April 27, 2011

Firstly, congratulations must be given to the organization committee. You would never know the Russian Skating Federation had less than a month to put this competition together. Nothing has been skimped on, right down to the design of banners, official merchandise, and even a mascot. Even the weather is putting on a great show!

A dedication to the people of Japan made the Opening Ceremonies very moving. It was a nice touch.

In the first three days of competition, it is already clear that there has been a changing of the guard. Particularly in the men’s short, ladies and dance preliminary (qualifying) free skates, a lot of new talents are emerging. Watch for skaters like France’s Mae Berenice Meite and Russia’s Arthur Gachinski to make their marks.

One illusion has to be reconsidered, however. The male pairs partners aren’t that tall. Being 5’7″ myself, they’re my height or perhaps several inches taller at the most. Having said that, their female counterparts are like dolls. Most of them can’t be over five feet.

It is quite clear this is a knowledgeable audience. When identities like Evgeny Plushenko, Tamara Moskvina, and Tatiana Tarasova were shown on the Jumbotron, there were huge cheers and appreciative bursts of applause. Further putting the magnitude of this event in perspective, Tracy Wilson from Canada is doing commentary mere feet from where I am tweeting for aussieSKATES!

 

Attendance is up from the first two days, and full houses are expected later in the week, particularly for all of the free skating finals. You can really feel the electricity in the building already. The cheers for Tatiana Volosozhar & Maxim Trankov’s faultless pairs short program performance made this like a soccer match. They are clearly a new force to be reckoned with. I can only imagine what it will be like when rock stars like Yu-Na Kim and Mao Asada get to skate!

 

The first medal for bravery of the week goes to Eric Radford, the Canadian pairs partner of Meagan Duhamel. He took a nasty whack on the nose catching her during the split triple Lutz lift. With blood dripping, he kept going, and it was only upon the conclusion of their skate that the crowd knew what had happened. Backstage, their team doctor had to re-set his broken nose. What a hero for continuing under such difficult circumstances!

Finally, if you ever get the chance to visit beautiful Moscow, please do. Don’t let the obvious language barrier put you off. The people couldn’t be friendlier, patient or more helpful, and the historically significant architecture has to be seen to be believed.

Stay tuned.