Rock, classical, Broadway at Sochi gala skate
SOCHI, Russia (AP) — With the pressure off and no medals at stake, it was time for the Olympic figure skaters to have some fun.
Before a packed house Saturday night at the Iceberg Skating Palace, where so much history was made during the Sochi Games, the loudest cheers, naturally, went to the Russian stars during the gala exhibition that closed this Olympics’ figure skating competition.
When pairs champions Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov took the ice at the end of the 2½-hour show, now familiar chants of “Ro-ssi-ya” filled the arena.
Then all the individual gold medalists — Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White, Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu and Russia’s Adelina Sotnikova — were joined by Canada’s silver medalist, Patrick Chan, who saluted the games and the crowd.
Speaking to the audience in English and French, Chan called the Olympics “wonderful, extraordinary opportunities we have enjoyed so much at these Winter Games here in Sochi.”
“Thank you for the great memories,” he said, using the Sochi Games’ slogan — “Hot. Cool. Yours.” — before adding, “now us.”
As a final salute, all the skaters gathered at center ice and South Korea’s Yuna Kim burst out of the pack in a solo spotlight. The others pointed to her as the 2010 Olympic champion and this year’s silver medalist, who announced her retirement Thursday night, waved goodbye.
The skaters borrowed plenty from Broadway and from the movies during the exhibition. Chinese pair Pang Qing and Tong Jian performed flowingly to the mournful “I Dreamed A Dream” from “Les Miserables.” French ice dancers Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat used opening moves directly from the film “Dirty Dancing” in their routine to “Time of My Life.”
U.S. champion Gracie Gold even had her own personalized introduction to her performance to “All That Jazz” from the Oscar-winning “Chicago” soundtrack.
Canada’s Dylan Moscovitch got a comical scolding from partner Kirsten Moore-Towers for letting his pretend cell phone interrupt their performance a half-dozen times.
Spain’s Javier Fernandez, in the night’s most outlandish and hilarious routine, held an impromptu aerobics class while skating to a medley of workout music, exhausting the fans watching if not Fernandez himself. Then he stripped down to cape, shorts and a Superman-style T-shirt with a huge “J″ on its front.
He even got a dunking from the Canadians who performed before him, flopping to the surface as Moore-Towers and Moscovitch sprinted onto the ice with a pail and doused him.
There was also lots of rock. Japan’s Tatsuki Machida performed to Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now,” complete with his own air guitar solo and some triple jumps to spice it up.
And there were classical contributions from ice dance champions Davis and White, who performed to “Adagio” by Rachmaninov, and from Italy’s silver medalist Carolina Kostner as “Sheherazade.”
Kim skated exquisitely to Avril Lavigne’s version of “Imagine,” looking totally relaxed in a complete reverse of her body language throughout the competition.
Chan’s snappy performance to Tony Bennett’s “Stepping Out” showed off all of his flowing steps and spins. He added a few triple jumps, too.
Japan’s Mao Asada shook hands with a photographer while skating to “What A Wonderful World.”
Denis Ten, the first figure skating medalist from Kazakhstan, wore a native outfit and did a tribute to his nation.
Sotnikova, replete with lime green wings as a prop for her butterfly outfit, did a mesmerizing “Oblivion Tango” until she discarded them to throw in some jumps.
The smile she wore at the end of the routine was as wide as her grin after winning Russia’s first Olympic gold medal in the women’s event.