Ladies' free program gave me my 'Olympic moment'
Mao Asada, Caroline Kostner provide memorable experiences
Now at my sixth Olympics, I have had the good fortune to experience something memorable on the field of play at each Games. It’s something that I call my Olympic moment and I was beginning to wonder if it would pass me by this time.
I should have known better.
When the women hit the ice last night for the free skate at figure skating they did so with determination and confidence, making it an exceedingly interesting event to watch.
When Japan’s Mao Asada took her position I wondered what would happen. She had faltered so badly in her short program that she finished in 16th place. Instead of curling up into whatever the skating equivalent would be of a fetal position, she came out and skated. Her program was exquisite and she even got credit for her triple Axel jump. What caught me, though, were Asada’s tears when she finished her skate. Call it relief, call it joy or a combination of each, but that spontaneous expression of emotion illuminated the courage it must have taken for her to skate like she did knowing there was no chance of a medal. The good news is she moved up to sixth place overall.
I think that the right ladies finished on the podium, although I would have had them in a different order.
The 2010 Olympic champion Yuna Kim of Korea is an unusual combination of technical yet expressive skating. As the leader after the short program, she sadly put herself in a position where her lead was less than a point overall ahead of the next two skaters. She was caught out on the free program and ended up with a silver this time around.
The Olympic champion is Russia’s Adelina Sotnikova, who was methodical in her approach and checked off seven triple jumps along the way. She is an enormous talent with great technical skill and there is a boat load of potential. I expect her to be around for a long time but I have to say that currently, Sotnikova lacks the polish and maturity of the older skaters. This is no surprise given the fact that she is only 17 and I am sure it will change as she continues to develop.
The bronze medallist, Carolina Kostner of Italy, represented best for me what I like to watch across all figure skating disciplines. Skating to Ravel’s Bolero, she not only executed the jumps and tricks but had time to engage with the audience, compelling them to watch her skate. Lori Nichol’s choreography for Kostner is masterful. The nuances in the music were met note for note by the intricacies in the choreography. It is a program well worth looking up if you don’t think that skaters can be artistic under the current judging system.
For Kostner, it is the first Olympic medal for Italy in single skating. Sotnikova’s is the first gold for an individual Russian female figure skater, and made Russia the first International Skating Union member nation to have produced Olympic champions in each of the figure skating disciplines.