Johnny Weir ranks Yuzuru Hanyu’s record skates with 4 historic performances

Johnny Weir
Getty Images
0 Comments

NEW YORK — Johnny Weir said Yuzuru Hanyu‘s record-breaking win at NHK Trophy in Japan last weekend was “one of those things that will stay forever.”

The Olympic champion Hanyu posted the highest short program and free skate scores under the decade-old system that replaced the 6.0 scale. His total score of 322.40 points smashed Patrick Chan‘s previous record by 27.13.

Weir, speaking at the Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park tree lighting ceremony on Tuesday, ranked Hanyu’s performance with four of his favorite all-time skates.

“It was a moment in time,” Weir said. “I don’t know how long it’ll take for someone to even come close to that score.”

Here are the four performances Weir grouped with Hanyu’s record:

Michelle Kwan‘s short program and free skate at the 1998 U.S. Championships.

Kwan regained her U.S. crown from Tara Lipinski after coming back from a broken toe with skating that reportedly left at least one judge in tears. Seven of nine judges awarded her perfect 6.0s in presentation for the short, and eight of nine did so for the free skate.

Kwan captured the second of her nine U.S. titles and would go on to take Olympic silver behind Lipinski in Nagano one month later and then bronze at Salt Lake City 2002.

Yevgeny Plushenko‘s free skate at the 2002 Olympics.

The Russian fell in his Olympic debut in the short program, putting him in fourth going into the free skate. Unable to control his own destiny for a gold medal, Plushenko nonetheless skated brilliantly, landing two quadruple jumps, including a quad-triple-triple combination, stepping out of the landing on the last jump.

He was beaten by only Yagudin in the free skate and earned silver behind the countryman with whom he formerly shared a coach. Plushenko was only 19 and embarking on a career that would include Olympic medals at the next three Winter Games.

Irina Slutskaya‘s short program and free skate at the 2000 World Championships and free skate at the 2005 World Championships.

Slutskaya almost gave the sport up after failing to make the Russian team for the 1999 World Championships, one year after taking Worlds silver. She came back strong for 1999-2000, however, sweeping the Russian Championship, Russian Grand Prix, Grand Prix Final and European Championship. She took silver behind an exquisite Kwan at Worlds in Nice, France.

In 2004-05, Slutskaya came back from a lengthy hospital stay due to a heart condition to win a World title at home in Moscow. The previous two years, she had pulled out before the 2003 Worlds due to her mother falling ill and then finished ninth at the 2004 Worlds before the hospitalization.

MORE FIGURE SKATING: Nancy Kerrigan finds new passion

*Correction: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that Yevgeny Plushenko won gold medals at the last three Olympics. He won silver in 2010.

Japanese pair edges Americans for historic Grand Prix Final figure skating title

Riku Miura, Ryuichi Kihara
Getty
0 Comments

Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara won the biggest title ever for a Japanese figure skating pair, taking the Grand Prix Final and consolidating their status as the world’s top active team.

Miura and Kihara, last season’s world silver medalists, barely outscored world champions Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier in Turin, Italy, in both Thursday’s short program and Friday’s free skate to win the six-pair event that is a preview of March’s worlds.

The Japanese totaled 214.58 points, distancing the Americans by a mere 1.3 points after Frazier erred on both of their side-by-side jumping passes in the free skate. Italians Sara Conti and Niccolo Macii took bronze.

“We had a very late start to our season than initially planned, so as we have been performing at each event, I see us getting stronger, improving things,” said Frazier, who with Knierim had their best short program and free skate scores of the autumn.

Knierim and Frazier didn’t decide to continue competing together this season until July.

“I feel a little personally disappointed tonight just for myself for my jumps,” Frazier continued. “I was a little all over the place and, normally, I can execute better, so I feel a little bad, but I’m very proud of us overall. We’ve done a great job of improving each competition and looking forward to the second half of the season where we can start tapping into our best skating.”

GRAND PRIX FINAL: Results | Broadcast Schedule

Miura and Kihara, who partnered in June 2019 and train in Ontario, both waited with trepidation for their final score to be posted, worried that each’s separate mistake on jumps might cost them the title. When they learned they won, both burst into tears.

“This was the first time in eight years that I made a mistake with a Salchow, so I thought we might not get a good score, and it would be my fault,” Kihara said.

Miura and Kihara entered the competition ranked No. 1 in the world by best scores this season ahead of Knierim and Frazier, who in March became the first U.S. pair to win a world title since 1979.

Last season, Miura and Kihara became the second Japanese pair to make a Grand Prix podium and to earn a world championships medal. Their ascension helped Japan win its first Olympic figure skating team event medal in February (a bronze that could be upgraded to gold pending the Kamila Valiyeva case).

In Grand Prix Final history, Japan had won 11 gold medals and 40 total medals, all in singles, before this breakthrough.

Knierim and Frazier, already the first U.S. pair to compete in the Grand Prix Final since 2015, became the first U.S. pair to win a Grand Prix Final medal. The Final has been held annually since 1996, though it was canceled the last two seasons due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Miura and Kihara and Knierim and Frazier ascended to the top of the sport while the top five teams from the Olympics from Russia and China have not competed internationally since the Winter Games.

All Russian skaters are ineligible for international competition due to the war in Ukraine. China’s pairs, including Olympic champions Sui Wenjing and Han Cong, didn’t enter last March’s worlds and did not compete in the fall Grand Prix Series.

Later Friday, world champion Kaori Sakamoto of Japan led the women’s short program with 75.86 points, 1.28 ahead of countrywoman Mai Mihara. American Isabeau Levito, the 15-year-old world junior champion, was fifth of six skaters in her Grand Prix Final debut.

Canadians Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier topped the rhythm dance with 85.93 points, edging Americans Madison Chock and Evan Bates by .44. Both couples are bidding for the biggest international title of their careers. None of the Olympic medalists competed internationally this fall.

The Grand Prix Final ends Saturday with the men’s and women’s free skates and free dance, all live on Peacock.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

A Winter Olympic medal still being decided, 10 months later

Fanny Smith, Daniela Maier
It's still unknown whether Fanny Smith (green) or Daniela Maier (blue) is the Olympic ski cross bronze medalist. (Getty)
0 Comments

There is a second Winter Olympic medal result still in question, 10 months after the Games.

While the figure skating team event results are still unknown due to the Kamila Valiyeva case, the bronze medal in women’s ski cross is also in dispute.

Originally, Swiss Fanny Smith crossed the finish line in third place in the four-woman final at the Winter Games in February. Upon review by the International Ski Federation (FIS) jury, she was minutes later demoted to fourth place after making contact with German Daniela Maier near the end of the course. Maier, who originally was fourth, was upgraded to bronze.

“I tried to be OK with the fourth place. I was very disappointed, I have to say, [then] the jury was like this,” Maier said then. “I am really sorry for Fanny that it’s like this right now. … The jury decided like this, so accept it and be happy with the medal.”

Smith and the Swiss ski federation appealed. FIS reinstated Smith as the bronze medalist nine days after the race and six days after the Closing Ceremony. A FIS appeals commission met four times and reviewed video and written documentation for several hours before deciding that “the close proximity of the racers at that moment resulted in action that was neither intentional or avoidable.”

But that wasn’t the end. The case ended up reportedly going to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), whose rulings are usually accepted as final. The CAS process is ongoing, European media reported this week.

CAS has not responded to a request for comment. A FIS contact said Friday, “There is currently no update to provide in regards to the bronze medal in ski cross. Should there be any update, we will inform you.”

Smith said there should be news soon regarding the case, according to Blick.

Maier still has the bronze medal at her home and enjoys looking at it, according to German media, which also reported that the German ski federation expects Maier to win the case and keep the medal. Smith and Maier spoke extensively about it in recent training sessions and cleared things up. Maier said the best outcome would be bronze medals for both of them, according to the report.

For now, FIS lists Smith as the bronze medalist. The IOC lists Maier as the bronze medalist.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!