Ice Network

Tapas Grandes: Uno, Yamamoto delve into details

Yuzu sees, Javy feels; Smirnov skates alone; Bilodeau's 'stache (cont.)
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Shoma Uno (right) and Sota Yamamoto took pleasure in analyzing the protocols from the junior men's free skate. -Getty Images

Jean-Christophe Berlot catches junior men's medalists Shoma Uno and Sota Yamamoto in a playful moment and provides the latest on Charlie Bilodeau's mustache.

Japanese brothers

The press conference room is a huge room opening to the sea. Its size makes it rather impressive at first, and one usually assumes a dignified attitude as one enters it. Chairs are perfectly placed in clear rows, dictating the discipline and order that prevail in the place. After the senior short dance Friday night, as journalists, photographers and the three top teams were going to assemble for a 30-minute update, the first to enter the room received somewhat of a surprise: Two Japanese boys were laying side by side, on a scene placed there for photographers and TV crews. They looked like two buddies laying on their bellies and playing a video game. Uno and Yamamoto, the top two men in the junior Final, were simply watching the detailed results sheet of their own competition, analyzing the Grades of Execution and components as if they were alone in the world. Who said that figure skating's protocol sheets were esoteric, and could not also be a fun game to play?

Yuzu's tablet

When you watch one of Yuzuru Hanyu's practice sessions, you will see him go to the boards from time to time -- not for drinking water or blowing his nose but to look for a computer tablet. "Yuzu is a visual skater," his coach, Brian Orser, explained. "He needs to see. So when one of his jumps is not good, he comes to see the tablet. Then we analyze to see where his error was. Yuzuru has several versions of his (good) jumps on file, so he can refer to them when he needs to." Who says that Hanyu is not programmed to win?

…and Fernández' feelings

What about Javier Fernández, Orser's other protégé? "By contrast, Javier is more into the feeling. Javier has to feel things; Yuzuru has to see things," Orser offered. Who says that Fernández does not have a feel for winning?

Caring for and respecting one's tool

Japan's Tatsuki Machida has a unique habit: As he leaves the ice after a competition or practice session, he always takes the time to touch the ice before going to the kiss and cry or the dressing room. "I am just thanking the ice," he said with a smile. When you think of those billion ice crystals that make the ice a human possibility…

Half pair

The senior pairs had a day off Friday, between their short and free programs. They, nonetheless, had a practice session in the morning. Russia's Alexander Smirnov arrived alone on the ice. He landed a few jumps, and then left when the time of his music came. "Yuko was so mad after yesterday's skate that she preferred to take a full day off," explained Tamara Moskvina, who coaches the team in St. Petersburg. Good luck, Yuko! You were not at the rink to see it, but a single partner skating by himself is not the best skating has to offer. "No one is irreplaceable" may be a common saying, but in pairs skating, it's the opposite: As French poet Lamartine once wrote, "One single being is missing and the earth is de-peopled."

A new invention: The skating rink Japanese barometer

The press seats are located high in the stands in Barcelona (as usual...this must be to give journalists the opportunity to exercise more and get a higher perspective on the events!). There are far fewer positions than there are journalists (also as usual...this must be to place journalists in the mood of the competitive spirit!). At the start of the men's short program Friday night, the press seats were completely packed. As soon as Hanyu successfully ended his performance, those seats witnessed a general migration: Most Japanese journalists (30-40) left and rushed to the mixed zone. The pressure in the press seats had dropped in just a matter of seconds. If you want to take out a patent on a device that measures this volatile force, you may -- it's still free. You just need a skating rink to make it run!

Bilodeau's mustache, if you want to know the end (for now) of the story

You may remember that Canada's Charlie Bilodeau, who won the pairs title with his partner, Julianne Séguin, had encountered instant success not only for the team's skate but also for the (real) mustache he was wearing during the short program. Well, as he had advised icenetwork one day earlier, the mustache was gone for the team's free program. "One of the main characters in The Grand Hotel Budapest movie wears a huge mustache," Bilodeau emphasized during the post-event press conference, "So I let it grow for the purpose of that short program only, and I cut it right after." "Yes, but…" a veteran female reporter asked him: "I have no idea of how long it takes to grow a mustache, but if I may ask, when do you plan to start letting it grow again for your next competition?" The journalists and photographers erupted in laughter. "Maybe in January?" Bilodeau suggested, also laughing. How Séguin and Bilodeau would be able to skate to the same Grand Hotel Budapest in the free still remains to be clarified, however. Bilodeau's mustache would have to be there for the free but not for the short one day earlier.