Here you are: a recap of the 2014 Grand Prix Final in Barcelona, putting into the spotlight the pictures from our Instagram account. You’ll thank me later for this colored retrospective: though some of them are fuzzy and blurry, these pictures are in fact small treasures encapsulating the joy of a specific moment, a feeling, a bouquet of emotions. Do follow me into the Grand Prix Final’s heart, I’m pretty sure you’ll love to travel back in time. We’re in Barcelona, on December 10th…
by Florentina Tone
December 10: no better way to start the adventure of the Grand Prix Final than meeting Maia and Alex Shibutani at the end of their practice session; they looked happy and relaxed while leaving the arena – and, two days later, they would skate a marvel of a short dance in Barcelona, to Flamenco/Paso Doble.
December 10: now that’s what I call a wonderful encounter, with some of the most innovative skaters out there, Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier. A joy to have finally met the Canadians who caught my eye in 2012 with their ingenious routines; I’ve been following them ever since and Inside Skating has been lucky enough to host some of their thoughts and stories in 2014. In Barcelona, Piper and Paul skated their best performances of the season so far – and I was thrilled to watch them enjoy their first Grand Prix Final together.
December 10: a joyful journalist at the doors of CCIB arena, prior to taking her media accreditation and being swept into the atmosphere of the Grand Prix Final.
December 10: just in time for the senior pairs’ practice in Barcelona – and for the first look at the gorgeous arena that hosts the first major figure skating event ever organized in Spain.
December 10: senior men take the ice for their first practice in Barcelona – and I feel like the competition has already started; though you can’t see them here, the stands near the ice are full of team mates encouraging their colleagues. Somewhere on the right, Rika Hongo, Shoma Uno and Sota Yamamoto came to observe and cheer for Takahito Mura, Tatsuki Machida and Yuzuru Hanyu. There’s only one skater missing from this first practice: the Russian Maxim Kovtun; he’ll come to the arena the following day.
December 10: team Hanyu-Orser (-Pooh) in action at GPF Barcelona, during men’s practice. What a wonderful relationship Brian Orser and Yuzuru Hanyu seem to have – and this is clearly one of the reasons this particular partnership is so successful.
December 10: Takahito Mura, talking to the Japanese media right after men’s first practice in Barcelona. Don’t ask me what they were talking about, I’m not familiar with the Japanese language, I just stood there in contemplation, taking pictures and marveling at the passion this country has for its skaters and for figure skating as a whole.
December 10: Javier Fernandez talks to the Japanese media – in English this time – about Spain hosting its first major figure skating event and about his training mate in Toronto, Yuzuru Hanyu.
December 10: it’s Tatsuki Machida’s turn to talk to the journalists – and he does just that for a couple of minutes. Out of all the interviews, this has definitely been the longest, with Tatsuki taking his time to carefully answer to every question he’d been asked.
December 10: the series of interviews ends with Yuzuru Hanyu, who gets to be surprised by the journalists; while he talks, a birthday cake appear somewhere in the back, carefully guarded from Yuzuru’s eyes. And when he stops talking people start singing “Happy Birthday”; me among them. Was this a wonderful moment or what?
December 11, the day the competition in Barcelona officially begins: senior ladies’ practice, at GPF Barcelona. In the spotlight, the Russian Elena Radionova, who turns 16 on January 6th. And what a talent she is – one of my favorite skaters these days; and what a gorgeous free program she has for this season, to Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 3 and Trio Elegiaque No. 2.
December 11: A flying Yuzuru Hanyu on a banner in CCIB arena. This particular banner will change its place for numerous times during the event, so that everyone can see it.
December 11: senior ice dancers take the ice for their practice. This time, they get to rehearse their free dances – and I for one I’m already amazed: Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron’s free dance to Mozart is a true gem. A couple of days later, the French will win the bronze – at their first participation in the (Senior) Grand Prix Final.
December 11: oh, my, I love this dress: Kaitlyn Weaver’s dress for the Vivaldi free dance.
December 11: the Russian Elena Ilinykh sure looks like a princess with her new white dress for the free dance. She’ll try a black one too during practices in Barcelona, but at the time of competition she’ll go for the white one.
December 11: one of my favorite snapshots from the ice dancers’ practice at GPF Barcelona: Piper Gilles, Paul Poirier and one of their trademark moves from their free dance. As Paul described their long program in an interview for Inside Skating, “We have learned that using characters really help us to make our characters genuine, especially in this Free Dance, called «Late night, early morning». In the FD Piper is the star performer and I am the bandleader. The program starts (1st piece) with a show, us performing, and in doing so we notice each other in a new light for the first time. After the show, we spend a romantic evening together that lasts until the wee hours of the morning (the second and third pieces). The program is a lot of fun and I think that we’ve really learned to embrace our characters as we train it more and more”.
December 11: men’s practice at GPF Barcelona, with (a shadow of) Javier Fernandez on the left and Maxim Kovtun on the right.
December 11: Yuzuru Hanyu, aka The Phantom of the Opera, during practice in Barcelona.
December 11: time for the official competition to begin – the junior ice dancers take the ice for their short programs. In the spotlight: the Canadians Madeline Edwards and Zhao Kai Pang.
December 11: I’m surrounded by a sea of Japanese flags – and I love it. The junior Sota Yamamoto is already on the ice for his short program.
December 11: the Japanese lady in front of me is cheering for Sota Yamamoto at the (Junior) Grand Prix Final in Barcelona.
December 11: the Japanese Shoma Uno leaves the ice after his short program at GPF Barcelona – and what a performance! I’m already a fan.
December 11: the Canadians Julianne Seguin and Charlie Bilodeau are on the first place after junior pairs’ short programs and are answering to the journalists’ question in the mixed zone minutes after their performance.
December 11: happy girls at GPF Barcelona – Lina Fedorova and Maria Vigalova. With their partners (Maxim Miroshkin, Egor Zakroev), the Russian young ladies are on the second and third place after the junior pairs’ short programs.
December 11: the winning junior pairs in the mixed zone at GPF Barcelona. The placements after the short program will remain the same after the free: Julianne Seguin and Charlie Bilodeau (in the middle) will win the gold, Lina Fedorova and Maxim Miroshkin (left), the silver, and Maria Vigalova and Egor Zakroev (right), the bronze.
December 11: the (Senior) Grand Prix Final starts with the pairs’ short programs – and Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov are second after this particular segment of the event, behind the Canadians Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford. The Russians are talking to the journalists in the mixed zone minutes after their program.
December 12: another day at work in sunny Barcelona. And, yes, you can envy me.
December 12: the ice dancers take the ice for their practice – and I guess I’m utterly in love with both of Kaitlyn Weaver’s dresses. This one, for their flamenco short dance, is an absolute marvel. And Andrew’s suit, his traje de luces, is amazing too. Dare to contradict me.
December 12: these two are golden, trust my words. Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron, practicing their short dance at GPF Barcelona.
December 12: men’s practice at GPF Barcelona. Now that’s what I call a blurry photo, with (shadows of) Javier Fernandez, Yuzuru Hanyu and Takahito Mura practicing their short programs. Someone on Instagram amusingly wrote me: “Seriously, we, Hanyu’s fans, can identify him when his pics are blurry, fuzzy, tiny and distant. It’s both amusing and probably disturbing for his mum, hahaha…” The truth is the fans would recognize their favorite skaters in any circumstances; and here’s another certainty: there were people in the arena even during practices – and, to me, that’s an indicator of a competition’s success.
December 12: Javier Fernandez practicing his short program at GPF Barcelona. A few hours later, during the official competition, he will (unfortunately) fail to show his best version of “Black Betty”; the pressure of skating in front of the home crowd during such a major event hosted by Spain will take its toll.
December 12: Tatsuki Machida does a run-through of his short program to Fantasy for Violin and Orchestra by Hess. This has been Tatsuki’s last international event given his decision to retire from competitive skating after the Japanese Nationals.
December 12: the 13-year-old Wakaba Higuchi, winner of the bronze medal in the junior ladies’ event at GPF Barcelona, talks to the press in the mixed zone.
December 12: the junior ladies at the press conference – Serafima Sakhanovich (silver), Evgenia Medvedeva (gold) and Wakaba Higuchi (bronze)
December 12: oh, my, that was a wonderful free dance: Anna Yanovskaya and Sergey Mozgov are born to tango; the Russians won their second (Junior) Grand Prix Final title.
December 12: this giant Winnie Pooh will get to Yuzuru Hanyu later in the evening, during the men’s short programs.
December 12: a plushy jamon – what an inspired gift for the Spanish Javier Fernandez. The (flying) jamon will reach Javier after his short program at GPF Barcelona.
December 12: ladies and gentlemen, here’s the winner of the junior men’s event: the Japanese Shoma Uno.
December 12: silver and gold for Japan in the junior men’s event: Sota Yamamoto (silver) and Shoma Uno (gold) during the press conference.
December 12: Shoma Uno during the press conference: “The skater I most admire, although he’s retired, is Daisuke Takahashi”.
December 13: pairs’ morning practice at GPF Barcelona.
December 13: ladies’ practice at GPF Barcelona.
December 13: ice dancers’ practice at GPF Barcelona – Elena Ilinykh is wearing a black dress for the free dance. She’ll eventually use the white one at GPF and the black one at the Russian Nationals.
December 13: Madison Chock and Evan Bates, signing autographs and taking pictures with the fans at the end of their practice.
December 13: the 2014 Grand Prix Final champion, Yuzuru Hanyu, talking to the Japanese media in the press conference room.
December 14: there’s never such a thing as a dull moment at the CCIB arena; once again, Yuzuru Hanyu talking to the press, minutes before the Gala.
December 14: mob at the athletes’ entrance; lots of people, waiting for the skaters to show up.
Tiny pieces of Barcelona. A massive dose of figure skating, wonderful moments and wonderful new friends – what a week this has been! Thank you, Barcelona – and looking forward to an edition of Worlds hosted here.
A lovely souvenir from Barcelona: a cookie-skate.
An ingenious Kiss and Cry at GPF Barcelona, made of figure skating stars. I did recognize a few: Mao Asada, Ashley Wagner, Anna Pogorilaya, Julia Lipnitskaia, Daisuke Takahashi, Javier Fernandez, Sara Hurtado and Adria Diaz…
Daisuke Takahashi, as a snowflake, in the Kiss and Cry of GPF Barcelona.
My favorite snapshot from the men’s event at GPF Barcelona: Yuzuru Hanyu “taking a picture” of Javier Fernandez during the press conference after the free skate.
Joy: Yuzuru Hanyu and Javier Fernandez during the medals’ ceremony in Barcelona.
The champion, Yuzuru Hanyu, alongside Sara Hurtado (both in the background) – and a Japanese flag at GPF Barcelona.
A star is born: Shoma Uno at the Grand Prix Final in Barcelona.
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, winner of the gold medal in Barcelona, at the Grand Prix Final (during a practice session).
Children playing in snow in Barcelona. Well, the only patches of snow in town were those removed from the CCIB arena.
The end of story: at my comeback from the GPF, my 6-year-old niece Dora drew me a skate; a tiny, wonderful skate.