This title might cover the biggest part of the Men’s final in Sochi – but, let me tell you, there’s more to it than that. Here’s a short list of firsts (and repeats).
by Florentina Tone
Yuzuru Hanyu won the Olympic gold, making history for his country – this is Japan’s first Olympic gold in men’s figure skating, after the bronze won by Daisuke Takahashi four years ago, in Vancouver.
After the silver won at 2013 Worlds, Denis Ten managed to grasp the Olympic bronze in Sochi – the first Olympic medal in figure skating for Kazakhstan.
Four years after he coached Yuna Kim to the Olympic gold in Vancouver, Brian Order did it again with Yuzuru Hanyu. One thing is sure: the two-time Olympic silver medalist Brian Orser – Sarajevo-1984 and Calgary-1988 – is definitely one of the greatest coaches of the moment; if not the greatest. I still remember Yuzuru’s words when he chose Brian as a coach: “He lead Yuna Kim to gold”. And looking at Brian’s face, while Yuzuru was being called in the arena as the 2014 Olympic champion, one could easily spot a mixture of pride, joy and enthusiasm (and maybe even a little bit of sadness for his other student, Javier Fernandez) – definitely one of the most touching images of the night.
Four years after he lead Evan Lysacek to the Olympic gold in Vancouver, Frank Carroll won the Olympic bronze, through his student, Denis Ten of Kazakhstan. Though Denis skated early in the evening (he was ninth after the short), the coach spotted immediately the quality of the program. “Very good, excellent”, said Carroll to Denis at the end of the routine – and, in the end, his words were truly spoken.
Coming to Sochi, his second Winter Olympics, Patrick Chan was a serious contender to the Olympic gold; and a contender at breaking the so-called Canadian curse: Canada has never won a gold in men’s figure skating at the Winter Olympics. But though he had the chance of winning the brightest medal of all, especially with Yuzuru Hanyu leaving the door wide open, Chan crashed under pressure. The skater won the fifth Olympic silver for Canada, after Brian Orser in Sarajevo 1984 and Calgary 1988 and Elvis Stojko in Lillehammer 1994 and Nagano 1998.
As for me, the highlight of the night was Daisuke Takahashi’s Olympic performance. Struggling with doubts and a knee injury during the past months, the Japanese wanted to skate beautifully at his third Olympics; and, presumably, his last event as a competitive skater. He wanted to be vivid, full of power, confident in Sochi; and he definitely was all of the above. But, most of all, he was grateful and serene. And I absolutely loved the large smile on his face all along the routine; the Japanese skated his heart out – and even drew one in the air. Waiting for his scores, he looked happy and in peace with himself; and so was I, not caring a bit about his placement in the end. The Japanese skater already has an Olympic medal – and millions of fans worldwide; me among them. Of course, I’d want him to skate at the Worlds in Japan. But if he doesn’t, if this was really the end, I’d like to say just that: thank you, Daisuke Takahashi. You’ve been one of the biggest joys of my life as a figure skating fan.