Breathtaking Olympic performances highlighted figure skating season

Breathtaking Olympic performances highlighted figure skating season

Some random observations on the competitive figure skating season that ended last week at the World Championships in Milan:

1.  The enduring memory will be of the overall excellence at the 2018 Olympics – the best skating in all four disciplines at the 11 Winter Games I have covered.

The full flowering of the quad revolution led to boggling feats in the men’s event, where Japan’s peerless Yuzuru Hanyu won a second straight Olympic title with a balance between athleticism and art unmatched by any man during the 14-seasons the IJS has been used at global championships.

Russians Alina Zagitova and Evgenia Medvedeva were flawlessly stunning in taking gold and silver, respectively, in the women’s event, and Canada’s Kaetlyn Osmond won bronze with her huge jumps, expressiveness and sense of choreographic purpose erasing one relatively minor mistake.

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No way to sugarcoat this: Nathan Chen has been awful in his first Olympics

No way to sugarcoat this:  Nathan Chen has been awful in his first Olympics

GANGNEUNG, South Korea - There is no way to sugarcoat this, to find a silver lining or a saving grace, or to think that the light at the end of the tunnel is anything but an oncoming train.

Nathan Chen has simply been awful in his first Olympics.

As poor as Chen was in the team event short program a week ago, he was significantly worse in the individual short program Friday.

"Honestly, it was bad," Chen said. "I made as many mistakes as I possibly could have."

The most gifted jumper in U.S. men's skating history did not have a clean jumping pass among the six he completed in the two short programs. The three in the individual short produced a fall, two step-out landings and failure to do a required combination.

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Quad revolution Chan helped start swept away his medal hopes, but not his legacy

Quad revolution Chan helped start swept away his medal hopes, but not his legacy

GANGNEUNG, South Korea - In his 12 years at the senior level of figure skating, Canada's Patrick Chan has been a transformative athlete.

"I am never going to look at Patrick as anything but a three-time world champion who was the first man to do beautiful skating and multiple quads," said four-time world champion and fellow Canadian Kurt Browning. "He was alpha dog for a long time."

What Browning could not include in that encomium is the one thing missing from Chan's much-decorated career: an individual Olympic gold medal. He let it slip from his grasp in 2014, and it seems out of his reach in the men's competition that begins with the short program Friday morning.

When Chan got his first Olympic gold medal Monday, it was for the team event, in which he had two mistake-riddled performances. That could have made it seem a bittersweet prize, but he refused to see it that way.

"At the end of the day, a medal is a medal," Chan insisted. "I'm going to hold this medal tight to me. That's how I am going to see it. That's how I am going to enjoy it."

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Men's figure skating has mess on its hands (and knees, and butts)

Men's figure skating has mess on its hands (and knees, and butts)

The Grand Prix and Challenger Series events ended last weekend, moving this Olympic figure skating season into the national championship phase (the first two of note are Russia, Dec. 19-24 in Saint Petersburg and Japan, Dec. 20-24 in Tokyo.)

There are big questions related to each.  Will injured reigning world champion Evgenia Medvedeva compete in the Russian Championships? Will injured reigning world and Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu be ready for Japanese nationals?

A 2018 Olympic spot for each should be a foregone conclusion, notwithstanding the unanswered questions about eligibility for all Russian athletes.  Given that Medvedeva did not compete at the Sochi Olympics, the epicenter of current Russian doping issues, and given that she has had no doping positives, nothing but injury should keep her from competing in Pyeongchang.

The Grand Prix Series also has left other unanswered questions.  Here are a few involving men’s singles (I’ll get to women, pairs and dance later in the week):

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