Ice Network

Bouillabaisse: Quad axels may be on the horizon

Grand Prix Final offers much to cheer for; Medalists discuss unique gift
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It's no secret that Japan's Yuzuru Hanyu knows how to approach the Grand Prix Final, as the Japanese skater has won the past four titles in stunning fashion. -Getty Images

Satoko Miyahara's free skate possessed a unique feature: her final rotations were performed counter-clockwise, but her final spin was performed clockwise.

"I learned to skate in the U.S. as a child," Miyahara explained. "I learned all my jumps rotating clockwise, up to the axel. Then, I moved back to Japan, and I was taught to jump in the other direction, but I can still land my axel in both directions. My final spin reminisces that past era."

Unique finals…

Evgenia Medvedeva won her second consecutive Grand Prix Final, topping the previous world-record short program score in the process. Two years ago, the Russian stood atop the junior podium at this competition, one she cares most about.

"The Grand Prix Final is the most important competition of the season because it is the only one that has the juniors and seniors, and only the best skaters," she said. "I am proud to have qualified for my fourth Grand Prix Final. There are a lot of talented people you can learn from."

Click-click-click…

"The microphone doesn't work," Yuzuru Hanyu inquired during the press conference following the free skate. It did, but Japanese photographers were shooting 10 times per second as Shoma Uno was talking. Their cameras were making an incredible noise, making it almost impossible to understand what he was explaining.

Yuzuru, that's just like when your fans launch a thunder of applause before the end of your program and you can't hear your music anymore. Except this time, it's the journalists' turn!

Quad axels?

"Have you ever tried quad axels?" a journalist asked the three medalists from the men's field. All of them happened to be torch bearers in terms of quads: Uno with his quad flip, Hanyu for his quad loop and Nathan Chen for his quad lutz and quad flip.

"I'll train it, and, if possible, I'll include it in competition," Hanyu offered.

Nathan Chen laughed upon being asked the same question.

"Right now I'm focusing on staying healthy," said Chen, who admitted he worked on the lutz and flip to transfer the strain to his other hip. "The quad axel is not impossible; I've seen Max Aaron do a quad axel with a harness, and Yuzuru has a great triple axel, so maybe he can add one more rotation."

Green room

The green room was back at the Grand Prix Final, right behind the kiss and cry. Journalists were still unable to interview skaters who ranked first when they left the ice. The good thing, however, was that the green room isolated only one competitor or team this year, and not the three it previously held.

In the Green Room, skaters could find themselves sitting on a sofa, with a big screen in front of them, and a camera picking up their expression as their competitors received their marks.

Eric Radford seemed to be at ease as well, just watching and relaxing. For once, the top skaters earned the right to watch their competitors skate right away.

Drawbacks

…And they may have quite an impact on the competition. Most notably, the ISU Congress decided to reintroduce open draws for the short program, which means the highest seed will skate first. The advantage the ISU saw in such a change was that judges no longer have to evaluate a performance with the same look.

Take Javier Fernández, for instance. For several years now, the Spaniard has been accustomed to skating in the final group. Fernández drew to skate first at the Rostelecom Cup, the Trophée de France and, once again in Marseille, each time performing far below his usual standard. In Paris, Brian Orser asked him to leave the warm-up session a minute and a half prior to his skate so he could mirror the action of not skating first.

He didn't do it in Marseille.

Citizen watch

The title of this section is by no means a human rights organization, as some believed at first. At the end of every competition, the Citizen Corporation awards a beautiful watch to each medalist. This was not too convenient, however, as it forbade the honorees from attending the press conference, which began 20 minutes after the previous one ended.

"Now you can time your ice dance lifts precisely," Scott Moir laughingly suggested.

"Oh yeah! On the top of a lift, I'll pull that watch out to check," Gabriella Papadakis answered.