Warning: Sochi Spoilers. Yeah, that’s how you’re supposed to do it, right?
As February drones on, and my thoughts shift towards spring, I feel as though I’m being constantly bombarded by one topic: Sochi 2014.
I probably wasn’t even aware the Olympics were a thing until high school, and even then, I didn’t really hear much about it, unless my mom happened to be watching the news recap while I was in the room. But it seems as though now that I’m in the “adult world” the Olympics is a topic of conversation, and I have to admit seems like a very “adult” thing to do, much like talking about stocks and mergers.
But luckily, I’ve never been completely bored by the Olympics, and I’ve always found something to latch on to. And this year, it’s the Winter Olympics, meaning I’ve found that one thing: ice skating.
I have a little bit of history with ice skating. Before all the girls were obsessed with Ice Princess and the charms of underdog Michelle Trachtenberg, I learned all about ice skating from my older cousin. Since we’re both only children, we spent a lot of time together, and one of her hobbies was ice skating. And of course, since she was my senior, I thought she was the coolest person on the planet and wanted to do everything she did, and in return she saw that I was at her mercy. So I watched Michelle Kwan perform on TV. I learned what it meant to land a triple Salchow. I learned how to skate, her holding my hand as I clumsily slid over the ice, never as graceful or beautiful as she.
Recently, I went ice skating on a lake for the first time, and while terrified, I was exhilarated. While I was probably much better as a child at skating since I had at minimum three teachers (my cousin, my aunt, and my dad, who was probably the least helpful since he’d skate backwards and ask me why I couldn’t copy him), I still didn’t fall on the ice, and, when I didn’t realize how fast I was going, could actually skate from one part of the lake to the other. But I was still shaky, and still completely sure that the ice would break and I’d become the next Jack Frost. Ice skating is hard, and anyone who tells you differently needs a slap in the face.
So with all the Sochi talk, I’ve overheard this and that, but only the ice skating has stuck out to me. And something huge happened a few days ago.
Yuzuru Hanyu, a 19 year old skater from Japan, has taken home the Gold Medal in Men’s Figure Skating, being the second youngest and first ever from Japan. He set a new world record with his score in the Men’s Short Program of 101, and has garnered national attention for the battle he fought between Canada’s Patrick Chan.
Now, to be quite honest, I think a lot of people are focusing on something besides his performance. At 19, Hanyu is first and foremost a teenager, and when told he won first, is completely shocked and thrilled at his win (as any 19 year old would be) and in the process he has been very gif-worthy. But because these adorable gifs of his reactions floating on the internet, I decided to check out his performance in order to see exactly why he won.
I couldn’t find his Sochi performance at the time, and even now it’s in poor quality on some off-websites, so when I first saw him skate I watched his Grand Prix performance, and it might as well been the Olympics (he used the same performance). From start to finish, I was completely mesmerized. From his gravity defying and perfectly landed jumps, to the fact that his choreography was so complex I thought he was going to trip over his own skates, I was completely floored. The focus and intensity on his face doesn’t match the cute gifs. His fluidity and charisma however matches his amazing score. Since then I’ve been watching various other performances of his, and while he does make mistakes and fall like other skaters, there’s just something about his performances that make it worthwhile, where I can’t look away.
And that’s where I think this sport completely coincides with art. It’s no secret that ice dancing portion is the more artistic of the two, however I can’t help but to see the beauty in every jump Hanyu makes – and trust me, most of his jumps are flawless. And the fact that I’ve seen parts of the internet rally around him, people who would normally root for American or even Canadian skaters, makes me believe even more strongly that art, in its many forms and figures, brings people together.
So congratz, Yuzuru. You have accomplished something in a million years I could never do. And congratz for bringing the world together for just one moment as you skated beautifully on the ice.
Shout out also to Charlie White and Meryl Davis for not only being awesome Wolverines and repping the blue, but for also winning the first gold medal ever for Ice Dance for Team USA.