Ice Network

Karelian Hot Pot: Ge contemplates retirement

Uno lands impressive quad flip; White dishes on how ice dance is judged
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Misha Ge's appearance at the 2017 World Figure Skating Championships may very well serve as his final competition, but the talented skater has a bright future as a choreographer. -Getty Images

Some convert themselves instantly into the art of choreography, while others turn from great interviewees into great interviewers. Whatever the case may be, we've got you covered in our final report from Helsinki.

Say goodbye to those holes

Many skaters are familiar with the problem of having their leggings rip from too much wear and tear. But, eleven-time British champion Jenna McCorkell, who ended her competitive figure skating career in 2014, decided to do something about it.

"It's something that irritated me when I was skating," the 30-year-old said on the concourse of Hartwall Arena, where her new skating clothing line was launched during the world championships.

"I was always determined to find a solution for this problem in my collection," she continued. "I've found it and I'm very happy about it, so I incorporated a panel of cut-resistant fabric in to the design of my leggings. As far as I know, it has never been done before."

The fabric had to be really durable for training but also flexible and slip resistant. For testing the samples, she received help from her 23 students in Belgium, where she coaches with husband and two-time European medalist, Kevin van der Perren.

"I was happy he could come here to help for the first day, but he had to fly back Thursday morning because our skaters are going to be at the Flemish Championships this weekend," McCorkell said.

The website for her clothing line, chiquesport.com, went live Wednesday.

Flipping the script

Shoma Uno explained the process that led him to land the first quad flip in history.

"Actually, it took two minutes," Uno revealed. "I was quite depressed after worlds last year, so I wanted to change my mood and try something new. So, I tried the quad flip and I landed it right away. I was able to land it within one session, which enabled me to then land it at the Team Challenge Cup."

He makes it look so easy!

Toward the end of the post-skate press conference, an exhausted Uno was fighting to stake awake. When media manager Mila Kajas finally declared the press conference finished, Uno could no longer help himself. Still sitting behind the desk, he sported a yawn long enough for the dozens of Japanese photographers to get some good shots of the action.

Get some rest kiddo!

To retire or not to retire? That is the question

For Uzbekistan's Misha Ge, Saturday's long program may very well serve as his final appearance on the competitive circuit.

"A lot of people know that this could be my last competition, so for my last performance to skate like this, it's pure happiness for an athlete," the ecstatic Ge said after his skate.

The final decision on whether or not he continues his career will be made after he serves a few months as a choreographer.

"For the next two months, I'll be working with skaters on a daily basis," said Ge. "Two days after worlds, I will go back to Los Angeles to start working on choreography with many people, including Karen Chen, Gracie Gold and various Korean skaters. I will also go to Japan to do about five programs."

See you around, Misha!

Pairs skating a timely commitment

China's 2010 Olympic gold medalists, Xue Shen and Hongbo Zhao, both made the trip to Helsinki. Zhao is coaching the Chinese team, and his wife is now working for the Chinese federation.

Zhao has been quite busy throughout the season, mentoring world champions Wenjing Sui and Cong Han, as well as Xiaoyu Yu and Hao Zhang, and Cheng Peng and Yang Jin.

With her husband locked into his professional coaching responsibilities, was his wife able to see him as much as she'd like to?

"Oh well, I went to the rink to see him!" she said with a laugh.

At least her husband is continuing to enjoy monumental success!

Belly or ballet?

The journalists who brought you the news from the world championships were usually running back and forth from press row to the mixed zone, where they ask skaters a bevy of questions as they depart the ice.

Immediately following the final pairs practice, one journalist was talking of how one team had prepared for the event, with the duo explaining -- in rough English -- that they had trained with a specialist dancer. Their answer was not so clear, leaving the journalist to ask one of the most memorable questions of the event.

"Do you mean a ballet dancer, or a belly dancer?"

The mixed zone, which is usually packed with journalists, became mute at once before erupting with laughter. No one will ever know what the answer was, though!

Finnish greats

Along the concourse level of Hartwall Arena, the Finnish Museum of Sports has displayed a few costumes from Susanna Rahkamo and Petri Kokko, the 1995 European gold and world silver medalists in ice dance. Their costumes for the Olympic free dance in 1994 -- which were inspired by the story of two itinerant circus performers in the movie La Strada -- were criticized as "rags" back in the days.

Also displayed were three large photographs of skating legends Ludowika and Walter Jakobsson, the 1920 Olympic gold medalists in pairs.

They also have a unique feature: Ludowika was a German citizen at the time the team won its first world gold medal in 1911. The pair is also the only world champions in history to have won a major title for two countries at the same time: Germany and Finland.

Dream sequences

Listening to the music of the final ice dance practice Saturday morning was striking. The musical choices of the five best teams were simply romantic, with each possessing the same flow of piano playing and suave voices.

"When I saw Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron win two years ago, I said to myself that we would see many programs of that same sort," a TV reporter offered.

Papadakis laughed about the comment as she passed by.

"That's true. I love all the music this year!" she said.

"They are all in what I would call our 'panel of comfort'," Cizeron added.

"At the same time, that's quite normal," coach Marie-France Dubreuil offered. "Fluid music carries and supports gliding moves. The teams who want to succeed will choose music that best exemplifies their glide. Of course, that requires the edges to be perfect. Scratching on a pure note will be heard more easily."

Assessing ice dance is both a sport and an art

One of the main topics in Helsinki on Friday was the way the short dance was judged by the technical panel. Teams who usually receive Level 4's across the board were awarded Level 2's and 3's for their step sequences, something that left many scratching their heads.

"Ice dance is a question of what program skaters want to accomplish, given the music they have chosen," 2014 Olympic gold medalist Charlie White, who was working as an interviewer for the ISU, offered. "You have to find a way to distill the essence of ice dance into a technical element to be scored. Besides, the levels are readjusted as new standards emerge. Virtue and Moir raised the standard, so everyone else dropped. The best of the world are setting new standards. It will be hard to give the same standards than before.

"It's difficult to see that little bit of snow coming out of the toe of your blade, or that knee, or that edge change, when you don't have a super-slow movement camera, like the judges have, even when you're a skater," White added. "You need to put your faith in the system. Ice dance has found a good balanced system now, and made it more than serviceable."