This is emphasized in YOI especially with Yuuri’s character, as his stamina allows him to put the most difficult elements of his program near the end of his programs to take advantage of that. A quad flip within mere moments of your program ending is absolutely balls to the wall nuts, but Yuuri does it in both his short and long programs at the GPF.
Nathan Chen’s original program plan at US Nationals was a triple loop where the last quad salchow is. If he had done that, he would have had four quads and his base value would have been: 85.51, which is a little below Victor’s (despite the fact that Nathan’s quadruple jump combo, the 4 lutz/3 toe is more difficult than Victor’s choice of a 4 toe/3 toe. In fact, at Four Continents it broke a record for the highest score on an individual element!). The power of those latter half bonuses is strong!
Anyway, the scores being close w/ four quads all makes sense, as the quads Victor and Nathan have in their competitive arsenal are identical. The one quad they both don’t do is the loop (Victor apparently can but has only done it in exhibition, so perhaps it’s not something he’s consistent enough on? And of course no one does the axel).
I wouldn’t call Nathan’s program particularly front loaded. However, if he does want his sky high base scores to be even higher, he can try to move some more of those jumps to the latter half. He is still only seventeen though, so he may not have developed the stamina for it yet. Victor on the other hand, has been working on this forever. That being said, that also proves what an athlete Victor is, because he’s twenty-seven years old and still doing this, which is incredible. Twenty-seven is still very young, but figure skating, like gymnastics, is known as a sport with a mayfly life span for a lot of athletes. It’s very hard on the body. Thus, Victor slamming out those quads at the end of his program at twenty-seven is pretty darn amazing.
But yes Nathan is an absolutely stunning (and non-fictional!) athlete. It’s wonderful what he’s done. I’d be interested to see how Victor’s short program layout compares to his, but we don’t have any info on that, although I could do a comparison to JJ’s Rostelecom layout or Yuuri’s (planned) GPF one!