It rained Winnie-the-Poohs in Palais Omnisports de Bercy in the men’s short program event: tens of yellow teddy bears flew over the ice at the end of Yuzuru Hanyu’s routine. The Japanese wonder boy nailed a flawless short program – and got a well deserved standing ovation from the crowd in the arena. As for me, I got shivers down my spine right from the very beginning of the program – I was definitely conquered by the choice of music: “Parisian walkways” (Gary Moore). Sticking to the same short program from last season, Yuzuru got to skate this masterpiece of program in front of a Parisian audience – and this was definitely a beautiful coincidence.
by Florentina Tone
As for the loads of Winnie-the-Pooh received from the fans – Yuzuru’s passion for this particular teddy bear is notorious – it seems he has enough of them: in the Kiss and Cry area, the Japanese made a representative gesture, “saying” something like “Thank you, but no more”. Well, I’m not sure about that: I think Yuzuru will keep receiving Pooh bears as long as he continues to keep his handkerchiefs in that yellow teddy bear box (carried with grace by Brian Orser; as if the bear would be a lucky totem for Yuzuru…).
In the free skating event, once again, the Japanese had the crowd on their feet, me among them, though he did stumble while attempting his first quad, the Salchow, and fell after he’d landed the quad Toe-loop. The 18-year-old Japanese seemed to have lost his focus for a millisecond and began his long program, on the music from “Romeo and Juliet”, with this set of costly errors, which could have been enough to make him fall into pieces; but from now on, the Japanese’ routine was flawless. The ice was his and the powerful interpretation of Romeo and Juliet’s drama was followed, anew, by tens of little gifts flowing over the ice – and it was quite difficult for Patrick Chan to avoid them, while trying to practice some of his jumps before starting his routine.
At the end of the day, Yuzuru Hanyu was the winner of hearts in Palais de Bercy, while Patrick Chan got the trophy, with an impeccable, dense and consistent routine, skated on the music of Antonio Vivaldi and Arcangelo Corelli. And if Olympics were tomorrow, with the score received at 2013 Trophée Eric Bompard, the Canadian would definitely win the gold – and by a large margin; he has now 295.27 points – by far, the best score of the season. On this hypothetical podium, built-up on the scores received at the Grand Prix events, Patrick is followed by two Japanese skaters: Daisuke Takahashi, with 268.31 points at NHK Trophy, and Tatsuki Machida, with 265.38 points received at the first Grand Prix of the season, Skate America. In this improvised top of the best scores, Yuzuru Hanyu would be fourth (263.59 points). One thing seems to be sure: from what I’ve seen live in Paris, Patrick Chan might very well be the next Olympic champion – his quads are solid as a rock and his programs are definitely Olympic-material.
As for me, at the end of the men’s event – short and free – I got myself a new talented skater: the 18-year-old Jason Brown entered my group of wonderful skaters. His joy of skating is purely contagious. Have you sensed his enthusiasm during the routines? In Paris, Jason was a magnet for the eyes: he skated with confidence, pleasure and ease, breathing joy through every pore of his body. And the public loved him, that’s for sure. Jason got a Season Best Score for the free – and proved to be a charismatic skater, an athlete to remember.
There weren’t, on the other hand, Han Yan’s best days at the 2013 Trophée Eric Bompard (the talented Chinese lacked stamina and enthusiasm in Paris) or Florent Amodio’s days (though the crowd cheered him loudly, the French seemed unprepared; and though I can understand the reason why he left Nikolai Morozov, I wonder if it was a mature and wise decision to part ways with his coach at the beginning of such an important season, the Olympic one. Florent needs confidence and consistency in order to prepare for Sochi; at this point, he doesn’t seem to have either one…)
The podium in the men’s event at 2013 TEB
1. Patrick Chan: 295.27 points (SP: 98.52 points, FS: 196.75 points)
2. Yuzuru Hanyu: 263.59 points (SP: 95.37 points, FS: 168.22 points)
3. Jason Brown: 243.09 points (SP: 84.77 points, FS: 158.32 points)