Worlds is over? Say it ain't so. Last week was quite a blur - and after running from practice rink to TD Garden rink, doing play-by-plays incessantly, and not eating, I posted some of my analysis of what transpired. But there was so much that still needed to be talked about. So to round it all out, here is a super-Opining post of all the things that I didn't get to talk about last week.
Duhamel/Radford defy (my) expectations
Of all the winners at Worlds, Meagan Duhamel/Eric Radford's repeat victory was, for me, the most unexpected. After all, they came in on the heels of solid but not spectacular performances this season. They've had issues with their throw lutz, they've had issues with their side-by-side lutz, they've had to deal with illness at Four Continents - all in all, if I were Duhamel/Radford, my feelings going into Boston would have been to be happy to be there.
And in a lot of ways, that may have been the best thing that could've happened to them. Instead of feeling like they were under the pressure of defending a World title, they felt like they were underdogs who were proving pundits, like me, wrong. And that's exactly how they skated, putting the best two programs of their lives out and easily winning their second World title. Duhamel's grin during the last minute of their free skate said it all. What a thrill.
We had three medalists who were making their debut at Worlds. Evgenia Medvedeva is the most prominent, winning the ladies' event. Aliona Savchenko, who has eight World medals under her belt with Robin Szolkowy, made a stunning debut with Bruno Massot and took the bronze. Boyang Jin brought his quad lutz to the table and took advantage of mistakes from some of the favorites to win the bronze in the men's event.
Outside the podium, we had a few others who had a great first Worlds. Mikhail Kolyada was probably the biggest surprise in the men's event, finishing fourth with two clean programs and establishing himself as the best of the Russian men. Kirsten Moore-Towers/Michael Marinaro redeemed their season and left the scary fall at Canadians behind, finishing eighth with two personal bests.
Even though Shoma Uno finished seventh in his Worlds debut, which would be fantastic for 99.9% of the world, he left Boston completely disappointed. Knowing his work ethic, expect him to come back next season with a vengeance, and probably more difficult jumps.
Shibutanis make history
The ice dance event belonged to Gabriella Papadakis/Guillaume Cizeron for a second consecutive year, and they became the first dance team to win two in a row since 2007. But it was the home team, Maia Shibutani/Alex Shibutani, who made history with the silver medal. The last time they stood on the podium was in 2011 in their Worlds debut. But no dance team has ever spent more than two seasons between podium appearances, and this silver gave the Shibutanis a first World medal in five years.
Ice dance has always been a hierarchical discipline. You don't get knocked down from third to eighth in the world and then find your way back to the podium. It just doesn't happen. Most skaters would have thrown in the towel, but the Shibutanis continued to fine-tune and improve, and last season was a turning point for them. Their fifth-place at Worlds last season was a springboard for them, and found themselves back with the top tier ice dance teams.
Teammates Madison Chock/Evan Bates took the bronze with the best free dance I've ever seen from them, making it two American teams on the podium. Incidentally, the last time that happened was 2011, the last time the Shibutanis won a World medal.