Welcome in Grenoble for the 3rd lag of the Grand-Prix! At 9am. this morning the Grenoble Polesud rink was empty and quiet, but you could hardly be mistaken: security people were doing their briefing, the accreditation lady was at her boost, the press center had five lines of transparent chairs all ready, microphones were being connected, and Swiss Timing, the ISU contractor who sets up the competition, was nearly ready.
Japanese TV crew from Asahi was already at work, filling the main room of the building with their cameras and equipment boxes. Our Japanese friends should have great coverage, given the strength of their TV team here!
Several Japanese fans were already waiting at the ice rink door. Who do they support? “Everyone,” of course! And guess whom… “Shoma!” they all said in unison.
The skaters took the ice two hours later.
Asahi cameramen are certainly the most serious cameramen on earth – professionally wise. They spent their day following the skating champions everywhere. A few of them were taking a short break outside in the middle of the morning. “Oh no, I don’t carry my camera on the ice,” one laughed. “I can’t skate well enough. It would be too dangerous!”
“You recognize a true champion as soon as he steps onto the ice, because you’re sure that he will not miss an element,” former Olympic champion and coach Pierre Brunet used to say. Team USA’s Nathan Chen was clearly one of that kind when he took the ice Grenoble.
Japan’s Shoma Uno has kept his so charming childish look. In the next issue of Patinage Magazine we will let you know a bit more about his way of warming up, which we followed in the warm-up area. But beware: when he is on the ice he will never let one rotation or a step elapse him. Uno and Chen practiced in two different groups, but tomorrow they will be on the same ice. And they will be fascinating to watch!
Later in the afternoon, Nathan Chen could be seen in the stands, watching the ladies and supporting his teammate Mariah Bell, alongside Romain Ponsart. Chen had a computer on his lap. In fact, he was reading his vector calculus chapter of his Mathematics textbook at the same time! His professors at Yale University can rest reassured: their student is working hard!
What happens when five out of the ten teams in the competition are coming from the same school, city, and plane, and can’t find their luggage at their destination airport?
That’s exactly what happened to the teams from the School of Montréal. “They flew in from Brussels and an electric breakdown prevented their bags to follow them,” our good colleague Klaus-Reinhold Kany said. Their luggage did reach Grenoble Wednesday night, right on time! Nowadays it’s hard to imagine a competition with no team from Montréal… Coaches Marie France Dubreuil and Romain Haguenauer are proudly leading five teams in Grenoble, half of the field!
Higuchi Wakaba, Sakamoto Kaori and Shiraiwa Yuna did not wait long to make their point in Grenoble. Unlike many other skaters, they delivered their whole package as they practiced to their music.
Alina Zagitova will be starting her Grand-Prix season in Grenoble. If she lands her jumps, Zagitova will be unbeatable, as she has even increased the theatricality of her performance. Alena Kostornaia, the ISU Junior Grand-Prix Final Champion, was not as lucky in her skate, as she stepped out of several jumps and tumbled a few times.
And please don’t forget Team USA’s Mariah Bell, whose “delightful program to ‘Allelujah’ came as a blessing to cap this practice day!