by Adelaide Ponte Usdin and Wendy Ponte
We took yesterday off! We saw no events, entered no trains, and just stayed in our hotel complex. Adelaide did homework, we worked out (it’s funny that the towels are tiny and you just get one tiny bar of soap, but they have a nice fitness centers with two dedicated trainers who will work with you for free), and we watched the Final Pairs event from a restaurant in the hotel complex.
It’s weird for us to see all kinds of people, young and old, male and female, glued to the screen when skating is going on. There is a true love and appreciation for skating here that we wish was more present in the United States.
Today we walked to the Olympic Park and back into the Russian Regional Districts building, intending to finish looking at the part we didn’t see the other day, but we didn’t get very far!
We came upon a woman creating belts and other woven items, such as bracelets and earrings, and she was teaching people how to do this craft. Anyone who knows Wendy knows that she is a sucker for any and all fiber arts, and she told Adelaide that she needed to sit down and learn something new in order to organize her befuddled brain.
This craft is actually called a “Hungarian Belt,” because it originated in that country. The smaller woven strands come from mid-Russia, and they reminded us of friendship bracelets, or those lanyards that everyone in summer camp learns how to make as children in the U.S. The construction of them, however, is easier to learn and immediately satisfying. We both made things!
We went off to the Men’s Short Program skating at the Ice Palace, unprepared for what a dramatic event we were about to witness!
Wendy was all set to take a video of Russian fans going crazy when Evgeny Plushenko came on. Instead, we watched him do a warm-up with minimal jumps. He was first to skate in his group. He talked to his coach and then skated over to the Referee. It was announced that he was withdrawing due to injury.
Shortly after that, Jeremy Abbott stepped on the ice, looking calm and ready to skate. He did his first quad and crashed heavily into the boards, not 25 feet away from where we sat. He just lay there, for what seemed like forever. We watched his coach, Yuko Sato, run over to the gate and peer around it, moments away from going to him. Then he lifted one arm up, as if to pull himself up, and then got up, and completed his program perfectly. We were both screaming, along with everyone else, in a mixture of angst and joy.
There were some amazing skates, that’s for sure. Most notably, of course, was Yuzuru Hanyu’s program. He beat his own Season’s Best and scored over 101 points. He’s fantastic, but we still like Patrick Chan’s work for the level of sophistication and detailed moves even better. He came in second tonight.
It seems like Jason Brown always skates perfectly. He bites off exactly what he can chew and does it with finesse. He doesn’t have a quad yet, but still managed to place 6th because every move is detailed and practiced to the ultimate degree. Who knows what can happen in the long?
We were seated very close to the Kiss and Cry area and we loved watching how some women respond to certain skaters, notably Brian Joubert and Daisuke Takahashi. In fact, we have never seen so many bouquets anywhere, not even in the Korean flower shops in Park Slope, Brooklyn, where we used to live, as landed on the ice at the end of Takahashi’s skate!
We really liked one young skater, Michael Christian Martinez, a skater from the Philippines –in fact the only skater from the Philippines to ever to attend the Olympics. He is only 17, and if he keeps going like this, may make a real impression at the next games. He is coached by Ilia Kulik, the former Gold Medalist from Russia, in California. He did a classic Kulik move, the spread eagle, with an inside edge, but leaning backwards, with grace.
The long program is going to be interesting, that’s all we can say!
Oh, and when we got back to our room, we found that someone had put a shower curtain in our bathroom! It’s the little things….