it’s now been two weeks since the 2019 World Figure Skating Championships were said and done. In the first part of my look-back, I took a look at the historic performances by Nathan Chen and Yuzuru Hanyu. And before we jump to World Team Trophy next week, I wanted to give myself another week and revisit some of the fondest memories I had from the competition. What do I remember? Let’s find out.
Comebacks, comebacks, comebacks
The toll of the years leading up to last season’s Olympics was certainly felt by many. And there were a number of comeback stories this season that were both inspiring and successful. There was Wenjing Sui/Cong Han, once again making their season debut at Four Continents and then winning Worlds, as they did two years ago. Their free skate was one of the best ever, and amazingly enough, Sui still doesn’t really like this music.
Another comeback of note was Madison Chock/Evan Bates returning from Chock’s surgery and, like Sui/Han, not competing until January. After some disappointments last season, they returned refreshed with a new outlook, and with improvements to their skating to boot.
A different kind of comeback happened to Vanessa James/Morgan Cipres. One of the favorites for gold in pairs, James/Cipres saw their chances derail during the six-minute warmup for their short program, when James had a heavy collision with Matteo Guarise that shook both of them. James/Cipres climbed from seventh in the short to take third in the free and fifth overall. It wasn’t their best of the season, but it was a victory in resilience for a pair that still has big dreams they want to fulfill.
And then there were the diverging narratives of Alina Zagitova and Evgenia Medvedeva, the once-training mates who had very different Olympic season experiences. But both Zagitova, the Olympic champ, and Medvedeva, the Olympic silver medalist, emerged from it with mental blocks that threatened their seasons. Zagitova dealt with the pressures of returning to competition immediately after her Olympic win; Medvedeva dealt with coming back from skating injured most of last season, the lows of getting silver from an expected gold, and the adjustments from a coaching and environment change. And while there were hiccups for both of them during the season, both of them also finished the season brilliantly in Saitama.
It was so fitting. It was the first World Championships since the tragic murder of Kazakh skating pioneer and two-time World medalist Denis Ten. There was a tribute display for Ten in the Saitama Super Arena. Elizabet Tursynbaeva, the lone representative from Kazakhstan, had been following in her teammate’s footsteps for years. And she broke through - not only winning the silver, a first World podium finish for Kazakhstan in the ladies’ event, but also becoming the first woman to land a quadruple jump in senior international competition.
Tursynbaeva herself skated a tribute to Ten in the exhibition gala.
Jason Brown’s short program
I’m really not going to say much about this, because this program speaks for itself. But it is one of the great programs in recent memory from anyone. Enjoy.
And so much more
It was an incredible Worlds, and there are so many more memories that I don’t have time to put down. Perhaps we will see them in my Top 50 of 2018-19? Stay tuned.