I’d meant to get this up by last Saturday, but all I’ve been doing is code, code, and code! The last (and wordiest) installment of my 4CC trip✨!
So Gangneung isn’t pronounced with a G.
And it’s four hours away from the Incheon Airport. Thankfully you can get to the Gangneung Bus Terminal through an airport limousine (30 000 KRW/~1300 PHP per person, whew) that has some of the most comfortable seats I’ve experienced in my life, omg. It has a popup footrest!!! LIKE A LA-Z-BOY!!!!!! Unfortunately it was fully booked on the way back so we had to take a bus to Incheon instead, then take a cab to the airport which was… a bit of a hassle and not as comfortable, haha. But we managed! It was around the same price anyway.
It actually snowed a day or two before we arrived, so a lot of the scenery was covered in white. Naturally, it was cooooooold! But not as cold as New York was. Being by the beach and strong winds (Winnie-the-Pooh-and-the-Blustery-Day.mov) didn’t help much either. On some days it drizzled too, but my coat has a hood, so it wasn’t much of a bother. The weather was super dry and I ran out of my usual life-saving moisturizer (VMV’s Creammmy-Rich Intensive Moisture Milk if you were wondering, which costs a pretty penny but works beautifully in both dry and humid climates) so for the first few days I looked a bit like the sahara desert. There was a weird amount of sand (from sand bags tied to things to keep them from flying) around the vicinity of the ice arena, so when wind would get really strong, we’d get, uh, natural diamond peels.
We got lost on our first day. I found a doggo.
The arena looks like a Kabuto. It’s lit up with rainbow lights at night too! The arena’s nice because it has a lot of bathrooms and water refilling stations. They also handed out flags and banners for countries for spectators to use to support the athletes! They also sold a lot of Olympics items, and Soohorang and Bandabi were everywhere.
However I will never stop complaining about this BARRICADE at the arena. Go big or go home, I bought seats from the most expensive bracket, but my line of sight was obscured by glass! It’d make sense if this arena’s going to be used for hockey next year, but it isn’t. I wasn’t the only person frustrated by this too. It’s just so frustrating when you paid a bunch and get worse quality than people who paid less? Get it together, Pyeongchang! The only use it had was that it kept me from flying into the rink and throttling Yuzuru Hanyu when he popped his quadruple salchow in the men’s short program※.
※ This is obviously a joke. I wouldn’t hurt a fly.
So. Why do I watch figure skating?
I find the math (yes, scoring math) a lot of fun. I love seeing good choreography, interpretation, transitions, and skating skills. It’s also fun figuring out what you personally like and dislike in a skater’s skating, in a program, etc. etc. Some people like tech more, some people like components more. Some people have… er, unique tastes.
Honestly? I feel like watching figure skating is a very personal experience. Sure, tech is important, reputation (I guess) is important, but ultimately what matters is finding something that moves you. I think it’s a matter of witnessing a moment—not necessarily something perfect—but something imbued with so much feeling that it speaks to you. Even if you don’t understand scoring. Even if you don’t know what the heck a quadruple salchow is. It’s a feeling that’s difficult to describe. I think it’s a moment where the skater’s feelings successfully get relayed to the audience? Everything just clicks. Whatever it is, when you experience THAT moment, you’re hooked.
I only started watching figure skating in 2014. For me, that moment was Mao Asada’s free at the Sochi Olympics. I’d cried so hard when she finished (though I think a lot of people did the same). Shortly after that I discovered Akiko Suzuki—my ultimate favourite, whose programs from 2011-2012 and 2013-2014 can easily bring me to tears. I remember watching her skate at Worlds 2014 while at a sleepover and hiccuping and sobbing like a baby. Watching skating has me chasing these faint glimmers in hopes of finding a moment, but honestly? These moments are rare.
But I had another one at this year’s Four Continents Championship. If only for Wenjing Sui and Cong Han’s free skate, this entire trip had been worth it.
I don’t even know what to say or where to begin. It wasn’t technically perfect (fall and sbs spins aside their quadruple twist in the warmup was a lot better, a lot snappier), but there’s just such an expressive quality to it that can bring you to tears, especially if you know that they’ve been out the entire season because of injuries. It’s just such a good program, so timely, and so perfect for them. And of course, they’re just so good. They make it looks so effortless, and they don’t lose speed going in and out of their elements. The camerawork just doesn’t do them any justice. That spread-eagle at the end uuuuuuhhhhhhuuuuhuhuhuhu 8___8
I really wanted to see them live at GPF when I went but they withdrew, so I’m thankful I got to see them this time. It’s a little OTT, but from the spread-eagle all the way to the end of the victory ceremony I was in tears HAHA (they’re the bridge over troubled waters aka THE TEARS ON MY UGLY CRYING FACE!!!!!)
So pretty much no one else gave me the same level of feelings at this comp (sorry, guys!) but here are some special mentions!
- Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir have some of my favourite programs of the season (minus the Latch portion of their free dance, idk man I am old and tired lol) and I’m glad I got to see them live! Unfortunately I don’t think they had the same level of fire to them as they did at previous competitions, but they really are just on a different level. Despite the different energy level, their programs didn’t really have any dull moments.
- The Shibutanis have my favourite short dance of the season (for actually sticking with the theme, lmao) though admittedly it can have its lull moments. Their free dance isn’t one of my faves nor is it too memorable for me (vs. Fix You from last season), but they performed it really, really well here.
- Shout out to Hew-Low/McKernan for skating to Kanye and Song/Sun for skating to Beyonce, tbh. WHEN WILL YOUR FAVES!!!
- Ricky Kam.
- lmao, Canada.
- Peng/Jin’s short program is a gift to us all. I was the only one laughing (audience pls) but it’s a ton of fun!
- Michael Christian Martinez lost steam going into his step sequence during the short program BUT his speed was so much more consistent in the free. I actually really like both of MCM’s programs a lot this season—interesting music choices with choreo that really shows off his abilities.
- I’m so glad I got to see Boyangman live tbh. I live for the shoulder shimmy and it’s just as charming in person as I thought it would be )))): I love my beansprout nephew. I’m so sad I didn’t get to see Cowboyang though 😥
- but seriously lmao, men.
- Mira Nagasu is the queen of this field. ~Gesturing at the judges on cue with the music is #iconic tbh.
- Mai Mihara was completely clean on both days for ladies’! She’s been terrifyingly consistent. Ioana told me that she had been diagnosed with a kind of arthritis so she’s :’) so happy to be skating :’))) I never felt really strongly for her before (from her batch of juniors, my fave has always been Yuna Shiraiwa) but she’s creeping into my heart.
- Elizabet Tursynbaeva continues to be one of the CUTEST with her short program, but she really tried Rippon-ing every single jump she had. Some might think that the only way to Beat The Russians™️ is to become a Russian, but coach Brian Orser, after her free skate, told her otherwise. (“The judges don’t like it when you do that,” he said, and if only it were true.)
- They had a scoring guide. It was surreal.
Gala lighting was very Russian avant-garde. I loved it lol
Haha oh gosh, there was one really, really terrible moment for me during the exhibition though. It was okay for the most part, I got to see one of my fave exhibitions (self-indulgently Chock/Bates’ Everybody’s Free to Wear Sunscreen), Shoma making butterfly motions to Niall Horan’s crooning, and Yuzuru’s lovely ex but.
Oh gosh, Yuzuru’s exhibition. lol. omg you see the problem with me is that I’m very sensitive to sensory stimuli! I’ve always hated loud noises and I’m bad with bright lights and staring at screens too long, for example. I’m also really, really bad with physical contact. Ohhhh gosh.
Well the exhibition had the arena filled to the brim. A lot of the spectators probably don’t watch figure skating on the regular so they’d go “ooh” and “ahhh” at the smallest, oddest things (like scratch spins, lmao) but I think that that’s fun! Oh but dang, when Yuzuru finished skating the entire arena was in hysterics. It was really awful, haha. Flashing lights, screaming and shrieking from all sides, being stuck in a dark, cramped seat, having everyone moving excessively and someone kicking my seat… it was a Lot lol. I ended up having a panic attack and cried all the way from when he finished to the gala finale. Sure, there was shrieking and screaming at GPF, but the seats here are clustered closer together and somehow the crowd just seemed so much rowdier;;; Really scary.
BECAUSE OF THAT I MISSED VIRTUE/MOIR’S CHEESY CANADIAN EX;;;;; lol
ALSO!! Yuna Kim was there. She awarded the ladies’ medals and gave a speech during the gala! There was a photo area at the arena where people could take photos with… her photo. HAHA my seat was too far to get any good photos of her but oh gosh, she’s so lovely;;;
And I was within 10 meters of Daisuke Takahashi! I probably shrieked internally for like 5 years tbh. That’s Shizuka Arakawa next to him but she didn’t look our way. Goooosh they’re all so pretty. Gosh. My heart was hammering in my chest from the thought that I was breathing the same air as they were <o>______<o>
AAAAND THAT’S A WRAP!! It’s my finals next week so after that hopefully (HOPEFULLY!!) I’ll be updating more regularly :3c! Still many papers to write and tests to take so I will see you later! 😀