SO MUCH has happened since the last Worlds! It’s been two years since the event was even held. Although the 2020 World Figure Skating Championships were slated to take place in Montreal, they were cancelled early in the pandemic. In fact, the event should have begun on March 16 but was cancelled on the 11th, only 5 days prior to the scheduled start.
Since then, skaters from all over the world have had to battle lockdowns and various restrictions that have hindered both their training and their opportunities for competition over the last year. This year’s World Championships might be the most anticipated figure skating event of all time.
For those of you who haven’t been following figure skating as much during the pandemic, here are a few names and flags to watch for in the upcoming days.
Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier – This ice dancing pair have previously taken home gold at Skate America (2015), silver at the Rostelecom Cup (2013), and another silver at the Four Continents Championship (2020). They’re reviving their 2019-20 programs, including their free skate to Joni Mitchell’s Both Sides Now. These ice dancers are Canada’s best hope for a medal, even though this is their 8th Worlds and their best finish so far has been 6th place in 2015 and 18. They were enjoying their career-best season before the pandemic hit.
Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro – These two have skated together since 2014, bringing home silver at the Figure Skating Grand Prix and bronze at the Four Continents only a year ago. As with most Canadians and other athletes around the world, the recent lack of competition has left them a bit rusty, but the pair says that they’ve never trained harder than in the last few months. Their current programs are beautifully solid, but with this level of competition, they’ll have to give it everything they have.
They’re targeting the Olympic podium in 2022 after changing focus.— Olympics (@Olympics) March 23, 2021
What will the new approach mean for ice dance duo Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier 🇨🇦 at the 2021 Figure Skating World Championships?@PiperGilles @PaulDPoirier@ISU_Figure #WorldFigure #Stockholm2021
Nathan Chen – He’s America’s darling on skates! Chen placed 5th at the Olympics in 2018 and earned gold at the last two Figure Skating World Championships. There is no doubt that Chen and all his American fans are dying for a threepeat! While the original plan was six, viewers can expect to see five quadruple jumps in Chen’s free skate – since regulations say a skater can’t repeat two of the same element in a program, including a sixth quad would be tricky. He is, by the way, on leave from his studies at Yale to attend this competition. YALE!
Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue – The ice dancing duo beat out their American rivals Madison Chock and Evan Bates to take home gold at the 2021 U.S. Championships. In a video from U.S. Figure Skating, Hubbell says that, despite the complications, their last season of training has been very good for them. “We weren’t travelling as much, we didn’t have those show opportunities that took us away, and it was kind of a blessing in disguise… We’ve been injury free, training every day really consistently… I think that was a really good reminder that the magic is in that training at home and so for the Olympic season and Worlds coming up, we have a lot of confidence in our material.” The pair will again skate to a stunning arrangement of “Hallelujah” for their free dance, as are doubtlessly hoping it will once again earn them a place on the podium.
“Nathan Chen – USA. Since the Olympic Games in 2018, Nathan Chen has not lost one single competition. The two- time World Champion is known as the “quad king”, for his ability to consistently land numerous quadruple jumps with breathtaking quality.— DN (@dsntedge) March 23, 2021
Sui Wenjing and Han Cong – This will be the first international event for these pairs skaters since taking to the ice at the Four Continents Championship in Feb of 2020. Cong underwent hip surgery in April of last year, but they have a history of impressive comebacks after injury – it’s hard to believe, but Wenjing experienced injuries to ankles on both feet in 2015 and, after surgery, had to learn to walk again! They subsequently gave a breathtaking performance at the Worlds in 2017. Despite these physical setbacks, as the reigning champions from both 2019 and 2020, they are heavily favoured to take the gold.
Yuzuru Hanyu – After winning his fifth national title back in December, Hanyu has been looking rather relaxed during practices in Stockholm. According to the Olympic Channel, Japan’s prized skater has stayed in his home country since the pandemic began and, after arriving in Sweden, has reunited with the Canadian coaches he hasn’t seen in more than a year. While his rival, Nathan Chen, may have five quad jumps planned, Hanyu has four. He previously mentioned that the quadruple axel is something he’s been working on and hopes to perfect in the future. The 2018 Olympics saw Hanyu take home his second Olympic gold medal so be prepared to watch him triumph a few more times on his way to Beijing.
The women’s event is more technical than ever. 2020 Grand Prix and European champ Alena Kostornaia is struggling to recover from a lingering back injury and stress fracture in her foot, so will not compete. This leaves the podium open for the other contenders.
Anna Shcherbakova – At only 16 years old – her 17th birthday is on Sunday – Shcherbakova has won three national titles already and is eager to compete on her first senior world event. In fact, she’s the first Russian woman in almost two decades to take home three consecutive national titles. She earned silver at the 2019-20 Grand Prix and her performance at Russian Nationals was superb! Since arriving in Stockholm, she’s had difficulty with landing her quads during practice, but laughs it off. “All athletes fall,” she told the Olympic Channel. “It’s okay. It’s normal.”
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva – Tuktamysheva is no stranger to the world stage – er, ice. As the champion of the ladies’ competition in 2015, Tuktamysheva is aiming her sights on competing at her first Olympic games in 2022. While her teammates are much younger (teenagers, to be frank), this 24-year-old remains confident in her abilities. She does, however, still struggle with landing her quads and has no plans to include them in her World Championship performance. She does have a wicked triple axel and a spirit of perseverance that is hard to match. Her fans call her “The Empress.”
European champion Alena Kostornaia describes her fellow figure skaters Yuzuru Hanyu, Alina Zagitova, Evgenia Medvedeva, Nathan Chen and Anna Shcherbakova with just one word.— Olympic Channel (@olympicchannel) July 17, 2020
Full interview with Alena: https://t.co/IIz34Ew3X4@ISU_Figure @Olympic_Russia pic.twitter.com/0Z5wQUm59W