Ice Network

Tapas Grandes: Spain graced with historic skating

Fernández stops to sign autographs, take photos with frenzied fans
  • Ice Network on Facebook
  • Ice Network on Twitter
Javier Fernández didn't let Yuzuru Hanyu's historic performances overshadow his skating, as the world champion turned in a personal-best free skate on home ice. -Getty Images

Want a picture?

At each awards ceremony Saturday (there were two), a long line started to form at the corner of the rink. Dozens of people were suddenly standing there in front of the heavy black curtain, waiting to enter the ice -- except they weren't wearing skates, and their apparel was not quite what you'd expect from a skating competition of the Grand Prix Final's caliber. The huge cameras they were bearing made it clear: They were all the accredited photographers, preparing to shoot the podiums. Figure skating may be a great television spectacle, but it also remains one of the most popular sports for photographers. Rightfully so, as pictures of those sublime moments when art meets sport are also some of the best life can offer.

Vote Ashley!

"Impossible: possible. Unviable: viable."

Such read the posters campaigning for a political party that were posted on the lighting poles, along with the advertisement for the Final in Barcelona. This also could have been Ashley Wagner's own motto Saturday, as she turned the world around and propelled herself back to where she belongs -- among the best skaters in the world. Knowing her a bit, you would not hesitate in the slightest to trust her more than many politicians. At least she holds on to her commitments. Plus, she gives great and inspired speeches!

Happy Javi

The Barcelona International Convention Centre was finally empty when the last journalists left Saturday night, around 12:30 a.m. The lights were turned off after the last awards ceremony, and the capacity crowd had left the building. Not completely, however, as about 100 or so fans were still congratulating their hero. "Javi! Javi!" they were yelling enthusiastically, trying to get an autograph or a picture -- and often, both! 

Javier Fernández was at the end of the line, charming as ever, taking the time to smile and give a word to each one, especially to the numerous children in attendance, just two hours after his new personal-best, 200-plus point free skate. "Javi" is pronounced "ravee" in Spanish. In French (where it would be spelled "Ravi"), it means joyful, happy, content. Fernández could not find a more suitable nickname.

Gracie's eyes

"A camera is a device that allows you to see what you should see without it," a famous German photographer once said.

A budding photographer herself, Gracie Gold saw a lot while in Barcelona. She learned a lot, too, just like each of the skaters who competed here. Let's hope her cameras allow her to find a clue to solve the problems that plagued her Firebird free skate. Christmas might not be snowy at Gold's training base in El Segundo, California, but it will certainly be skaty. Fortunately, the most talented Firebird on earth is full of resource and talent.

Spanish ice…cream

In the middle of his free, Fernández took the time to caress the ice with his hand, just before he started to gain speed for his triple lutz-double toe and the rest of his program. It's true that "ice" is called "gel" in Spanish. (You skate on gel in Spain!) Maybe he wanted to freshen his hairdo before his final jumps and spins? That (extremely important) point was not able to be clarified during the press conference, however.

A passion for life

Would you allow me to tell a personal story? Just before the final competitions Saturday afternoon, as I was concentrating on my upcoming articles, a press officer from Hungary came to give me a card from "a couple who met you some years ago." We had met them in Budapest, Hungary, during the 1988 World Championships. They were living in East Germany at the time, and they flew away from their country to resettle on the West side, months before the Berlin wall was torn down. In Budapest, Katarina Witt won, as did Brian Boitano. Brian Orser grabbed the silver medal. Twenty-seven years later, we reunited for a minute to exchange email addresses. A few hours after the competition was over, that same Brian Orser was found wandering in front of the skaters' hotel, among their fans.

"This is incredible," he said, thrilled as we all were by the fantastic night of skating we had just been graced with.

Figure skating doesn't need a Facebook. Life's passions create a social network of sorts on their own, and they are forever -- with no updated versions required to constantly download!

Until we meet again…thanks for joining us!

HRH (His Royal Highness)

And the last word is for …

"You said once that you wanted to be the very best and absolute majesty," a Japanese journalist suggested as she started her question to the newly crowned world record holder and Grand Prix gold medalist, Yuzuru Hanyu. The room erupted in laughter.

"I don't feel like the absolute royal majesty…yet," Hanyu replied in Japanese, laughing.

Long live King Yuzu -- the first, of course!