Highlights from the 2017-2018 Figure Skating Season
From odds-defying Olympic triumphs to the making of history by multiple junior ladies, the biggest stories from the past skating season.
The 2018 figure skating season is now ended. It concluded last week with the World Championships in Milan, which Ani and I were lucky enough to be present for in person. That meant no recaps here on the blog, but we did live-tweet all the events.
During an Olympic season, of course, the biggest competition is the Games. But even outside that, there were all the normal competitions, enough to give most skaters highs and lows. There were those for whom the season was a struggle to make the Olympics, and those from smaller nations who didn’t have to worry about that once they’d earned their country a berth. There were those for whom the smaller competitions were nothing, and those for whom they were everything.
There were breathtaking performances, and quite a few ugly ones. There were falling men, Russian ladies, unpredictable pairs, and brilliant ice dance. There was a doping scandal that engulfed the Olympics, and in the end, punished the wrong people the most, including two skaters who may have not done anything wrong. There were other stories the world paid the most attention to, including that of a pairs team from North Korea whose presence in PyeongChang was a huge deal, both politically and emotionally. They made history for their country by winning bronze at the Four Continents Championships too:
Other highlights of the season:
Aliona Savchenko & Bruno Massot proving good enough to win all three big competitions, including a comeback win for the Olympic gold she’s spent well over a decade trying to get:
Nathan Chen following up a disastrous Olympic short with first a knockout Olympic long, and then two strong programs at Worlds to win the title when none of the other top skaters could skate a decent long, and even coming close to landing six quads at both events:
Yuzuru Hanyu skating through a bad ankle injury to become the first Olympic champion to repeat in twenty years, and the first man since Dick Button:
Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir and Gabriella Papadakis & Guillaume Cizeron driving each other to get even more ridiculously good, with Papadakis & Cizeron even coming up with their best free dance yet:
American ice dance also reaping the benefits of a fierce race, with Maia & Alex Shibutani delighting the world and winning two Olympic bronzes, and Madison Hubbell & Zachary Donohue claiming their first National title and World medal:
Alexandra Trusova landing TWO quads en route to the Junior World title:
The current Russian up and coming ladies in general, with Polina Tsurskaya getting a medal in her senior Grand Prix debut, and the new juniors including both Trusova and talented artist Alena Kostornaia:
Adam Rippon coming back from a broken foot, and skating well enough to make the Olympic team, there to make history and earn the love of much of the country:
Javier Fernandez, four years after losing an Olympic medal to a Zayak violation, finally getting one to make history for Spain:
Mirai Nagasu making it back to the Olympics after eight years, and then landing a completely clean triple axel in international competition for the first time there to help the U.S. win team bronze:
The Canadians charging their way to the Olympic team gold, with Eric Radford becoming the first openly gay male athlete to win gold at the Winter Olympics in the process, then going on to get what was almost their best possible results in the individual events with three more medals:
Kaori Sakamoto breaking onto the Japanese scene with her skating newly up a level, shocking for the Olympic team and the Four Continents win:
Wakaba Higuchi moving past the disappointment of not making the Olympic team to be the most surprising World medalist, and Satoko Miyahara bouncing back from a disappointing result or two to also make the podium:
Rika Kihira becoming the first woman to landing a triple axel-triple toe at the Junior Grand Prix Final, and even landing a triple axel-triple toe-double toe at Japanese Junior Nationals:
And Misha Ge, at his final Grand Prix event, surprising to come away with a medal:
Lowlights: Men’s skating in general, the Grand Prix in general, the IOC banning two Russian skaters from the Olympics without allegations for them to dispute or any explanation at all, even as those more guilty in the doping scandal went largely unpunished, an injury hindering Evgenia Medvedeva just enough to make her lose to an overscored kid in a tutu, the big Olympic ice dance battle getting decided by a wardrobe malfunction, Ashley Wagner being lowballed off the Olympic team and Jason Brown not making it either, all the people who dropped out of Worlds, too many of them due to injury, Italy just missing the podium for two events at their home Worlds, the painful senior debut season of Marin Honda, the struggles of three Canadian pairs, which Meagan Duhamel & Eric Radford recovered from in time, but Julianne Seguin & Charlie Bilodeau and especially Lubov Ilyuschechkina & Dylan Moscovitch didn’t, the final descents of Han Yan and Zijun Li that ended their careers, the possible final descent of Denis Ten, culminating in the failure to make the Olympic free skate four years after he medaled, would-be Junior Worlds men’s winner Alexei Krasnozhon ending up in the hospital after a bad opening quad, there only being sixteen pairs in the free skate exacting a harsh price on the pairs at the Olympics and Worlds, and China, Canada, and the U.S. all losing a pairs berth for next year’s Worlds!