sochi*

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This happened 3 years ago today. 

After a very dissapointing short program, where she finished 16th, Mao came back with all guns blazing and delivered this incredibly emotional performace. 

During her whole career she has tried to push the boundaries of the sport, delivering not only technical content most ladies wouldn’t even dare to try, but also artistry and skating skills like no other. Her step sequences, her musicality, and her emotional conection to the music and the audience have moved skating fans all over the world. She’s been up and down during her entire career, her life hasn’t been easy, but not once has she given up. 

To me this is one of the most inspirational performances ever. I hope to see her in a year in Pyeongchang.

Thank you for all the wonderful performances you’ve shared with us Mao, i hope there will be more to come :)

Nathan Chen is rare American to master quadruple jumps

Here’s a figure skating rarity: An American man, Nathan Chen, is pushing the envelope on jumps with an assortment of quads that will have the rest of the world’s top skaters needing to expand their repertoires.

Quadruple jumps rarely have been a staple of U.S. men’s programs. While Russian, Japanese and Chinese skaters were loading up on the four-rotation point grabbers, the top Americans generally stuck to triples and artistry. Evan Lysacek won the 2010 Olympic gold medal with a brilliantly choreographed and versatile free skate that was devoid of quads. Evgeny Plushenko, the 2006 Olympic champion, pointed that out after finishing second to Lysacek.

Now comes Chen, 17, whose victory at Four Continents over the weekend was a huge step up from his win at nationals in January. In beating Sochi gold medalist Yuzuru Hanyu, three-time world winner Patrick Chan and Chinese jumping jack Jin Boyang, Chen established himself as a force on the international scene.

He did so in Pyeonchang, South Korea, on the 2018 Olympic arena ice. He did so with a stunning program that included five quads; some American men would be happy to land that many in a season.

And he wasn’t all that impressed with his performance, either.

“This is the first (international) championship event that I’ve won,” Chen said Sunday. “I had a good lead coming out of the short program, which really benefited me in the long program. I tried five quads today and I landed three of the five solidly. The other two were a little shaky, so that’s something that I need to improve on for worlds.”

Chen finished second to Hanyu in the free skate. So, yes, there is plenty to work on before heading to the world championships in late March in Helsinki, where Spain’s Javier Fernandez, the two-time defending champ, will compete.

Still, what Chen has done is somewhat groundbreaking in U.S. skating. His artistry isn’t at Lysacek’s level - no American man has come close to that since 2010 - but his technical skills have raised the bar not only for his often-reluctant countrymen, but for every member of the men’s field.

“The amount of quads I put into a program in a particular season is relative to how my body is adapting to training, how my body’s adapting to competition and what the other skaters are doing,” Chen said. “Yuzu (Hanyu) definitely pushed everything in terms of figure skating: the jumps, the artistry, everything together as a whole package. He really kind of started that when we were all junior skaters, including Shoma (Uno) and Boyang.

’‘Boyang really started that huge quad craze when we were younger. We were all struggling to get all our triples and do triple-triples and he was out there doing four quads in a long (program). I think that really motivated all of us junior skaters to start working on these quads and putting them into the programs. It’s really showing up now that we’re senior skaters.”

The fear, of course, is what all those quads in daily practices, let alone under the intense pressure of competition, can do to a body. His coach, Rafael Arutunian, believes Chen is only touching the limits of his ability, but he also notes that keeping any skater healthy under that physical pounding is difficult.

But it’s virtually impossible to pull the reins in on a rising star, especially someone who wants to soar into uncharted air.

“Initially, a few weeks ago, that (five quads) wasn’t the plan,” Chen said matter-of-factly, as if two or three quads is something easy to do. “But as time progressed and I saw what the other guys were doing, I decided I didn’t want to be held back by myself. It played out well for me … so I’m glad that’s the way things went. We’ll see what happens at worlds.”

Khada Jhin’s vanity is a learned vice.

Before he was Khada Jhin, and more the wily, disagreeable Sochi Yang, his self image was an oversight: something to be looked after only when he was through with seething and filling himself with distaste for the many frustrations he suffered from his father and the responsibilities shunted to him. When that facade fell apart and took Sochi Yang’s world with it, Khada Jhin was the result of that running away; but he was young, inexperienced still, and thoroughly paranoid of what lay ahead of him.

It was not until Khada Jhin stopped the buzzing and realized his obsession with Daisuke Emiya that he learned the value of vanity. As Emiya lay dying, his lips cut and slashed from his last duet and his chest bleeding bloody from the worax horns pierced into it, Jhin happily sapped every lady vestige of his withering away and walked out someone else, believing that he had absorbed Emily’s qualities within him through that final duet. Emiya was fickle, precise, talented and deeply narcissistic.

Khada Jhin, not unlike a child miming his betters, reflects that very internalization. He has only grown into those traits since as the years have developed.

As for Emiya, his body served well for the moment it did on his family’s mantle.

PLEASE REMEMBER THAT YUURI ALREADY HAS THE FOLLOWING ABILITIES BEFORE VIKTOR COACHED HIM:

1. His musicality and artistry. It was noted both by Yuuri (himself) and Viktor that his PCS score often makes up for his TES. Considering his background with dancing, this should be a given. Add the fact that he prefers ballet for his training off ice (EP2 & EP3), plenty of credits should be given to Minako.

2. His amazing spins and step sequences. Yuri noticed that during the GPF in Sochi. Obviously, Celestino is his coach at that time. He probably learned those fancy footwork from him or another before going to the US.

3. He can land a TRIPLE AXEL consistently. Axel is the most difficult jump but Minami and the skating commentators in the series have implied that the triple axel is one of Yuuri’s signature moves. Minami kept waxing poetic about it and, fanboy that he is, trained hard to be able to execute it (EP5). Commentators have mentioned that the triple axel is ”one of his [Yuuri’s] favorites” (EP7). They wouldn’t say that if Yuuri is crap at it. They will only take note of it if Yuuri had been consistently excellent at it… which he is. If you watch his skating programs in the series again, you’ll see that Yuuri flubbed the triple axel only twice: in Sochi (the still image flashback) & in the Cup of China FS. The rest, both in his SP and FS, were perfect.

Now, sorry for being so whiny about this but I’ve developed a pet peeve turned berserk button with this after seeing too many fics that constantly undermines Yuuri’s skating abilities by writing him as incapable of landing triples before Viktor AND/OR when Viktor is absent (which is infinitely worse). I had to let this out:

Yuuri is not that helpless. If he’s that piss poor with triple jumps, then he would have never made it into the GPF in Sochi. Also, Celestino would have been a terrible coach if he didn’t train Yuuri to land triples. Obviously, the man is not a terrible coach since he managed to take Yuuri AND Phichit all the way to the GPF. Lastly, Yuuri is a prideful person so if he couldn’t land triples, then he would have trained day in and day out to perfect them because he would never dare show his face to the world if he’s so bad at it. So stop crediting Viktor with Yuuri’s ability to land triple jumps. He’s not responsible for them.

4. He can do a quad toe loop. He had to learn and use at least one damn quad to have reached GPF Sochi. From his scores, we can guess that he landed it better too compared with his triples despite being mentally & emotionally compromised as well. Kudos to Celestino’s training.

CONCLUSION: Yuuri is not a shitty skater before Viktor AND when Viktor is absent. All of Yuuri’s skills should not be attributed to Viktor’s coaching AND  presence alone because Minako, Celestino, and others helped him with some of those. Most importantly, YUURI WORKED FUCKING HARD FOR ALL OF HIS ABILITIES. Giving Viktor, and only Viktor, full credits for that reduces his agency and relationships with other characters.

dailymotion

Looking back briefly from Sochi Olympics til now by News Every (9 Feb 2017): 

The wall is the ‘world highest’ himself 
-one year to PyeongChang Olympics-

Narrator: 3 years ago, at Sochi Olympics, Hanyu was 19 and participated in his 1st Olympics. His SP had a quad toeloop and a triple axel with a difficult entry. He scored 101.45 which was a new world record and the 1st time in history that the score broke 100 points. He won the 1st gold medal in men’s figure skating for Japan.

[holding the medal]
Yuzu: It’s so round. (laughs) Holding it in my hand like this, I am very happy.

[press conference after Sochi]
Y: 4 years later is PyeongChang Olympics. I will make use of the time effectively.

2014 Aug,
Y: After raising the level, continue to raise the level further. This is what I must do, and this is what I want to do.

Narrator:
Just as he had said, last season he pushed up the level of the figure skating world in one swoop.

[GPF Dec 2015]
Quads: 3 at Sochi; 5 at last season.
Difficult jumps with high quality, rich in expressiveness.
He made new records for SP, FP and Total score.
But even then, he does not intend to stop evolving.
Yuzu: To make a new wall (meaning challenge), how much of an ideal form can I make my skating….

N: The wall is himself, the world’s highest (or best).
To surpass himself, he thought about the jump layout before this season started.

[Aug 2016, Yuzu looking at his own protocol sheet for GPF 2015.]
Y: It’s rather….. difficult. (laughs)….. The hurdle is high. (laughs)…. I will calculate it now.
[difference between last season and this season shown on protocol sheet]
Y: The difference of one quad jump is very big in terms of the score…. and also in terms of stamina.

N: For this season, he adds in the challenge of a quad loop which no one has succeeded in doing before.
[open practice in Toronto in Sept 2016]
Y: During practice, I feel like crying. (laughs) Like, why can’t I do the jump….

[Oct 2016, competition- Autumn Classic- succeeded in quad loop, landed 3 out of 6 quads for SP and FP]
Yuzu: I am just very regretful. Most regretful that I could not do my programme completely.
N: But he had no intentions of lowering his jump level.

N: There are many more skaters doing difficult jumps now compared to the time at Sochi.
Yuzu:  The figure skating world now is in a situation where there are almost no limits. Everyone is gradually opening up the paths.
Being able to do something difficult, I feel happy and there is a sense of achievement.

[Nov 2016- NHK Trophy]

N: Although it was not perfect yet, he scored above 300 points in total, a first for this season.
Then at GPF in Dec, he won his 4th straight victory but he was still unable to surpass “the world’s best, himself”.
Right after the competition, [Yuzu leaving venue]
Y: I will work hard again. I will practise a lot.

[press conference]
Y: I want to win the gold at PyeongChang and I am working hard for that.

N: From Sochi to PyeongChang, surpassing himself, towards the gold medal, the champion continues to evolve.

–translated by me, just the important points.
Thanks to pino16.17 for the video.