Skating Highlights of the Week: Mostly Fantasia on Ice
New skating show in Korea; one last competition in Russia.
This week actually saw the very last ISU-approved international skating competition of the 2018 Olympic season in France, but that was only for Novice skaters and lower. Slight more worth looking at was another season-closing competition in Russia, but that one was weaker than even the small competitions that came right before it.
Instead, the eyes of the skating world turned once again towards Korea. Since their legend Yu-Na Kim broke through a dozen years ago, the country has been on the skating mad side. They embraced not only her, but also top foreign skaters, who, when they came there to compete or just perform were stunned to find themselves having rock star status. There weren’t very many skaters in the country a decade and a half ago, but now all the little kids she inspired are growing up, and the sport’s developing. So far there’s no successor who’s even near her level, but there are a number who have managed pretty decent showings internationally.
Another legacy she left behind is ice shows. All That Skate, the show she set up, will be having another edition next month, and other shows have also appeared for Korean skating fans to flock to. One show that hopes to follow in its wake was the main skating event of this week.
LG ThinkQ Ice Fantasia
Ice Fantasia premiered this week in Seoul, with multiple performances over the weekend. It’s a new ice show this year, produced partly by the newly retired Misha Ge, who also performed in it. Korean TV broadcast all of the first half and part of the second of the Saturday performance, and there are also fan recordings from Saturday and Sunday both.
Jun-Hwan Cha, Korea’s rising star, reminded everyone of how great he is with a rendition of his free program to Il Postino, which he’s used both the last two seasons.
For good measure, he also grooved out the Shawn Mendes.
However, his elder, Jin-Seo Kim, out-dramatized him, when skating to “Never,” a breakout hit from a Korean music reality show.
Also present were Korea’s ice dance team, Yura Min & Alexander Gamelin, who enlisted several castmates to play Super Mario Brothers with them.
The main group number was another KPop one, to music from boyband BTS, where a band of skating boys got to have fun.
The cast included a handful of Olympic champions, including recent ones Aliona Savchenko & Bruno Massot, who performed this strange but moving number.
With the skaters all doing two numbers, Cha wasn’t the only one who did one of his competitive programs. Evgenia Medvedeva brought Anna Karenina back to its show roots.
Gabrielle Daleman’s strong skating makes Whitney Houston a good match for her, and while she didn’t find her jumps in this performance, she did find a surprising amount of delicacy.
Ge happens to currently be doing a BTS number of his own at skating shows, which naturally he broke out here.
Vincent Zhou did his new show number, choreographed by Joshua Farris, a former rising star whose life was badly derailed by multiple concussions, and is now recovering with extensive therapy. It’s good just to see his work out on the ice.
One of Tatiana Volosozhar & Maxim Trankov’s programs was overly bizarre, but they also did a sweet “Prayer” program that also happened to be Celine Dion-free.
Vladimir Besedin & Oleksiy Poloshchuk brought a more mild Russian bizarreness, as well as the comedy and spectacular tricks they’re known for doing.
Prizes of the President of the Federation of Figure Skating in Moscow
A week after St. Petersburg’s federation held their Prizes competition, Moscow’s federation held theirs. This was not the strongest event. The fields were not very good in the first place, and not all the skaters that were there delivered.
None of the five senior men, for instance, skated that impressive a short program. But winner Egor Rukhin was stronger in the free. If his program remains in imitation of someone else’s (though Il Postino has been a common music choice since the movie came out), that’s common enough among skaters of his level of development.
The top-ranked of the six senior ladies wasn’t even supposed to skate here. Alena Kostornaia came in when another girl withdrew, and thus was without her costume or her top quality. She did land a triple lutz-triple loop jump combination, though, which is a step up for her technically, and was solid enough to win the segment. She apparently was not up to skating her free, instead withdrawing.
With Kostornaia out, Anna Scherbakova, who had been right behind her, distanced the other four remaining ladies with a much better free than she put out two weeks ago. Although she didn’t try her quad, and didn’t land the triple lutz-triple loop, she still impressed with the sheer technique of her elements, and she’s starting to develop character as well.
Local Moscow events don’t always have proper results pages. There are protocol sheets, though, for those willing to navigate pages and pages of Cyrillic.