Brian Orser, the coach of 2014 Olympic and world champion Yuzuru Hanyu continues to be the best quote in the business.
The man who led Yuna Kim to the gold medal at the 2010 Vancouver Games always speaks the unvarnished truth and provides unique insight into the complex world of skating. Time and again I have found his comments to be both prescient and profound.
Orser recently did an interview with the Russian sports website rsport.ru and delivered some very interesting observations on his two prized pupils. The interview was published in Russian, but translated by user Tahbka and posted on the skating site fsuniverse.net.
Orser confirmed that Hanyu is back training on the ice following his recent surgery for a bladder problem, which hospitalized him in Tokyo for several weeks, and hopeful of competing in the world championships next month in Shanghai.
“He is practicing and looks good,” Orser told the site. “Landing the quads. He just has to get back into shape.”
The two-time Olympic silver medalist was asked about different quads that Hanyu has been trying out.
“There certainly will not be a quad flip,” Orser stated. “Yuzuru has a quad loop, he lands it often in practices and it’s beautiful. But we slowed down a bit now. He has been suffering injuries and health problems and he came back on the ice only recently.
“I saw him landing a quad lutz during the summer and the landing was gorgeous. I would like to note I don’t make him learn those quads. It’s what he wants. It’s nice for him to show me how he can do it.”
Orser was questioned on whether Hanyu and Kim had changed much after their Olympic victories.
“I don’t think so,” he commented to the site. “Right after Yuzuru came off the ice with the medal I said ‘Now your life will change. The world will never be the same.’ It happened. He is busy with various things, he is always in demand, he is tired.
“Sometimes I think Kim after Vancouver and Yuzuru after Sochi came to Toronto to get away from all the attention . . .
“But it was easier for Yuzuru to take winning the Olympics — before Sochi he set a goal to become a two-time Olympic champion. Kim, I think, only wanted to win Vancouver. Sochi, and it’s only my point of view, I think she was forced. I think she wanted to retire after Vancouver.
“As for Sochi — I think you could feel in her skating she was skating against her will. It was a good performance, but not the same as in Vancouver.”
The conversation became very compelling when Orser, the 1987 world champion, was asked who he thought really won the women’s gold in Sochi.
“Let me put it this way — (Adelina) Sotnikova was representing the new generation, she was bursting with energy and it was a home competition for her,” he told the site. “I always loved Sotnikova for her passion for figure skating and was following her when she was growing up . . .
“As for Kim — she was representing the mature and elegant skating in Sochi which Sotnikova might still lack. But I think it was Carolina Kostner who was the best that night. Both her programs had it all — gorgeous choreography, elegance . . .
“Sotnikova skated great, but if you ask me why her marks were so high I will say because of the spins. Sotnikova’s spins are great, while Kostner’s and Kim’s are not . . .
“Frankly, I came to my conclusions only later. I thought about it for several days and re-watched the competitions several times.”
Back on track: Tokyo native Eri Nishimura moved to Canada at 13 to train back in 2008 and began entering competitions there. She was Canada’s junior champion in 2010 but went off the radar shortly after that.
Nishimura, who is now a Canadian citizen, has re-emerged and finished 10th at the recent Canadian championships in Kingston, Ontario. She is currently a student at the University of Toronto and studying to be a sports doctor.
Her coach — Brian Orser.
Catching up: Emi Watanabe, the first Japanese woman to medal at the worlds (when she earned a bronze back in 1979) did an interview with icenetwork.com that was posted last month.
Many skating fans of today may not know of Watanabe, who is 55 now but still active in the sport. The Tokyo native was asked what she thought of the current state of skating.
“Figure skating has changed so much since my days — no compulsory figures, closed judging,” she told the site. “I miss the good, old figure skating days!”
Watanabe’s current connection to skating involves instructing newcomers.
“My skating work now is I have a nonprofit called ‘Emi Skate for Kids,’ ” she said. “I teach only beginners who want to try skating. I do clinics all the around the country. I teach between 150 and 200 at a time, with the help of about 15-20 teachers.”