February 16, 2014

A Skater's (Any GOOD Skater's) Sochi Moment


Do you sometimes feel as if all the figure skating sportscaster coverage at the Sochi Olympics could be merged into one?  Except for the rare brilliance, trip or crash, the skating commentary is becoming auditory blur. Tom Hammond, Scott Hamilton and Sandra Bezic, the once-venerable threesome, sound like they are reading from the same playbook. (And can we mention briefly ... could they just shut up sometimes and let us watch the skating instead of yapping through every leap and jump?)

In "A Skater's (Any GOOD Skater's) Sochi Moment," or "Конькобежец в Сочи Момент (Любой хороший фигуриста)," "he" can be replaced with "she." If you change it to the plural pronoun "they," and adjust the verbs accordingly, the coverage is the same for pairs as well. I'm all over it in this piece.

"S/He has been" (or "They have been") cool and composed throughout the week at the Sochi 2014 Olympics. Here he comes out onto the ice. The crowd welcomes him with applause and his selection of music amps up. We’re not sure of the Prince connection, but there he goes into the center of the ice.

This skater has a broad jump unlike other competitors; how he connects with the audience, by extension with the judges.  

There’s anticipation that he’s going to give us something special with this performance. Easy double-Axel to build the ice, the crowd, the lighting, and there he goes with a triple Axel.  Niiiiice. It’s the best I’ve ever seen him do.  At other competitions, he’s captured the audience with this next move.  He landed it!  He was a little two-foot on it, but he owns the footwork on this part of program. Listen to the crowd cheering him on. The ice is his!  He’s got ‘em.  Look at that height! He’s on fire.  This is pure entertainment. He’s just skating so well tonight. 

Here comes his combination triple Lutz, then triple toe … beautiful.  So much speed. So much space in the air … look at how much ice he covered. Sitting over the edge for the triple-loop, and now into one of the most difficult jumps, the double-Axel. You can see the choreography to connect those jumps. Everything landed on one foot. He’s skating like a champion.

Next on his program comes a big combination: he keeps the double-Axel first so that he can flow into the triple-toe loop. Perfect.  He’s had fire in his eyes all week. Attacking the ice … just like that. 

Here comes another double-toe and double loop. Beautifully landed again.  So much grace. Oops, a little trip there. He seems to be taking a little break to catch his breath. He’s determined and it’s almost like he’s conserving energy for each jump. And here comes another triple-flip.

This program shows a mature side of his skating that is way beyond his years. You can almost hear a pin drop in this whole arena while he did that.  There’s so much relief with the triple-flip behind him.  And what’s impressive is that he just switched his program.  Not a lot of time to do it, but his coaches encouraged it. 

Technically, he’s skating brilliantly.  He moved to Moscow with his mother when he was three years old to learn to skate … just like we’re seeing in his performance now.

This is the camel spin that is his forte. He spins like no other. The move is based on the classic arabesque position from ballet. He looks like a spiral … look at his upper body and the free leg … horizontal to the ice. Beautifully arched back, head is up. Just gorgeous.

And there he goes immediately back into a triple Lutz. He’s airborne … and he’s landed!

Here comes the triple Salchow. There’s a massive difference between the edge jump and a toe jump. But he does it! And notice that what sets jumps apart from one another are how they start.

This skater completely shuts down the building with this next move. He immediately goes into … what is he doing? Another triple! There’s standing ovation. The audience wanted to stand two minutes ago. This skater is so special. He understands the power of his performance in Sochi tonight.  And don’t you love the contrast of the jumps and the artistry? There’s room for the entertainer and the artist and the athlete, all at the same time. He’s got it all.

He has to leap the ice one more time. Double Axel! His smile shows that he knows he nailed it. The fans are on their feet again. This skater clearly has a connection with the audience from the moment he stepped onto the ice. They love him.

He’s worked so hard to skate on Olympic ice. He was third place after the short, but now look at him. This is the skate he’s dreamed of and he’s enjoying every minute of it.

Certainly, we’ll be seeing this athlete stand high on the podium after scoring his seasonal best. He’s going home with a gold medal from Sochi. This was the Olympic moment he ...  and we ... have been waiting for. 


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