NRW Trophy 2012: Notes from the stands

Yuna Kim at NRW Trophy 2012

By Olga Fluegge,
special to World Figure Skating

First of all I must say I was a very lucky person who managed to get tickets for this competition, because about 300 tickets were sold out in a few hours and the most of them got guests from Korea.

The Olympic champion Yuna Kim announced this event as a return to competitive skating. Her last competition was 2011 Worlds. 18 months after that we could see her on competitive ice again. Korean and Japanese broadcasters have bought the TV rights. Also, there was a live Internet stream.

Honestly, I’m not a fan of comebacks for several reasons and was a little bit sceptical. Yuna Kim has achieved everything in sport. In the short program she seemed to have a little tense. She delivered a solid program, which featured a combination of triple Lutz – triple toe loop, triple flip and double Axel. Her spins and steps got only the level 3.

In the free skate we saw again the real Yuna Queen with beautiful lines, big jumps, exquisite choreography and magic blades. I like the way she feels the music. Her skating looks so effortless, she is just beautiful to watch. She is like a magnet for the audience. Yes, Yuna made several mistakes in the free skate on jumps but this is only an indication that she is not ready for 100% right now. However, she has enough time to prepare for 2013 Worlds.

As for the 201.61 points Yuna Kim received in Dortmund, we know that so-called B events are considered as friendly for skaters.

Ksenia Makarova from Russia became a silver medallist with 159.01 points. She produced a strong short program, but was only 6th in the free skate: three of her jumps were underrotated or downgraded. But maybe this medal can give her more confidence for the future. I wish Ksenia to skate well at Russian Nationals and make the Worlds team. The bronze medal went to elegant cool blonde Viktoria Helgesson from Sweden (158.93), who has enough of experience.

NRW 2012 ladies podium

Germans Aliona Savchenko/Robin Szolkowy (207.52) became the winners of pair skating event and showed revised version of their free skating program to Flamenco Bolero by Gustavo Montesano. They worked on choreography to make it more authentic, matched to the selected music and they were successfully with it. The four-time World champions received a very warm welcome from the crowd despite two mistakes on jumps. Their costumes were changed because of some complaints from the side of ISU.

The Italians Stefania Berton/Ondrej Hotarek finished second with 178.64 points. They showed a nice choreography of their programs as well as a high level technique. The bronze won the French couple of Vanessa James/Morgan Cipres (171.03).

Konstantin Menshov (238.63) from Russia, who had a very successful first half of the season, skated to a clear victory with two quads in the free skate, performing solid and nice program. I wish him a very successful performance at coming Russian championships.

The highlights of men’s event were two programs of Misha Ge (210.66) from Uzbekistan, who finished 5th overall but was 2nd in the free skate. He made a lot of improvements since last Worlds and was a little bit underscored in components in the short program.

In the free skate to the music selection of Charlie Chaplin, Misha presented a very entertaining performance, starting out on the ice and ending with a bow, just like in the style of the character, so the announcer said to him “Thank you, Charlie Chaplin”. Misha Ge has met the TES minimum for competing at Worlds.

The silver medal got Michal Brezina (213.09) from the Czech Republic and it’s a small consolation for him. It was not the way to skate he looked for. The highlights of his performances were clean quad Salchow in the free skating and a high level step sequence in the short program.

Photo: Olga Fluegge; Castanet

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