Ice Network

Le Cru du Jour: No one harmed in Bordeaux

Attendees assure loved ones that they are safe from violence in Paris
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There was an outpouring of grief among those in attendance at Trophée Eric Bompard in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris on Friday night. -Getty Images

Everyone is safe in Bordeaux

"This is terrible. We are so sorry for you and France," were the first words heard early Saturday morning at the rink in Bordeaux. Moms and chaperones were watching the early morning ladies practice. They were so compassionate toward the host country of Trophée Eric Bompard. Skaters and team members of all nationalities could reassure their families and friends abroad during the night: Bordeaux is about 300 miles away from the capital city of France. Thank you all for your kind and most welcome support.

Looking at the ice and watching the ladies practicing their hearts out, one couldn't help thinking that the beauty of skating was a true gift to peace, mutual understanding and humanity at its best.

ISU, French federation want to continue

Word spread fast Saturday morning as the practice sessions started. 

"The French authorities may decide to cancel the competition for security reasons," an official said. "Yet we need to make it clear that the French federation and the ISU are willing to continue with it."

"Facing barbarism, sport wants to put forward its values of fraternity and courage to show that we won't resign in front of those who disrespect human life," Didier Gailhaguet, the president of the French Federation of Ice Sports, said this morning.

Security was reinforced, and the rink's entrance is now completely secured.

High-level kiss and cry, and traffic jams

The kiss and cry sits in quite an original location: It is on the third floor, well above the rink. When skaters end their program, they walk with their coach along the rink to the elevator, and then reach the kiss and cry. This takes time, but the process is simple and the skaters are smart.

It's a bit more difficult for journalists. The press room is on one side of the kiss and cry, and the mixed zone is on the other. For once, both are on the same level, which is very practical. But as soon as a skater enters the lift, no one can cross from the press room to the mixed zone, so as to avoid disturbing the cameras. Once the marks are awarded and the cameras go back to the next skater on the ice, the writers may cross again. Once skaters are done with the mixed zone, they can take the elevator down to the locker room -- except they have to wait for the next skater to go up. Get the idea? Well, we don't completely understand it either! The area is quite jammed at times, with running journalists, inflexible security standing still, skaters walking fast to and from the elevator…

Kovtun's unending rotations

Russia's Maxim Kovtun is (rightfully) known as an incredible jumper. He planned to present no fewer than five quads in his two programs here in Bordeaux.

During practice, he invented a new concept: four turns in the air for a quad sal, followed by four more on his bottom. Pretty impressive to watch…and it is followed by a good round of laughter afterward!

For whom do they skate?

The rink in Bordeaux was full Thursday for the practice sessions, as local classrooms were invited to watch. Children, ranging in age from 4 to 10, were packed in the stands, cheering at each lift and jump as only children can do.

Friday, however, the rink was only half full for the short program. As usual, the organizers packed the audience on one side of the rink. "That's for television purposes," an official explained. OK then, but why do they need to place the audience opposite the judges, to whom the skaters direct their performance?

"We make sure that we create our programs so that they can be appreciated 360° and the story can be told in every direction," Madison Hubbell explained. "That said, some keypoints will have a different perspective according to where you sit. The audience will see more of Zach and the judges will see more of me!"

Beware of beams!

The press room is located under the roof of the rink. A huge concrete beam stands in the middle of the press room. The closer you walk from the wall, the more you risk hurting your head...especially when you are rushing to the mixed zone to get quotes from the skaters after their performance.

It could have been even worse: On Thursday, there was a sofa at the entrance of the room, forcing you to walk even closer to the wall. In a way, the sofa would have been helpful to welcome poor knocked-down journalists. Well, the sofa had a better destiny, as it was relocated to the kiss and cry to welcome the exhausted skaters and coaches. Journalists have more space to scurry now. Journalism is a risky business anyway: If we make mistakes at times, it may be that we just banged our heads on the big concrete beams in the press room.

Uno's own words

During the press conference following the men's short program, Shoma Uno unfolded a sheet of paper in front of him and started reading aloud when he was asked to comment on his performance: "Hello everybody, I'll speak in Japanese only." The room, of course, erupted in laughter. He folded his paper back up and answered all questions via his agent, who acted as his interpreter.