Kite: And now we’re going to talk about some of the most iconic programs from 2000 and beyond.
Kat: Yeah and like. We each picked one program from each discipline which meant a lot of our faves got cut but for the interest of time, like…we know that we didn’t get everyone’s favourite programs on this list and we’re sorry in advance but we had to limit it
Iman: Like iconic is a pretty loaded term but… you know obviously figure skating is subjective and our favourite programs may not be yours and that’s perfectly fine because everyone has their own opinion.
Lo: Alright so the first program I picked for the ladies was Michelle Kwan’s Tosca, specifically the performance at the 2004 Nationals. So good, it was one of her very best performances ever which is really saying something coming from her. It has my favourite step sequence from her and I’m a big step sequence lover so, you know, for me that’s super important and it’s one of her best. It’s straight line, she kind of does a running thing… that’s not very technical but
Kat: I love it. I love running step sequences, we don’t get much of those anymore
Lo: Me too, and it’s not rewarded as much anymore under the current judging system which is a shame because it’s an iconic moment. And she just leaves her whole heart out there, it’s one of her greatest moments. She’s just an iconic skater for me, she has the best spirals I’ve ever seen, I’ll not debate on that, she’s the queen of spirals, the end, goodbye.
Kat: I love her face at the very end of that program, she’s like ‘Yeah, I did that.’
Lo: Yeah she’s fierce.
Kite: She knew.
Iman: She knew she just did that.
Kat: I mean she’s the GOAT for a reason. (Lo: At least the GOAT of American Ladies)
Iman: Also she has…you know, five times world champion. Wow.
Lo: Five times world champion. She did not finish off the podium from 1994 to 2005, I want to say, something like that.
Iman: She’s a powerhouse. It’s fantastic
Lo: Unbelievable, she’s amazing. Please if you’re a newer fan and are unfamiliar with her, please watch some of her performances, please. Just do it for me.
Kite: Do it for Lo.
Iman: If you’re a new fan of figure skating, she’s definitely one of those people you need to watch because she’s so iconic in the sport, for women’s.
Kat: She’s like universally beloved.
Iman: If you don’t like her, I don’t like you.
Kat: Yeah that’s some really bad taste–
Kite: No shade, no shade
Lo: I’ll block you, goodbye, you’re not my friend anymore.
Kat: My program for the Ladies’ was Yuna Kim’s 2010 Olympic Free Skate “Gershwin Rhapsody in F”. Oh man, I have so many favorite Yuna programs, like, I was thinking between this one and also Danse Macabre, but then I ended up picking Gershwin just because - I just think that this particular piece of music is just so incredibly abstract, which I think makes it so much harder to interpret and yet I love it so much. I’m usually not such a huge fan of really, really abstract music, but Yuna’s skating to it just highlights her musicality and her incredible interpretation skills so well. She just sells every moment and she just looks like she’s freestyling through some of it, and, you know, on top of doing some of the most difficult elements, like the Ina Bauer into the double axel, it’s just amazing. And then considering the circumstances of that moment - we talk about iconic programs in terms of the program itself but also in terms of the circumstances, like, why are they so well known through history? Maybe it’s at the Olympics, it was an Olympic moment, this was an Olympic moment for sure. You know, she was under so much pressure -
Lo: One of the best Olympic performances ever.
Kat: Yeah, I’m pretty sure that’s what Sandra Bezic said too, you know.
Lo: It was and it - it genuinely was. It’s one of the most memorable for me. She had so much pressure on her, she was the unanimous favorite going in, she had her entire country watching her and she just delivered on the best possible -
Iman: Oh, what a way to deliver. What a way to deliver.
Kat: Yeah, I always thought that Yuna was like the definition of how technique lends itself to artistry, she had perfect jumps, gorgeous spins, incredible musicality, (Kite: Textbook jumps) textbook, yeah.
Kite: Her opening triple lutz triple - oh my -
Iman: The height on her jumps is just phenomenal.
Kite: She doesn’t hesitate, (Kat: Yeah) it’s incredible.
Iman: She really doesn’t, that’s another thing that I love about Yuna is how seamless her skating is, like you’ll see - it doesn’t seem like this is choreographed, it just seems like she just got on the ice and it was just off the top of her head (Kat: Exactly) and she’s just going.
Kat: Interpretation through the roof.
Kite: It feels like she’s painting on a blank canvas, is the way I view that program.
Kat: I totally agree with that metaphor just because, like, the abstract nature of the music and the way that she moves across the ice, you know.
Kite: And to see her face at the end, like, Yuna was always a pretty stoic competitor, you know, back in the -
Kat: You knew that that was a big moment, yeah.
Kite: Yeah, like, just watching her finally break down was - it’s indescribable.
Kat: Still the benchmark to me for a 150+.
Kite: Absolutely, like, yeah, the scoring system has changed since then, but -
Lo: It holds up, it holds up.
Kat: It held up for 6 years, right?
Iman: I feel like if she performed that today she would still have been able to, you know, hold up against the newer skaters. And that just shows how good she is, (Kite: Timeless) if she went back into competition today, she would be able to hold up against these, you know, younger girls and that’s just so amazing and I just love Yuna - I’m sorry, ok, continue.
Kat: No, I think we’re good. (Laughs).
Kite: So I’m going to talk about another Olympic ladies free skate which is quite bittersweet. It was Mao Asada’s Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No 2 which she skated in Sochi and… oh, where do I begin with this. To turn on your TV on the day of the free skate and see Mao Asada sitting in 16th place after the short program…
Kite: In no world that I lived in did I ever imagine anything like that would ever happen and we knew she had been struggling with the triple axel all season, like we knew it was inconsistent. But just to see her so devastated after that short program.
Iman: Yeah, it’s sort of one of those moments where it’s like ‘you could have had it all’ - not Adele - she could have been on the podium but just, you know, after the short program and - as Kite said - you see she was in 16th place and it’s like ‘what universe am I living in, this is fake, this isn’t right.’
Kat: So similar to seeing Nathan like that you know, except with Mao, she knew this was most likely going to be her last Olympics. I don’t want to project so far ahead since it’s 4 years from now but–he’s so young.
Lo: Well he’s planning to go to 2022.
Kat: He’s planning to go for it but you know Mao, at the time, she was twenty…four?
Lo: She was 23, she was my age.
Kat: Yeah. And being 27 and a ladies single skater is obviously still doable, like, Carolina exists.
Lo: Shoutout to Caro, I love her. (general cries of love)
Kat: We love her. But you don’t know at that point like. Your chances slim down and she knew it was the best chance to get the Olympic gold and, you know, to see her redemption.
Kite: And she had nothing to lose at this point. Like she stuck with her planned layout even though it hadn’t really worked out for her at all in the previous season ever. I mean, she hit every jump, we know that for a fact. But it’s really the final step sequence, I think, that just– I will say this. Like. I will say: best ladies step sequence ever.
Lo: I agree.
Kite: Because she’s been so…she’s just incredibly musical and we knew that already but just to see–
Iman: Her musicality is off the charts. You see her skating and…she feels the music and then she makes you– You feel whatever she’s feeling just because of the way she’s skating. It’s hard to explain but just watching her skate, it was like knowing what she’s been through with the short program and how there really was no way, you know, for her to podium–
Lo: And even just her life, her entire career, how she had to work up her jumps from the start, how she’s kind of always been low-balled in PCS throughout her career, in my opinion. Even her personal struggles and just seeing it all come together in that moment, for her to truly just let out her emotions, was incredibly moving. It makes me cry almost every time I watch it. It’s beautiful, it’s wonderful, it’s Mao, I love her.
Iman: Especially her face at the end.
Lo: Her face at the end, oh my goodness.
Kite: That’s an Olympic moment. When you think of an Olympic moment, that’s what I picture.
Iman: So the program that I chose was for Yulia Lipnitskaya and it was her short program for Rostelecom with Les Fueilles Mortes - I’m butchering that, I’m sorry if I butchered that to all the French speakers out there. I just, you know… my biggest problem with most Russian ladies skaters is that I don’t feel anything when I watch them skate right. That doesn’t seem important it’s just like, you just watch for the technicality and stuff, right? But you know those people aren’t really the ones that are remembered later on in the years for their technicality. Figure skating is also a very artistic sport. So Yulia she– okay first of all, let’s get the technical stuff out of the way: her jumps were perfect, her spins…amazing, her flexibility just-
Kat: Oh through the roof, that hyperextended Biellmann.
Kite: It frightens me just a little bit but in a good way.
Iman: Her extension is just… she has one of the best extensions out there, don’t fight me. She’s so flexible and she uses it, right, she uses it to help her with her skating. Coming off of how everything else going on in her life and after the Olympics, and how her skating career sort of took a bit of a nosedive because of health reasons, and her coach and everything - just to see her come out and skate how people remembered her skating. Everything about her program is so graceful and so seamless, and just, she’s floating on the ice and just watching her just brings joy to me because her musicality is phenomenal.
Kat: She’s just incredible, yeah. I always did feel, even when she was just 15 years old, that Yulia did have a lot of innate musicality. She had beautiful arm movements, her spins were really gorgeous. It was definitely, you know, a lot more unpolished by the time she reached Rostelecom, but you could still see that musicality come out.
Lo: I feel like her skating skills had just improved immensely, even from the Olympics two years before - she improved quite a bit in just those two years, it was really beautiful to see.
Iman: Also the variations in her spins are always a joy to watch.
Lo: She has the most wonderful positions.
Iman: She really does, she really does.
Kat: Yeah, her spins are incredible.
Lo: Ok, so, for the men I chose Daisuke Takahashi’s “Swan Lake”, aka Cyberswan (Chorus of cheers). Basically I could’ve chosen literally anything Dai ever did because he is just the best, but I went with Cyberswan just because - if there is one program that I love to show people who aren’t really into figure skating, this is the one. It’s so entertaining, it’s so unique, the step sequence is obviously just - it’s iconic - and there are two of them. There’s two different footwork sequences and they’re both just - he’s a rockstar. He just completely owned it, it’s so innovative, there’s never been anything like it before, there hasn’t been anything like it since, nobody can do that but him. He’s the king, I love him.
Iman: That’s something I love about his program, it’s because he added a variation - a hip hop variation to a classic and he made it work, it wasn’t cringy. You see some programs where they try to mash in different types of music and it just doesn’t work, and, you know, his costume, (Kite: Yep, that was a lot, it was a lot of costume) and obviously his footwork. Listen, the hair? The hair was amazing. (Kite: But it worked!)
Kat: It worked so well, yeah. You don’t see a lot of hip hop in figure skating, let alone hip hop variations.
Kite: A hip hop warhorse? Amazing.
Lo: He literally remixed it with Beyoncé. God bless him. And he looks like a Johnny’s idol. Everything you could want, so entertaining, so genuinely good, his jumps were at his best at that point, in my opinion.
Iman: And just his charisma (Lo: Unparalleled), his charisma throughout his whole performance, because I feel, like, had anyone else done that performance it would’ve been so strange, because he had that smug look on his face and he was just like ‘you know what, I know what I’m doing right now and I know that I’m amazing you’ and that just makes you enjoy the performance even more, because it’s just, like, this dude is doing that and no one else can do that.
Lo: One of my favorite things about it is just the crowd, it’s just - they’re just losing their minds like they’re at a concert or something and it’s so cool, he just brings that reaction out of you, he was so special.
Iman: It’s so amazing. You know, honestly, if I was in that crowd I would have lost it as well, I would’ve cried.
Lo: Wouldn’t we all? He deserves it, he deserved every single thing. He’s the king of musicality. Whenever someone asks for a definition of musicality in figure skating, I find it hard to say, so I’ll just say ‘just watch a Dai program and you’ll understand’. He feels it, he feels it in every movement. God bless him. I love him.
Kat: My men’s program, I just had to include, Alexei Yagudin’s ‘Winter’ from the 2002 Olympics. Yes, I know that it’s really really famous.
Iman: It’s famous for a reason!
Kat: Yeah, it’s famous for a reason.
Kite: There’s a reason that 16 years later we still talk about it.
Kat: I mean, it has such iconic footwork. Like, he was such a footwork master. Back in the 6.0 system there was a lot more flexibility with footwork, it gave the skaters a lot more artistic liberty with the step sequences - even though it didn’t necessarily mean that skaters took advantage of that.
Lo: No, that should always be mentioned. There was a lot of garbage.
Kat: He did. And I just love step sequences that make use of edges and toe picks.
Kite: His toe pick. So clean.
Kat: So clean.
Iman: Just as soon as he goes into that step sequence everyone just goes wild, because they know they’re seeing something.
Kat: It was lit!
Kite: It was lit, the only way to describe it was lit.
Kat: I have mad respect for anyone who skates to Europop. I also love that he just bends down and throws snow in the air.
Iman: Oh my god, it’s so dramatic! It’s amazing. He’s just like throwing snow everywhere and you’re just like ‘What the hell is going on?’
Kite: ‘This is happening at the Olympics, okay’
Kat: Now, obviously, with the IJS, everyone is concerned with getting level 4’s on their step sequences - you need to have 11 different difficult turns and steps, which means there’s less toe picking cause you need to get those turns in and difficult steps.
Iman: That’s so disappointing.
Kat: So Winter’s step sequence is probably not going to score super high under IJS, which is unfortunate, because we’re sacrificing the aesthetic for the points.
Iman: Not even just the aesthetic, because like, it’s not exactly an easy step sequence.
Lo: No, it’s still very difficult.
Kite: Literally like half of it is on his toes.
Iman: Exactly, his use of his toe picks - you see him and his feet are just wild. You look at his feet and you’re just like ‘What is going on? What is going on?’ It’s just his toe picks, back and forth. And if you don’t have good control of your toe picks -
Kite: You’re gonna to go flying.
Iman: You’re gonna go flying. You’re going to fall flat on your face. But you know what, he didn’t, because -
Lo: He’s the king.
Kite: So my pick for men’s program was actually Jeff Buttle’s Adios Nonino from 2008 Worlds. It was his short program, and it’s not as well known as either Cyberswan or Winter. But I found it iconic because just of the music cut he used, that Adios Nonino is a tango music. I would consider it a warhorse, personally, it is used quite frequently in skating.
Lo: It’s warhorse adjacent.
Kite: But he actually kind of strays a little bit from the traditional path of how this music sounds and uses an all piano version, which makes it a lot more romantic. And so the way he interprets is quite different - he doesn’t really interpret it as a tango so much as like a ballet, and so his movements across the ice are very balletic. You can see especially in the step sequence the influence his skating has on the choreography that he does now.
Lo: Definitely, he passes it down.
Kite: And I personally feel like Jeff is kind of overlooked.
Iman: Oh yeah, he’s definitely overlooked. People appreciate him for his choreography, but with his skating, I feel like he had some of the best posture -
Kat: He had beautiful footwork.
Iman: Beautiful footwork, and also his posture. A lot of people don’t look at the posture of skaters, and some skaters have - it’s not awful posture, obviously, but you see Jeff while he skates his posture is fantastic.
Kite: He was quite close to the total package, I think. His jumps were strong, his spins were good, interpretation was incredible. It’s really a shame that he’s not appreciated more as a skater, especially in Canada, because right after Jeff, Patrick Chan came along - and I think he tends to kind of get overlooked, and I think this program is really a testament to the fact that he was a great skater, as well as a world famous choreographer now.
Iman: So the program that I chose for men’s, it’s very important to me. It’s very near and dear to my heart, and I feel like it encapsulates men’s figure skating. The program I chose is Plushenko’s ‘Sex Bomb’
(Chorus of laughter)
Kite: Wow, I can’t believe I have to leave now! It’s been real, guys.
Lo: Wow… True art, beauty.
Iman: No, no, it’s a joke. I’m joking, I would never. That program is abysmal. The program I chose is ‘Guys and Dolls’ by Javier Fernandez, and this is one of my favourite programs by him. First of all, when Javi skated this he wasn’t able to get his boot on - his skate on beforehand and he just goes on and performs this fantastic program, and everyone was just going wild about it. First of all, the crowd, they stood up before he even finished, and it made sense why because all his jumps were all perfect - pitch perfect. His landings, the air position - every single thing was amazing. His choreography was playful, it was charismatic. His skating has this charm, which is hard to see. People talk about skaters that are more feminine, and skaters that are more masculine - I feel like Javi’s one of those skaters that has a perfect mixture of both, because he’s not clunky like some skaters are, he has that grace that people see in more feminine male skaters. And this is one of those programs where the lyrics actually work with the whole entire program. He has this suaveness to him, this charisma. His musicality is great, and I feel like people sort of brush that off for him, even though he’s fantastic with that. His choreo was fantastic, and overall you just see - it’s just such an enjoyable program to watch, and then you see him. He wasn’t always the favourite to win, you know, he’s never the favourite-
Lo: Except for Euros, he’s the Euro god.
Iman: Well, listen, that’s Euros. Euros, he’s the king of Euros.
Lo: Forever Euro champion.
Iman: He is my Euro champion forever and ever. It’s just, he was not the favourite to win, and there was a reason behind it, but he just came out and skated like it was an exhibition. It was so nonchalant, it felt like he just came on and he was just being playful, and flirting with the crowd - and the crowd was obviously loving it, and the judges were obviously loving it, and you see the score he gets and you’re like ‘you know, he deserves it.’ It was just such a fantastic program.
Lo: One of the best performers I’ve ever seen, he brings it every time. He has so much charisma, so much charm, super likeable - everything that’s good.
Kat: Onto the pairs, Lo, you wanna start us off?
Lo: Okay so the pair I’m going to talk about, and I’m really sorry to anyone who might be Russian cause I know that I’m going to butcher this name. I’ll be talking about (Anton) Sikharulidze and (Elena) Berezhnaya’s short program in 2002, that was Lady Caliph. For me, this pair is mostly known now for being at the centre of the Salt Lake City judging scandal, which is really a shame because they are so beautiful together. They’re the most in-sync, in unison pairs team I think I’ve ever seen in my life. They have such gorgeous chemistry, they look like they’re just falling in love out on the ice - when people say that about (Tessa) Virtue and (Scott) Moir all the time, that’s how I feel about these two. So gorgeous, the jumps are super good for the era, the death spirals - I prefer the death spirals of the 6.0 era, I think they’re more aesthetically pleasing, and these ones are very much the case as well. And my biggest skating hot take ever, probably, is that I don’t necessarily care that much about the Salt Lake City scandal! Because-
Kat: Oh gosh.
Iman: Lo, bringing the heat!
Lo: Hot take, I do care about -
Iman: Lo’s about to get blocked.
Kite: Catch this blockt.
Lo: I’m about to get blocked by all of Canada, but sorry, these guys deserved to win the first time - they did. Like no offense to the Canadian pair, they just weren’t as good - even with the judging nonsense.
Iman: I’m sort of disappointed that when you showed us this that was the first time I saw it. I’ve been watching figure skating for four years, why have I not ventured back more and seen this? Cause whenever I heard about them it was just always something negative, and then I see them performing and it’s just like - their spins are perfect, they’re so in sync.
Lo: They’re beautiful together, they’re wonderful
Kat: Definitely deserved to win the short program, it was above and beyond.
Lo: They definitely deserved that. And also, shout out to the costumes (Kat: So gorgeous) - those costumes, the colour that they chose, like the nude.
Kat: They’re programs in general were just a lot more intricate, I think, than the Canadian’s - (Jamie) Salé and (David) Pelletier. And, I just really really love that it was just so intricate and musical, and yet they still had so much chemistry, and the technical elements were also really really strong as well - and it’s a shame that they get looked over a lot.
Kat: My favorite pair of all time, everyone who knows me knows that they’re my favorite pair of all time, it’s Shen [Xue] and Zhao [Hongbo]. Their 2003 World Championship Free Skate to “Turandot”, it’s, like, it’s iconic. It’s the OG Turandot, I think.
Lo: The best.
Kite: It should’ve been retired after this, honestly.
Kat: Yeah, honestly.
Lo: Except for Shizuka [Arakawa], Shizuka could skate to it too.
Kat: True, true. But, like, Shen and Zhao deserve a royalty every time it’s skated to.
Kite: Yeah, you gotta credit them.
Kat: Shen and Zhao are probably the most iconic pair of the 2000s, they were dominant for so long. I mean, it was basically - this was the program that introduced me to Pairs, when I was eight years old, seven years old. I didn’t know Pairs was a discipline until I saw Shen and Zhao. They have such incredible chemistry - they did eventually end up getting married, but this was before they even started dating. I feel like they were one of the most complete pairs of the 2000s - they had amazing throws, amazing musicality - honestly, anyone who says that East Asian skaters are not expressive, like, go watch that program and come back to me.
Iman: Honestly, the quality wasn’t even - the quality [of the video] was not good and I could still see that they were very expressive.
Kite: It was, like, filmed on a potato and it’s -
Kat: It’s so unfortunate because this was the same program that they used the previous year, in 2002, and there’s a high quality version of that video on Youtube.
Kite: That’s infuriating.
Kat: Yeah. But the program itself - I really enjoy that they use a unique music cut, actually. They include the kind of Chinese influenced music in the middle of that track, that people very rarely include. It allowed for a lot - for a little bit more creativity with the choreography. The lifts, so gorgeous - I think that 6.0 lifts were a lot more aesthetically pleasing, I’m not really a huge fan of the whole grabbing blades thing, I like the open look, you know, with the legs out, (Lo: I agree) whatever, I’m not gonna get too salty about that. And then the Nessun Dorma part, oh my God, gets me so emo.
Kite: Just the music gets me emotional.
Iman: Honestly, as soon as the Nessun Dorma part hits, I feel like - I get chills and I get emotional, it’s so beautiful.
Kat: And the crowd’s reaction - they start applauding and they get a standing ovation, like, thirty seconds before they even end, and you can hear them - once they finish the program, you can hear the crowd chanting ‘six, six, six, six’ in the background - and this was in D.C., so it wasn’t even a hometown crowd, you know? And, like, this skate - this piece was so legendary that Sui [Wenjing] and Han [Cong] used it for their Olympic skate, obviously - and they even had to ask permission to skate to it! And Zhao Hongbo said “yeah, you can skate to it, but you have to skate to it better than we did”. (Laughs). That’s why I really didn’t mind that Sui and Han were using it, I knew that this piece was so integral to the Chinese Pairs legacy, and, like, Wenjing said that she was inspired to skate by watching them skate Turandot in the 2002 Olympics, so that just shows the magnitude, and, like - before we even move on I just wanna quickly go on a Pairs spiel because they make me super emotional for so many reasons, but their coach, Yao Bin, was the first ever Chinese Pairs skater and he learned to skate through photographs, because, you know, China was censoring Western images and all of that, so they really couldn’t get a lot of material to learn. He was bad, he was pretty bad - he went to Worlds three times in the 80s and placed dead last each time - it was really really sad. There were stories about how they were laughed off the ice and they were actually really really funny, but after he retired he was like ‘nope, screw that, I’m gonna turn China into a Pairs powerhouse’, and then twenty years later, Shen and Zhao became the first Chinese pair to ever win an Olympic medal in Pairs and the first to win a World title, so, you know (Lo: Yes!), even though the 2003 Worlds - where they won their second World title - is the most famous iteration, it feels like the culmination of all of their hard work, because they kind of messed up in 2002 a little bit. I just really love the image of Yao Bin crying when they finished, it just really gets me.
Iman: I just, when you see, you know a grown man like that cry after seeing that performance, like, ‘you know what, this is beautiful, this is amazing’. After you see that performance and it’s just, you know you’re just blown away by the chemistry between those two, like you know i’m not surprised that they got married but the use of music, their musicality, their jumps, spins, everything, it’s just so, just the whole package was just so robust like, you know what, this is pairs skating should be like.
Iman: And that’s saying something.
Lo: I have to say that this program also gave me my all-time favorite commentating moment, when the British E(uro)sports guys saw that one of the judges rank them second in ordinals and threatened to spank them. So good! Completely right, amazing. So, yeah, that’s my favorite commentary moment ever, it probably will never be topped. It’s just the most accurate.
Kite: So, I’m actually going to talk about another Chinese pair, Pang (Qing)/Tong (Jian), and I’m going to talk about their 2010 Olympic free skate to ‘Man of La Mancha’
Kat: Another tear jerker.
Kite: This is actually another one of Yao Bin’s pairs,
Kat: Yao Bin outsold!
Kite: So if we want to talk about how two of his pairs made it onto the Olympic podium in 2010, we can wild about that, but I mean overall it’s just an extremely well constructed program, I thought. It really hit all of the emotional heights of that music.
Kat: Absolutely deserved to win the free skate that night. Honestly, Vancouver 2010 was just so good to us, like wow.
Kite: Certain events were good to us.
Iman: I wasn’t there for it, unfortunately, but I look back at it.
Kite: That was actually the first time I ever watched skating was during Vancouver 2010, that I can remember.
Kat: 2010 was the first time I ever actively rooted for someone. I was so so hoping that Shen and Zhao would win, and that Pang and Tong would be on the podium - and they ended up being one and two! Which is like 30 years after Yao Bin failed miserably at Worlds (Iman: He outsold!) he ended up coaching the gold and silver medallists, and the Russian’s didn’t even make the podium - he literally ended, I think, 12 straight Olympics of Russian/Soviet pair dominance.
Iman: The costumes with the music, I feel like it added to the whole entire performance. I feel like a lot of time people sort of think costume’s are sort of an aesthetic thing, but sometimes it’s really not - but that’s for a seperate podcast where I will cry about costumes.
Kat: Pang and Tong outsold, Shen and Zhao outsold, so did Yao Bin.
Kite: Good talk.
Iman: Just Chinese pairs outsold.
Lo: They have amazing chemistry - also got married, by the way.
Kat: Yep, yep.
Iman: Okay, speaking of Chinese pairs…
Kite: 75 percent.
Kat: Chinese pairs outsold!
Iman: Alright so I chose ‘Blues for Klook’ and it’s Sui (Wenjing) and Han (Cong), and this program is just so sensual. First of all, technical aspects out of the way, their jumps were fantastic - they were so in sync. I feel like the performance was made because these two have such an amazing chemistry. First of all, the music piece they chose, again, it’s very sensual and when they skated it - I could keep watching that forever because it was so perfectly done. Every single musical cue, every spin - I can’t talk about this because I always get so emo because I’m just like ‘Ugh this is just so amazing.” But please, do add on because I’m just going off on a strange tangent.
Lo: I will say that they were inspired by my king, Daisuke Takahashi, they were inspired by his 2012 free skate - so props to them for having taste.
Iman: You know what, they did it justice.
Lo: They did it justice, they definitely did.
Kat: Sui and Han are huge Dai stans.
Iman: Intellectuals, as they should be!
Kat: Wenjing said that she wanted to skate to Cyberswan so we know that she has good taste.
Kite: Make this happen! Please, universe, make this happen!
Kat: We deserve this! Sui and Han in general, they impress me so much, like, I just love their aesthetic. Everyone talks about Han Cong is a little bit on the smaller side for a pairs dude, but they just look so aesthetically pleasing together. They have really similar lines.
Iman: They’re both so power packed though (Kat: Yeah). Like, they say that he’s on the smaller size - that doesn’t matter, cause they’re doing the same jumps, they’re doing everything.
Kat: He has so much charisma as well, he’s a really good performer.
Iman: He does! They’re both very charismatic in their own way.
Lo: They’re the most equal pair, maybe, that I’ve seen in a very long time.
Iman: Let’s be honest, the person that steals the show is Sui (Wenjing).
Kat: Yeah, you just can’t not look at her.
Kite: You can’t take your eyes off her.
Iman: You can’t take your eyes off her, she’s such a star. Again, Han (Cong) he’s sort of, like I guess you could say, the rock in their pair, because had she been with anyone else, like no one would have even - I feel like he makes her shine, and that’s what pairs are supposed to do, and I just love that.
Lo: Okay for dance I’m going to be talking about Shae Lynn Bourne and Victor Kraatz 2003 for their Adagio (free) program, because it’s truly innovative and a breakout performance for North American ice dance - which had never really been on the scene before these two came along. And also they had the best hydroblade’s you’ll ever see - sorry I’m cutting this a little bit short because I don’t know as much about ice dance as I do about the other disciplines, but this go off. Shae Lynn Bourne is a goddess, I love her, she’s the queen.
Iman: We can all agree with that.
Lo: This goes off, it still holds up. I think they skated in a very modern way - they didn’t fit 6.0 as well as they would have fit IJS, in my opinion. And I think that their scores reflected that for the most part, at least for the earlier part of their career. They finally got their due here and it was awesome.
Kat: Yeah, I just really enjoyed the version of Adagio that they used, because I’m more used to the orchestral classic version, because Shen and Zhao also skated to it - this one sounds a little bit more, I don’t know how to explain it.
Lo: Almost kind of rock-y.
Kat: It sounds like a video game boss battle music!
Kite: I don’t see a problem with that.
Kat: Yeah, no, it’s amazing! I love it, it’s innovative.
Kat: My favourite ice dance program would probably be (Tessa) Virtue and (Scott) Moir’s ‘Mahler Symphony number 5’ from Vancouver. Oh my god, what’s to even say about it. First of all, Tessa looks so stunning in white - she literally looks like an angel (Lo: A goddess). I know a lot of people don’t like white costumes, but it fit this program so much - she looks like an angel floating on the ice. They flow across the ice with so much speed, they have the most difficult creative lift - like that first combo lift, I think it’s like a curve lift into like a rotational lift, where he like flips her upside down.
Lo: It’s iconic. Iconic.
Kat: I’m pretty sure it got a perfect +3 GOE across the judges.
Lo: As it deserves.
Kat: I mean, it deserved it, and it looks so effortless. Which is so hard to do with such a light and ethereal piece - to have such an acrobatic lift look so effortless and easy. I mean, they always did say some of the hardest things to do is to make something -
Kite: Difficult look effortless.
Kat: Difficult look effortless, yes, exactly. And it also features their famous Canadian goose lift, and you know, first North American ice dance team to win gold, on home ice. Youngest Olympic ice dance champions in history. There’s nothing more to say, you know, it’s such an iconic Olympic moment.
Iman: Something I love about them both is that they’re so expressive, like, you could honestly just look at their faces throughout the whole program and you’d be just as entertained because their facial expressions are phenomenal. But, of course, you wouldn’t just look at their faces because physically they’re such dominating personas in ice dance, and rightfully so.
Lo: It’s one of the most memorable Olympic performances for me. I’ll never forget how I felt when I watched - it’s just like you were falling in love, it was just so beautiful and lovely, and everything good about those two as a pair. It’s still my favourite thing they’ve ever done.
Kite: So, my favorite (Ice) Dance program is actually [Meryl] Davis and [Charlie] White’s Scheherazade from the Sochi Olympics. I mean, they were dominant for two seasons, undefeated prior to the Olympics. And just - I mean, from the very beginning that opening curve lift, I think they said that they actually trained that for about two years but they never put it in a program because it was that difficult. (Kat: That entry is so crazy, yeah) He grabs her by the wrist and like (Kat: Just holds her on his back!) they make it look effortless like you were saying and it’s - I mean.
Iman: Again it’s like she just flew into his - you know, it’s amazing.
Kat: The choreography in the beginning is also so gorgeous.
Kite: The changes in music are really good, I think.
Iman: Also Meryl looks like a Greek goddess. (Kat: She does!) (Lo: She looks like Megara) She does! Yeah.
Lo: Megara from Hercules.
Kat: Charlie is also such a good performer, I feel like he gets overlooked a little bit, he’s a very, very good performer.
Iman: He’s fantastic, and I feel like people sort of - I get why - Meryl is just, she is sort of like, again like with Sui.
Kite: He, like, shows her off very very well yeah.
Iman: He does show her off very well.
Lo : He knows exactly how to frame her.
Kat: You know, he exudes a lot of charisma himself.
Kite: It’s like, they were the first American (Ice) Dance team ever to win an Olympic gold medal.
Lo: They left a real impact. I miss them, a lot.
Kite: Yeah, it’s like an Olympic program. Like when you think of an Olympic program, that’s kind of what you think of. It’s fitting that it happened with Scheherazade - that they won the Olympic gold.
Iman: Meryl and Charlie, please come back, we need you. Dance is dying.
Kite: I mean, they haven’t officially retired - it could happen!
Kite: If you’re listening.
Iman: Can they please come back? Honestly, I would cry.
Iman: Alright, so my pick for dance is Maia and Alex Shibutani for ‘Fix You.’ This program… Alright, so with dance, people generally always say ‘Oh but they’re siblings, they can’t have that chemistry’ right? They don’t need that chemistry, because they have a different type of chemistry - and that’s what makes them so amazing.
Kat: It’s not sexual chemistry.
Iman: It’s not sexual chemistry.
Kite: It doesn’t need to be.
Lo: It’s beautiful in its own way.
Iman: Exactly! It does not need to be sexual chemistry. First of all, the song in of itself, you know, Coldplay, it’s a very emotional song. And what I love most about this program is that they hit the musical cues so well - the twizzles into the guitar (Lo: So good). Not only does it give me chills - it gives me chills every single time I watch this performance.
Kat: Not even just the twizzle, even like the lifts.
Iman: Ugh, the lifts. The rotational lift, it was fantastic.
Kat: They’re really good at using the music to bring the audience into their performance as well.
Iman: Their musicality is so amazing, and they’re both such expressive skaters
Kat: It’s just a shame that because they’re siblings people just think that they’re not expressive, but it’s really because they’re not exuding sexual chemistry, so a lot of traditional viewers, or I guess judges, are not as in tune with that.
Iman: But the thing is, that’s where I’m a little bit irked because they may not show that romantic chemistry but they still so bring so much creativity to their programs.
Lo: It’s a really interesting and unique vibe that no one else brings.
Iman: I can name so many of their programs where they obviously don’t have that romantic but they still have - they sort of have to be creative because they’re at a disadvantage because people are like ‘You’re siblings, you’re not going to be able to do the ice dance thing unless you’re literally making out on the ice’ because that’s just what people expect of ice dance - which is really unfortunate because they deserve better scores for the programs that they produce. Fix You is by far one of my favourites of all time, because of how expressive they are, because of the lifts, because of the twizzles - ugh, their twizzles.
Lo: King and queen of twizzles.
Iman: Their twizzles, they’re so in-sync. Maybe because they’re siblings, that’s why they’re so in-sync. Ha, take that ISU.
Kite: So, for our grand finale, we have collectively decided on one program that we believe to be the most iconic of the 2000s and that is…
Kat: I mean, [Yuzuru Hanyu’s] Seimei.
Iman: Seimei. It’s Seimei. Ugh, what to say, where to start.
Kite: Can we just, okay, we will start on like the opening note of when the music, when the program starts (Kat: That look on his face!) that’s his breath on the recording!
Iman: Even before the music starts, he deliberately put in his own breath, (Kite: Because it calms him down) it calms him down and it sort of helps him focus and that’s just such - (Kite: Like, who does that?) he’s so calculated, he knows what’s gonna help him and the fact that he edited [Correction: helped to edit] the music himself.
Kat: It’s just the amount of detail that he put into the construction, every single part of it - the choreography, the music edits, the costuming. You know all of these things that - this was his passion project, he personally put in so much of his soul into this program. Like you could really, really feel it, yeah.
Lo: He met the actor from the movie, (Kat: Yeah!) Shae-Lynn Bourne watched the movie for him so she could get an idea of what he wanted to portray on the ice.
Kat: Yeah, and it’s just so representative of the Japanese culture, which he really, really wanted to portray. Japanese music is not that often used, or at all (Lo: No, never used almost) used in figure skating and it’s so representative of his culture, which is so minimalist, I think. You know, doing the most with the least.
Iman: And that’s such a bold move to sort of, y’know, stray away from Western music, which is obviously - (Kat: Yeah, he knew it was a risk!) it was a huge risk because if he strayed away from - like, for example, there’s an entire segment that’s just drums, right? The step sequence.
Lo: Just drums.
Kite: It’s a masterpiece, a masterpiece in using suspense.
Iman: That’s such a difficult thing to do, to not have music to back you up and he just went with it, and you see - it’s just so perfect. You could see how much effort he put into it - the musicality, the step sequence, the choreography - ugh, everything is just phenomenal.
Kat: And yeah, the choreographic sequence at the end always gets me.
Lo: Iconic, the hydroblade.
Kite: Especially in the Olympic skate, oh my God.
Kat: Breaking character just for a moment! Like, right after his spin, you could just see the smile exuding, he just knew he did it.
Iman: You could see him grinning and it’s like he knew he did it.
Lo: It was special - who cares if it wasn’t really in sync, it didn’t really matter.
Iman: That’s another thing I really wanted to add. Despite the fact that it was not a perfect - it was not a clean skate, right? He did stumble, you know, his jump -
Lo: Missed the combo.
Kat: Yeah, we still remember it! It’ll hold up [to] the test of time.
Lo: It’s still my favourite performance of that program.
Kat: Mine too.
Iman: Same, it’s my favourite performance. It’s just such a memorable performance, because you see the road to the Olympics and all that he’s been through and the fact that everyone was just like ‘oh, he’s not gonna win it’.
Kite: ‘He’s not going to be on the podium’.
Kat: It really felt like a victory, in every sense of the word. I think Brian Orser said that it felt like a victory - not just because he won the gold medal, because he conquered himself, you know, he conquered the injury.
Iman: He proved himself to everyone who was like ‘he’s not going to be able to do two OGMs, you know, that’s not been heard of for so long’.
Kite: ‘No one’s done it in 66 years and he’s doing it with recycled programs (Lo: With a watered down layout) and he was injured, like, three months ago. You know, he’s not going to be on the podium’ and then just to win with that program specifically.
Iman: It was perfect in its imperfections - I feel like that’s the best thing.
Kat: There’s something so fairytale-like about him winning with his passion project, you know. It’s in his blood, that performance.
Kite: It’s like every program, obviously, is designed to get the maximum amount of points it can get, right. But this is one of the few that felt more than just a means to an end.
Kat: Alright, the next episode will be hosted by Tilda, Yogeeta, Gina, and Red, and they’ll be discussing the proposed rule changes that may be approved by the ISU Congress, which, again is June 4th through 8th and will be livestreamed on the ISU skating Youtube channel.
Kite: If you want to get in touch with us, then please feel free to contact us via Twitter @InTheLoPodcast, or on Tumblr at inthelopodcast.tumblr.com.
Kite: Thanks for listening, this has been Kite,
Kat: and Kat. See you soon!