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Highlights from Day 9: Saturday, February 17
Tonight during the free programs, fans witnessed a gamut of emotion – from failure to redemption, from injuries to comebacks, from previous disappointment to euphoria, plus history making performances. The 2018 Men’s Olympic event will be talked about in skating circles forever.
- Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu won back-to-back Olympic figure skating gold medals, the first since the USA’s Dick Button in 1948 and 1952. Hanyu’s victory is even more impressive when taken into account that an ankle injury kept him off the ice for three months immediately prior to Pyeongchang.
- In 2002, Alexei Yagudin and Evgeny Plushenko stood atop the Salt Lake City podium as Russian gold and silver medalists. Four Olympiads later In Pyeongchang, Yuzuru Hanyu and Shoma Uno joined them in accomplishing the same feat for Japan.
- Shoma Uno fell on his opening quad loop, but bounced up quickly and without hesitation jumped into a quad flip. He struggled midway through the program, but with the grit and determination of a true Olympic warrior, he pushed through to the end.
- Javier Fernandez won Spain’s first Olympic medal after a disappointing fifth place finish in 2014. Ironically, both competitions involved lost Salchow points. In Sochi, he missed the podium when he turned a Salchow into a triple, then repeated the jump. Tonight he doubled down the quad Salchow, lost nine base points and turned silver into bronze.
- After his disastrous short program, American Nathan Chen hit the ice with fire in his belly. One by one he checked off six quads – five successfully – and won the free skate. His vault from 17th place to fifth was historic as were his five registered quads.
- The 2017 World Junior Champion, Vincent Zhou of the United States, attempted five quads and moved from twelfth to sixth. After his final spin, he emotionally fell across the Olympic rings and sobbed. The seventeen-year-old had just scored two personal bests in two programs in two days.
- The USA’s Adam Rippon again skated a quad-less program, but his arsenal of clean triple jumps landed him in 10th. He and Nathan Chan earned bronze medals in the Team Event.
- China’s Boyang Jin withdrew from the GPF after competing in the 2017 Grand Prix Series with two sprained ankles caused by loose boot laces. Two months later, he finished fourth at the Olympics, less than eight points off the podium.
- Patrick Chan skated to “Hallelujah” then left the competitive ice for (as we assume) the final time. His 17-year career that began in 2001 with a Canadian Juvenile bronze medal includes three World and Four Continent Championships, two GPF Championships and ten National Championships. Chan won silver in Sochi. He also has two team medals – silver in 2014 and gold in 2018.
- Canada’s Patrick Chan, Olympic Athletes from Russia’s Mikhail Kolyada and Italy’s Matteo Rizzo skated in both rounds of the Team Event and two individual competitions.
Timothy Goebel – The original Quadmaster of the U.S.
- Twenty years ago at the 1998 Junior World Championships, Timothy Goebel was the first American skater to land a quad jump of any kind. He was also the first skater in the world to land a quad Salchow.
- In 1999 at Skate America in Colorado Springs, Timothy Goebel was the first to land three quad Salchow in one program.
- At the 2002 Olympics, Timothy Goebel was the first skater to successfully land a quad Salchow in combination.
- Timothy Goebel was the first man in the world to land six quads in a single competition.
- Timothy Goebel landed 76 quads in his career.
Highlights from Day 8: Friday, February 16
Tonight at the Gangneung Arena the men took to the Olympic ice for their short programs, which included three jumps, three spins, and a step sequence. Of the 30 skaters who performed in the short program competition, only 24 will move on to take the ice in the free skate.
After the topsy-turvy competition, tomorrow’s headline might read like the familiar opening of ABC’s Wide World of Sports…
“The thrill of victory… and the agony of defeat…the human drama of athletic competition”
- Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu is in Pyeongchang to defend his 2014 Olympic title. He has been MIA since injuring an ankle in November. Tonight he hit the ice with confident defiance and methodically checked off his three difficult jumping passes that account for over 44 of his 63.18 technical points.
- Hanyu has earned Japanese rock star status with a huge entourage of photographers, journalists and fans that trace his every step. Reminiscent of the 1960’s ‘Beatlemania’ fandom, passionate young females follow the skater to competitions all over the world, tossing gifts and Winnie the Pooh stuffed animals on the ice. Some even dress in Pooh costumes.
- An animated Charlie Chaplin routine by Spain’s Javier Fernandez put him four points behind his training mate.
- In third place with all positive GOEs, Japan’s Shoma Uno told the press he was unhappy with his program. He skated appropriately to “Winter” from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons.
- China’s Boyang Jin appeared fully recovered from the ankle injuries that plagued him earlier this season. Jin’s technical content was second overall (60.27), but both Fernandez and Uno posted PCS marks that were 3 plus points higher, so Jin settled for fourth.
- Dmitri Aliev, the 18-year old European silver medalist, finished fifth after landing two quads and a triple axel and receiving technical marks close to the those received by the top four. Aliev, who won the silver medal at the European Championships last month, has an eight point lead over Patrick Chan of Canada who landed in sixth after a fall on his triple axel.
- American Adam Rippon is the only one in the top ten not to attempt a quad. His clean skate was rewarded with seventh place.
- Vincent Zhou, the youngest member of the USA delegation, skated third and immediately landed the first quad Lutz in Olympic history. Zhou finished the evening in 12th.
- Nathan Chen, the young American phenom, had a disappointing performance earning negative GOE’s for all three of his jumping passes. He found himself in unfamiliar territory at the end of the evening. The U.S. National Champion finished 17th and has a lot of ground to make up.
- Adam Rippon and Nathan Chen train together with Rafael Arutunian in the Los Angeles area. Rippon is the oldest of six children while Nathan is the youngest of five. It is a perfect set up for a big brother – little brother relationship.
- Keegan Messing was born in Alaska, but holds dual American-Canadian citizenship. In 2014, he began skating for Canada, his mother’s birthplace. He finished tonight in 10th.
- Other performances of note include Michal Brezina (Czech Republic), Misha Ge (Uzbekistan), and Jorik Hendrickx (Belgium). As Hendrickx took the ice for his performance, the camera panned to a nervous Loena Hendrickx, Jorik’s younger sister who also qualified for the Olympics.
- The 2014 Olympic bronze medalist, Kazakhstan’s Denis Ten, nursed a ligament ankle injury all season, but he wanted desperately to compete in South Korea. Ten is the great-grandson of Min Keung Ho, a famous general who fought for Korean independence. His statue and memorial is just 35 miles from PyeongChang. Ten competed tonight, but unfortunately did not qualify for the free skate.
Highlights from Day 7: Thursday, February 15
Tonight at Gangneung Arena, the audience watched and applauded as the early teams performed their routines. All the while the attentive crowd was anticipating the final showdown amongst the best athletes in the world. It was like enjoying the sweet smell of pastries baking in the oven, but knowing the cooked treats would be well worth the wait.
- Is it time for the pairs and dance teams to be maximized again? Unfortunately, the audience missed the opportunity to watch a second program by some noteworthy skaters. Those left off the final roster included the host country team, a two-time World Junior and JGP Final gold medalist with a previous partner and the reigning World Junior Champions.
- A memorable byte from the Pairs event was the inclusion of the North Korean team, who earned their bid to participate, then qualified for the free program with a personal best skate to the Beatles. Their caliber of performance brought deserved respect and admiration from the skating community.
- For the second night in a row, Italians Valentina Marchei & Ondrej Hotarek entertained the audience with a spirited routine that kept them in character beyond the end of the program. The music was from Amarcord, a 1973 Italian comedy-drama film directed by Federico Fellini.
- The five-time French National Champions, Vanessa James & Morgan Cipres returned to last year’s very popular “The Sound of Silence” by Disturbed free program. They made a gutsy move and went for the quad throw Salchow, but she two-footed the landing. Still, the high base value minus the negative GOE’s, gave them 5.49 points for the element. It was probably worth the try.
- The audience erupted when the final four teams raced out onto the ice for their warm-ups. Six minutes of non-stop lifting, spinning, throwing and jumping drew loud cheers and applause.
- Aljona Savchenko & Bruno Massot of Germany skated first. The seamless program was breathtaking. With the final pose, tears of pure joy and utter exhaustion exploded at center ice. They earned a personal best 159.31 score but had to wait until after the three final skaters before they knew it was golden.
- Canada’s Meagan Duhamel & Eric Radford made history with the first officially recorded Olympic quad throw Salchow. The difficult element gave them the highest base value score and helped secure the bronze medal
- Wenjing Sui & Cong Han of China were at the top of the leader board when the evening began. However, errors on both jumping passes drew negative GOEs that made the color of their medal turn from gold to silver. At the Flower Ceremony, Sui couldn’t hide her disappointment as her eyes welled up with tears.
- Evgenia Tarasova & Vladimir Morozov from the Olympic Athletes from Russia closed the event with a Christina Aguilera and Elvis Presley program. Tarasova & Morozov perform best when they use a more traditional Russian genre. Unfortunate mistakes in their side-by-side jumps and the throw Salchow at the beginning made it a tough hill to climb up to the podium. They finished fourth.
- Ria (Baran) Falk & Paul Falk won Germany’s last Pairs Olympic Gold medal in 1952. They invented the Lasso-Lift and were also the first couple to perform side-by-side double jumps.
- After each of their programs, the final group watched the remaining skaters together and celebrated the results with tears and hugs – some joyous – some sad.
2018 Olympic Champions Aljiona Savchenko & Bruno Massot embrace after their free skate.
Photo by Robin Ritoss
Highlights from Day 6: Wednesday, February 14
With the Team Event already a distant blur, the individual competitions finally got underway on Valentine’s Day with the pairs short programs. Twenty-two couples representing 14 countries began their climb toward the podium. The top 16 teams moved on to tomorrow’s free skate.
- Wenjing Sui & Cong Han of China and Evgenia Tarasova & Vladimir Morozov representing OAR are standing in a virtual tie atop the leaderboard while the third- to ninth-place teams are clustered with less than three points separating them.
- Sui & Han skated 17th and immediately vaulted into first place with a strong technical and charismatic interpretation of K.D. Lang’s “Hallelujah.” The reigning world champions, who didn’t participate in the Team Event, held their position through the remaining competitors. Only Tarasova & Morozov came close and that took a personal best performance to Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 2 to shave the lead to within less than a point.
- After competing in both rounds of the Team Event, Canadians Meagan Duhamel & Eric Radford skated rather tentatively, but are third. While Germany’s Aljona Savchenko & Bruno Massot were expected to vie for a gold medal, they find themselves fourth after Massot did a double Salchow instead of a triple, reducing both the base value and the GOE for that element.
- Both Savchenko & Massot and Tarasova & Morozov earned perfect scores (8.70 points) for their level 4 triple twists.
- Miu Suzaki & Ryuichi Kihara from Japan and Duhamel & Radford both attempted side-by-side triple Lutzes, the most difficult and highest scoring jump in the competition. Neither landed it cleanly, but the Japanese received higher GOEs than the Canadians.
- A highlight of the evening was the quirky performance of “Tu Vuo Fa l’Americano” by Valentina Marchei & Ondrej Hotarek. The Italians used comedic moves and facial expressions to interpret the satiric lyrics of the song, which is about an Italian influenced by the lifestyles of Americans who occupied Italy after World War II.
- Harley Windsor, whose parents are of Aboriginal descent, is competing as the first Indigenous Australian athlete at the Winter Olympics. Windsor and his partner, Ekaterina Alexandrovskaya, are the 2017 Junior World Champions.
- North Korea’s only pair team, Ryom Tae-ok & Kim Ju-sik qualified for the Games by merit at the 2017 Nebelhorn Trophy. The country’s other 20 entrants are by wild card. Their 11th-place finish brought the audience to its feet. It was a shining moment for all who witnessed the performance.
- North Korea’s 230-person, all-female cheerleading squad, wearing white hats with red bands and red ski jackets, entertained the audience with their unified chants and cheers.
- Germany’s Aljona Savchenko is participating in her fifth Olympics with her third partner, representing her second country.
- China’s Hao Zhang is also a five-time Olympian on his third partner, but he has always skated for China.
- The only married couple, Alexa and Chris Knierim from the USA, sealed their Valentine’s Day performance with a sweet kiss at center ice.
Valentina Marchei & Ondrej Hotarek celebrate after a great short program.
Photo by Robin Ritoss
Highlights from Day 5: Tuesday, February 13
There were no figure skating events held today.
Highlights from Day 4: Sunday, February 12
The final night of the Team Event had Canada with a commanding lead after the pairs free programs. Olympic Athletes from Russia were second. The USA, Italy, and Japan followed, with a slim margin of one point between third and fourth places. The gauntlet was thrown down between USA and Italy.
- Teams Canada and Russia used the same man and ice dance competitors, but changed their ladies. Teams USA and Japan kept the ice dancers, but switched off both the man and lady. Team Italy used the same skaters from the men, ladies, and ice dance short programs.
- Team USA’s Mirai Nagasu became just the third woman in history to land a ratified triple axel at the Olympics. Although she has had past issues with under-rotations, all of her jumps were called clean. Representing Japan, Midiro Ito (1992) and Mao Asada (2010) were the other ladies to do the triple axel at the Olympics. Asada did three—one in the short and two in the free program—in Vancouver.
- Alina Zagitova aided Team OAR’s cause by scoring 158.08 points en route to winning the ladies free skate. Zagitova’s free skate was choreographed so that all of her jumps were in the second half of the program, giving her a 10% bonus on each of them.
- Mirai Nagasu’s second-place finish coupled with Carolina Kostner’s fourth-place finish widened the distance between Team USA and Team Italy, while Gabrielle Daleman added eight points to Team Canada’s mounting lead.
- Mikhail Kolyada wanted to make amends for his poor performance in the short program. However, he opened with problems on his first two quad jumps. He rallied after that, though, and earned positive GOEs for the remaining elements. His second place points (9) pushed Team OAR closer to the solidifying the silver medal position.
- Despite problems with the triple axel jumps, Canada’s Patrick Chan was able to capitalize on landing two strong quads, including one in combination. He executed all of his other non-jump elements with positive GOEs to win the men’s free skate portion of the Team Event.
- Matteo Rizzo is the son of Brunhilde Bianchi and Valter Rizzo, former Italian ice dancers and current coaches, who trained Federica Faiella & Massimo Scali. Scali coaches in Marina Zoueva’s group in Canton, Michigan, and is in Pyeongchang.
- Adam Rippon didn’t attempt a quad, but the points earned from his two triple axels and flip combination helped Team USA earn the bronze medal.
- Unfortunately, Kaori Sakamoto and Keiji Tanaka were unable to lift Team Japan out of fifth place.
- Kana Muramoto & Chris Reed of Team Japan started the free dance event. A fall by Reed in the step sequence cost the team valuable points, but they rebounded to strongly finish the second half of the program. The misstep by Reed was the only fall in the entire ice dance portion of the Team Event.
- Team Italy’s Anna Cappellini & Luca Lanotte, known for their story-telling programs, captivated the audience with the somber story of Life is Beautiful.
- Ekaterina Bobrova & Dmitry Soloviev added eight points to Team Russia’s total with a third-place finish. Their program told the story of a blind girl who is actually a character in her partner’s dream.
- Maia & Alex Shibutani’s second-place performance and nine points gave Team USA the final push to secure the bronze ahead of Team Italy.
- Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir cemented Team Canada’s gold medal with a commanding and confident performance to Moulin Rouge. Last to skate, Virtue debuted a new dress in the same burgundy shade as the last one, but with the side cutout silhouette from her popular blue practice dress. This dress is embellished, though, just the right amount for the music choice.
- With the individual ice dance event scheduled to start on February 18, it did seem like some teams may have held back in their performance expression compared to what we will see in a week.
- The final standing for the 2018 Team Event was: Canada (73), Olympic Athletes from Russia (66), USA (62), Italy (56) and Japan (50). The top three teams received their awards at two ceremonies.
- The flower ceremony was held immediately after the competition. Each team member received a white and black stuffed tiger wearing a tiny gold, silver, or bronze hat. The animal is a plush replica of Soohorang, the official mascot of the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Games. They also received a paper flower called an uhsahwa.
- In the evening, the teams were awarded their medals, and “Oh Canada” was played at the outdoor ceremony. In addition to the medals, each competitor received a wooden gift adorned with mountain scenes of Pyeongchang and characters from the Korean Hangui alphabet spelling out “PyeongChang 2018” in the official Games motif.
Team Canada celebrates at the flower ceremony.
Photo by Robin Ritoss
Highlights from Day 3: Saturday, February 11
HIGHLIGHTS FROM DAY 3: SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 11
After taking off a day for the Opening Ceremony, the Team Event continued with the dance and ladies short programs. The order of placement after the first night was: Canada, United States, Japan, Olympic Athletes from Russia, Israel, China, Italy, Germany, South Korea, and France.
- All the dance teams skated the same Rhumba pattern, two different step sequences, a lift, and a set of twizzles.
- The technical specialist was very strict, particularly in the Rhumba pattern.
- In the Rhumba pattern, no dance team received a level 4, and Anna Cappelini & Luca Lanotte earned the only level 3. Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir, Maia & Alex Shibutani, Ekaterina Bobrova & Dmitry Soloviev, Kavita Lorenz & Joti Polizoakis, and Yura Min & Alex Gamelin were awarded level 2. The rest of the competitors got level 1.
- No one earned credit for the first key point of the Rhumba, which is the lady’s steps in the difficult Rhumba choctaw.
- Two-time Olympic medalists Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir topped the leaderboard with an upbeat Latin dance to music by the Rolling Stones, Eagles, and Santana. They were the only team to top 80 points.
- While the Shibutanis’ dance was not technically up to par for them, it was enough to hold off the Russian team of Ekaterina Bobrova & Dmitry Soloviev by .70 and get the nine points awarded to second place.
- Yura Min had a costume malfunction that affected the team’s third twizzle, which reduced the twizzle sequence to level 1 and lowered the score in their Olympic debut representing the host country of South Korea.
- The ladies were the final discipline to skate their short programs, and the audience was loud.
- Russia’s Evgenia Medvedeva was the last to skate, but earned the highest score – 81.06, which was a new world record. Over half her points came from placing all her jumps after the mid-point of the program so she could garner a 10% bonus for each one.
- Carolina Kostner, who turned 31 on the first day of the 2018 Olympics, helped improve Italy’s score with a second-place skate.
- Kaetlyn Osmond added 8 points to help Canada’s lead with a third-place program that had the audience clapping along to Edith Piaf’s classic songs.
- Satoko Miyahara snagged fourth place and seven points by .01 over Bradie Tennell and helped secure Japan’s qualification in the free skate.
- The U.S. National Champion, Bradie Tennell, had the second highest TES—just four points behind Medvedeva. She earned six points for her fifth-place finish.
- South Korea’s Dabin Choi skated a beautiful program and earned a standing ovation from the home audience.
- The first round ended with the following teams qualifying to skate their free programs: Canada (35), Olympic Athletes from Russia (31), United States (29), Japan (26), and Italy (26).
- Later in the evening, the pairs free skate began the second round with Canada’s Meagan Duhamel & Eric Radford claiming the top spot.
- The Italian pairs team of Valentina Marchei & Ondrej Hotarek had an Olympic moment when they nailed every element in their performance and passed their personal best score by 5.5 points. They finished second and, coupled with Kostner’s placement in the ladies short program, vaulted Team Italy into medal contention.
Highlights from Day 2: Friday, February 10
Today brought the Opening Ceremony for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
The Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium is pentagon-shaped. The five sides of the arena represent the Olympic rings.
The Parade of Nations at the Opening Ceremonies included delegations representing 92 different countries and the athletes marched into the Stadium, led traditionally by Greece, then followed by delegations according to the Korean alphabet.
Five skaters were chosen to lead their country’s delegation into the Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium as flag bearers. Ice dancers Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir waved Canada’s flag during their delegation’s entrance, while singles skaters Julian Yee (Malaysia), Alexei Bychenko (Israel), and Moris Kvitelashvili (Georgia) also served in this role for their countries.
Each delegation was joined by a child carrying a candle, which symbolized the lantern that welcomes important guests into the Korean Imperial Court.
The final group to enter the stadium was a unified North and South Korean team of athletes carrying the unification flag. Two members of the mixed North and South Korean women’s hockey team relayed the torch to figure skating Olympic Gold Medalist, Yuna Kim, who lit the cauldron.
The USA has the largest delegation ever to participate in a Winter Olympic Games with 242 athletes. Their jackets had heating elements inside, though the excitement of walking with their teammates may have made those somewhat unnecessary. As luck would have it, the American athletes walked into the stadium to “Gangnam Style” by Psy, a South Korean pop star. The music video for the 2012 hit was the first to reach 1 billion hits on YouTube.
Norway has won the most Winter Olympic medals.
- The unsung heroes of the Opening Ceremony were the dancers assembled in a giant circle in the center of the stadium, who performed ongoing choreography for the duration of the extensive parade.
Malaysia’s Julian Yee carries his country’s flag in the opening ceremonies.
Photo by Robin Ritoss
Highlights from Day 1: Friday, February 9
- The team event got underway with the men’s and pairs short programs. While the men’s event was filled with mistakes as competitors got their Olympic legs under them, the pairs event was nearly the opposite.
- Team Canada has taken the lead based on Meagan Duhamel & Eric Radford’s second-place finish in the pairs short and Patrick Chan landing in third.
- Team USA is in second after fourth-place finishes from Alexa Scimeca Knierim & Chris Knierim and Nathan Chen. The Knierims skated one of their best performances to-date, while Chen made several mistakes and finished lower than expected.
- There is a tie between the teams from Japan and Olympic Athletes of Russia (OAR). Shoma Uno won the men’s short program and, coupled with an eighth-place finish from Miu Suzaki & Ryuichi Kihara, he helped secure a third-place standing for Team Japan. Evgenia Tarasova & Vladimir Morozov won the pairs short and helped Team OAR rebound after an uncharacteristically poor skate from Mikhail Kolyada, who finished eighth in the men’s short.
- Other performances of note include Israel’s Alexei Bychenko (who finished second in the men’s short and was not shown on TV in the United States), Matteo Rizzo of Italy, and Junhwan Cha of South Korea.
Alexa Scimeca Knierim & Chris Knierim (USA)
Photo by Robin Ritoss