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2021 Grand Premio d'Italia: Men

by Klaus-Reinhold Kany



(8 November 2021) The men’s competition at the Grand Prix in Turin had a mixed quaity because several skaters had one good and one bad program. Overall again, they made many more mistakes than the women.

18-year-old Yuma Kagiyama from Japan, silver medalist at the World Championships 2021 in Stockholm, Sweden, won the event with 278.02 points although he had been only seventh in the short program with 80.53 points. Competing there to the song “When You are Smiling“ by Michael Bublé, he had two serious errors: stepping out of the quad Salchow; and instead of performing a combination of quad toe loop and triple toe loop, he stumbled and could do only a shaky triple toe loop, but no combination. The triple Axel and the other four elements were excellent. The spins even had mainly GOEs of +4 and his components were around 8.5.

He began his free program to the soundtrack of “Gladiator“ with a quad Salchow, which was a bit shaky. But later two quad toe loops and two triple Axels were excellent, five other triple jumps, the three spins and the two step sequences as well. His components moved up to an average of 8.9. Kagiyama is mainly coached by his father Masakazu Kagiyama who had participated in the Olympic Games of 1992 and 1994.

Yuma said, “I only just found out after the last skater that I finished in first place, so I'm very surprised. After the short program I couldn't change my mindset and even this morning I was feeling low in practice. I didn't know what to do about the situation. My coach said let's forget what we did last year - the position, the record - so I shook it off and thought I'm starting from scratch and I'm doing my best and it helped. It's a good experience for me. My ultimate goal for the season is to be on the podium at the Olympic Games. In order to reach this goal I need two very good programs.“

Mikhail Kolyada from St. Petersburg, student of Alexei Mishin and fifth at the World Championships 2021, won the silver medal with 273.55 points after being fourth in the short program. In this program to the classical version of Tchaikovski’s “Nutcracker“, the elegant skater began with an impressive combination of quad Salchow and triple toe loop, followed by a quad toe loop at the quarter (q) on which he fell. The triple Axel, the three spins and the step sequence were outstanding again and his components around 8.7.

His free program music is the soundtrack of “Schindler’s List“. He stepped out of his first element, the quad Salchow, and later out of the second quad toe loop. But his first quad toe loop in combination with a triple toe loop was stellar. Four other triple jumps were very good, but he had another step-out on the triple loop. Spins and steps were excellent. He said, “The performance was not ideal, but by coach said that we are moving into the right direction and I believe him. I am taking step by step. It is a shame about the mistakes, but I liked the emotional part of my performance.”

Daniel Grassl from Italy took the bronze medal, winning 269.00 points. His short program to “Nureyev“ from the soundtrack of “White Crow“ was faultless with a quad Lutz, a combination of triple Lutz and triple toe loop and a triple Axel, everything good, but nothing outstanding. His spins were excellent. “I was really excited for today“, he commented. “I want to thank the (Italian) Federation for hosting the Grand Prix. I'm so happy I skated for the people and I felt them with me, I felt very positive today. I wanted a strong performance.”

On the day of the free program, Grassl said in the mixed zone, he had stomach problems, maybe after eating something bad. But he fought well to the music of the two soundtracks “Interstellar“ and “Armageddon“ and landed in the first minute a quad Lutz, a quad flip and a sequence of quad loop (with a q), Euler and triple Salchow. Later he performed six more triple jumps, two of them with a q again, but his spins were not as good as usually. His components were around 8.1. “The emotions were high," he said, "and I wanted to give a good skate for the Italians. And I'm happy I did my first podium in Italy, so thank you to all the people who supported me.”

Deniss Vasiljevs from Latvia took fourth place with 248.44 points. In his flawless short program to “Sarakiz – Romanza“ by Karl Jenkins and to “Battle Drums“, he had four good triple jumps and excellent spins and steps. In the free to Prokofiev’s “Romeo and Julia“ the longtime student of Stephane Lambiel fell on the quad Salchow and stepped out of the triple Axel. Seven other triples were at least good, the spins outstanding.

Junhwan Cha from South Korea came fifth with 247.74 points. The student of Brian Orser had a strong short program with an excellent quad Salchow (five GOEs of +4), a very good combination of triple Lutz and triple loop, a soso triple Axel and outstanding spins and steps. In the free program, he dropped from third because he fell on the quad toe loop, popped the Salchow and made three more mistakes.

Kazuki Tomono from Japan ended sixth with 245.11 points. In his short, his quad toe loop combination and his quad Salchow were not perfectly clean, the rest was good. In the free ha had three very good quads, but popped an Axel and had an invalid spin. Boyang Jin from China landed in seventh position with 242.27 points. He had even won the short program with a good combination of quad Lutz and triple toe loop, an excellent quad toe loop and a good triple Axel. But in the free program to a Flamenco-Bolero, he dropped to seventh position after falling twice and making three more mistakes.

Petr Gummenik from Russia is on eighth place with 226.276 points. In the short program, he had problems with all three jumps. In the free, he performed two very good quads, but fell in the third one. His teammate Dmitri Aliev from St. Petersburg is ninth with 217.67 points. For more than a year he has suffered from Long Covid problems and still feels a bit weak sometimes. In the short, he fell on the quad Lutz, reduced his combination to triple toe loop and triple toe loop and performed only a double Axel. In the free, he went down again on the quad Lutz and had no power to try another quad.

Yudong Chen from China sits tenth with 200.96 points. In the short, he had a very good quad Salchow, but fell on the triple Axel. In the free program, four jumps did not work. Gabriele Frangipani from Italy ended up 11th with 167.60 points after many errors. Paul Fentz from Germany fell in the short program on the triple toe loop which was planned quadruple and on the triple Axel. He finished there 11th with 57.17 points. He suffers under several injuries for three months now and withdrew after the morning practice for the free program.