Skating Highlights of the Week: Two Legends Return
Midori Ito and Yu-Na Kim skate for a first time in a while as the world gets a look at three different ice shows.
It’s been an eventful couple of weeks in the skating world. Mostly because of the flurry of coaching changes that happened this May, mostly Russian, but not all. That didn’t mean the show season stopped. In fact, we have a number of videos available this week of performances done a bit earlier than that. Though there was one major ice show this weekend, which brought with it the return of a legend.
But she wasn’t the only one providing us with a rare skate this weekend, and the other was even more incredible. The very first events of the 2018-2019 season are starting, and those more or less include the annual event in Odertsdorf for adult skating. The skaters here are older than those who compete at the elite level, too much so to do the fancy tricks one sees at the Olympics, and many of them only started skating as adults. It’s also hardly unknown for skaters who once competed among the elites to return to the ice here.
Much more unusual is for someone who’s won a world title and an Olympic medal to do it. But a few years ago, Midori Ito, who’d won the first in 1989 and the second in 1992, decided she shouldn’t have to forego a return to competition just because she’s in her forties. She’s competed in Obertsdorf multiple times, and she showed up this year:
Her event was the Master Ladies Elite II, where skaters are judged purely on their presentation. She’s right at home here, and while she’s hasn’t won all the events in Odertsdorf she’s entered, this win was easy. Especially since there was only one other competitor. Obertsdorf has over a hundred competitions, but many of them have very small fields.
All That Skate
The other skating legend has only been off the ice for four years, during which she’s continued to produce her annual All That Skate show in Korea. It was there, this year, that Yu-Na Kim chose to come back and perform once again. The show hasn’t been televised yet, but there are plenty of audience videos up.
Like Ito, Kim didn’t do any jumps this weekend, but she never needed them. Not when she can still turn the act of skating itself into an art.
With their Stars on Ice tour having just concluded, much of the cast was Canadian. That included Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir, who brought their Olympic gold-winning free dance back to Korea.
Gabriella Papadakis & Guillaume Cizeron were also on hand to turn up the heat, while maybe paying a little tribute to one of their coaches’ more beloved show programs.
The Koreans love Jeffrey Buttle, and he’s quite happy to pump them up.
And everyone loves Stephane Lambiel, especially when he starts spinning.
The show featured plenty of Korean skaters, but Da-Bin Choi was the only one to do two full numbers. Although she enlisted June-Hyoung Lee in the effort to put on the best show we’ve ever seen out of her in one of them.
Patrick Chan set to work trying to match Buttle in energy, artistry, and audience screams. They both got good results.
Kaetlyn Osmond showed herself to be a match for her talented countrymen emotionally.
Meagan Duhamel & Eric Radford were the ones who brought the harder tricks, including the one only they do.
Young character skater Young You did her take on Chicago.
In his solo number, Lee continued to be both dapper and vaguely dangerous.
Prince Ice World
Asian TV did televise one ice show this weekend: Prince Ice World, which has been traveling around Japan since the beginning of the month. The tour has featured plenty of Japan’s best skaters, and through it we’ve even gotten the first major program debut for next season.
This was the most remarkable performance of the weekend. Tatsuki Machida, skating for nearly eight minutes, doing a bunch of jumps in a row three minutes in, making unusual use of light and sound, and if it’s impossible to eclipse Jayne Torvill & Christopher Dean’s use of this music, he’s still come the closest.
Wakaba Higuchi settled for five and a half minutes of Michael Jackson, but still keeps a strong level of intensity up through her new show program.
Shoma Uno has two new show numbers this summer, one of them making plenty of use of old school music before Frank Sinatra.
While others debuted new show programs, Rika Hongo debuted her next short program for next season, to the theme from Kill Bill. If she wants to have a better season than her last two, she’ll probably want to be a little more aggressive with the skating and stronger with the jumps when the season actually begins, but this looks good enough for a start.
We shall not escape “This is Me.” It saw use at both All That Skate and Prince Ice World. At the latter, it was part of far too much use of The Greatest Showman in general. But amid all that, Miki Ando probably does the best with it we’ve seen yet.
Ando wasn’t the only one getting background dancers in. Takahiko Kozuka got both men and ladies to dance with him.
The year of Moulin Rouge has not ended yet. In fact, “Sparkling Diamonds” was another song that saw use in both Korea and Japan. But Kanako Murakami threw in more music afterwards to *really* get herself going.
Kazuki Tomono took weird Daft Punk covering to its logical conclusion.
Florence Ice Gala
Sometimes even fanvideos can take a few days. The second annual Florence Ice Gala took place last weekend, and the videos arrived on YouTube early in the week. It wasn’t the biggest show, but it did have some huge names attached.
The biggest was Evgeni Plushenko. His “Tango Amore” went over so well he did part of it again as an encore-with a three-jump.
The local audience also got the best of their own: Carolina Kostner, showing her stuff with her short program.
Since last week’s coaching announcement, Aliona Savchenko has clarified her & Bruno Massot’s plans a bit: he’s soon to go on paternity leave, so she’s found something else to do, but they’re not ruling out returning to competition later. They’ve also got plenty of shows to do this summer first. The day before the announcement in Florence, they were doing all the comedy they could fit into a routine.
In his comic number, Ivan Righini had to pull out all the stops to keep the attention on himself.
Plushenko’s student Serafima Sakhanovich went for a more understated lightness.
Daniel Grassl, a young man to watch for the next quaddrennium, skated to modern Italian composer Ezio Bosso.