by Klaus-Reinhold Kany
(8 December 2017) The short program of the senior men at the 2017 Grand Prix Final in Nagoya had a good, but not outstanding level. No one skated without mistakes. The arena, configured for 6000 seats, was sold out, and many more would have liked to buy tickets. More than 100,000 Japanese took part in a lottery to get tickets. Nevertheless, the rink was not full during the event and it was thought than some ticket holders cancelled plans to attend after Yuzuru Hanyu did not make the final.
Three of the six senior men are from the USA, (three of the six junior men as well), which is more than U.S. Figure Skating had expected.
Nathan Chen from Lakewood, California, won the short program with 103.32 points. The first of his seven elements was a combination of quad Lutz and triple toe-loop, which was a bit wobbly. His quad flip was not a hundred per cent clean either and his triple Axel had a short landing period. His three spins were good and his energetic step sequence excellent. Former ice dancer Shae-Lynn Bourne choreographed his program to the music "Nemesis“ by Benjamin Clementine. His components were around 9.0.
He commented, "I was very happy skating here, the audience is very energetic. It’s great to feel that you are in the lead. Both of my quads were a little bit shaky. That was because I was nervous and little stressed. I will focus on tomorrow and for the future trust myself use energy to put on the show as best as I can. I didn’t do my best at Skate America so I can redeem myself in the free program. I have to make sure I calm myself tonight and sleep well so I can start fresh tomorrow and focus on one quad at a time.“
World silver medalist Shoma Uno, who is from Nagoya, sits second with 101.51 points. To the delight of his home crowd, he began with a good quad flip, followed by a very good combination of quad toe-loop and triple toe-loop, but he lost his landing edge on the triple Axel and fell, a bit less than one second after seemingly having landed it. His three spins and his step sequence, all level 4, were excellent. He skated to "Winter“ from Antonio Vivaldi’s Four Seasons and had components with an average of 9.3. The points lost on this element cost him the lead in the short program.
"I just thought I made a new type of mistake‘ today,“ he commented. "The triple Axel is the jump I know I can land. When I made mistake, this is not like‚ I felt so disappointed‘. But I felt like‚ let’s get this done better next time. I felt I didn't take off the triple Axel in the way I usually do. So I tightened myself hard in the air and I don’t know what happened. Maybe over-rotation. I was not so surprised by 101 points, but I was more surprised by two points deduction. I only fell once, and I don't think anything fell from my costume. I didn't touch the wall either. So I only can think of overtime being another deduction factor. I changed the music a bit and started today's program slightly earlier.“ He had a time deduction.
Mikhail Kolyada from Russia sits third, earning 99.22 points. He fell on his opening quad Lutz, but his next element was a very good combination of quad toe-loop and triple toe-loop. The triple Axel and the four other elements with level 4 were very good as well, but he lacked a bit of charisma. Later he explained, “A shame I missed the Lutz, but the jump is still not consistent. I haven’t been doing it as long as the toe loop in competition. In practice it has been going well, especially in the past one and a half weeks. My first Grand Prix Final is just like another competition, I feel no difference. I have not been reading the news about the IOC decision. I tried to stay away from that because it is distracting. The main thing obviously is to get to go to the Olympic Games.“
Jason Brown of Monument in Colorado, is fourth with 89.02 points. He came as a last-minute alternate for the Chinese skater Boyang Jin who had had foot problems at and before Skate America and decided to heal his foot in order to get fit for the Olympic Games. Brown began with a good triple Axel, followed by a combination of triple flip and triple toe-loop, but he stepped out of the toe-loop. The triple Lutz was very good and his spins and steps even excellent. He skated to "The Room Where it Happens“ from "Hamilton“ and his components were around 8.9 which was the as high as Kolyada’s components, but Brown has better skating skills and a better performance.
"I love, love performing here,“ he said. "It’s like performing at home. I felt so much support, I wanted to come back so badly, because I was here for NHK and I wanted to come back stronger for this event. I was so excited to be out there and perform by heart out for the crowd. I'm very excited by how it went. I did have a little bobble on my combination, but still I fought through it, stayed on my feet and continued to fight. I feel like this is all part of that pre-season leaning up to the Olympics, getting it all out now and learning from it and growing from it.
"After NHK my focus was US championships, I got new skates, getting prepared so I can be in top shape there and then 2 am on Friday, I was in my bed when I got a text from my coach telling me to pack my bags we leave on Sunday. I was so excited. I have been training my butt off, so this event felt like an extra bonus.“
Sergei Voronov from Russia is currently fifth, winning 87.77 points. He began with a good combination of quad toe-loop and triple toe-loop. His triple Lutz out of steps was a bit shaky and he stepped out of the triple Axel. He lacked a bit of choreography and later commented: "I am upset only about one element, let's be honest, it was a big mistake. But my goal was to do it anyway, to rotate. And other elements were good. I like to perform in Japan, I feel like home here. Maybe I was a little tight but in general I was in great mood and wanted to show how good I am. But to be serious, it is really great to skate with such strong skaters, to feel this atmosphere, this fight, I really enjoy it.“
He also talked about the IOC decision about the Olympic Games: "For me it was not like a day of judgment. I came here to compete and Olympic Games are in the future, even next year. Let allow new year to come and then we will see. The most important thing is peace without war. Of course, I feel sorry about this situation. But I didn't compete in the previous Olympic Games and today this situation is not related to me directly. Although I want to go there for sure, but I try to live in the present.“
Adam Rippon from Lakewood, California, finished in sixth position with 86.19 points. Skating to "Let me Think About it“ performed by Ida Carr, he showed a good combination of triple flip and triple toe-loop, a good triple Axel, but he under-rotated the triple Lutz. His spins and steps, however, were as excellent as usual. He said: "I’m happy with my performance today. Such a silly, silly, stupid mistake on the triple Lutz. But overall I felt I was strong out there. So I just need to get a good amount of points at the short program, which I am happy with today. My goal is to be in the Olympics. I just want to show to US selection committee that I am consistent. I think I did it, well I got a stupid mistake in short program but I will be much stronger tomorrow and I am ready for future challenges.“