Cacophony of the outraged
Wrong words - and what they
skating is not an aggressive sport. Skaters compete against each other, but off
the ice they are mostly friendly with each other. Rivals might sit together in
the dining room and have lunch before they go out trying to better each other
on the ice a few hours later. But sometimes their fans think they need to be at
war with each other.
Men’s short program practice at the practice rink at the World Figure Skating
Championships in Boston on Wednesday, March 30, Japan’s super star Yuzuru Hanyu
and Kazakhstan’s Olympic bronze medalist Denis Ten got close to each other on
the ice. This happens sometimes, skaters get too close to each other, maybe not
paying enough attention as they are too absorbed in what they are doing. Several
eye witnesses confirmed that Yuzuru was skating to his music while Denis was
doing a spin. There was enough room around Denis, but Yuzuru almost ran into
him. There was no physical contact, nobody was hurt. Apparently Yuzuru got
upset and yelled at Denis.
It was a
minor incident that usually quickly would have been forgotten. Unfortunately,
when Yuzuru spoke to the press in the mixed zone that day, he was quoted by the
media saying that he believed Denis was
intentionally in his way, there was even a comment reported that maybe Denis
was trying to hurt him (however, this might have been a misquote or
misunderstanding). The article also stated that the Japanese Skating Federation
planned a “protest” or “complaint” against Ten (which was not true either). Anyway,
some media greedily picked up the comments and blew the whole incident out of
could seriously believe that one skater tried to hurt another skater? I’ve been
covering figure skating for more than 20 years now. I’ve seen many
near-collisions in practice and warm up and several actual collisions, but
never ever one skater accused another skater of intentionally trying to do
anything wrong. Yuzuru probably said this as he was under high stress and had
the terrible accident on his mind when he collided with Han Yan in the warm up
during Cup of China in 2014. So he kind of overreacted, but some journalists
happily used it to create a scandal.
result, some fans** also overreacted and started sending threats and hate mail
to Denis. Authorities in Kazakhstan read the one-sided media reports and were
not amused. There were also reasonable
voices from journalists and fans, but they somehow were overheard in the
cacophony of the outraged. Someone even went as far as posting a video from
another warm up or practice session where Denis and Yuzuru came close to each
other and used this as “proof”. Get a life. You can see many, many such
situations between many different skaters. Interesting enough, the video of the
practice session in Boston was not shown, although Fuji TV was there and taped
the session. There should be footage from the incident, but they don’t release
the Japanese Skating Federation apparently did not realize how the whole
situation developed and did not intervene right away. Only on Saturday team
leader Yoshiko Kobayashi told the press that the Federation doesn’t file any
kind of protest and never intended to do so. The Japanese Skating Federation
also confirmed this in a letter to the Kazakhstan authorities.
end, only both skaters suffered from the whole story***, because Yuzuru
received also some criticism. Yuzuru approached Denis on Saturday, they talked
to each other, they shook hands. They closed this chapter, but unfortunately
some people (who think they are fans) still didn’t let go. Even when Denis
published a photo of him and Yuzuru shaking hands, they wouldn’t stop arguing.
the way, in the free skating practice at the main rink on Friday, Yuzuru, who
was skating to his music, got really close to Shoma Uno, who was doing a spin.
Shoma just was able to get out of the way in the last second. Would anyone
seriously believe that Shoma was intentionally in Yuzuru’s way?
just to illustrate that getting close to each other and near-collisions are
quite common in practice with six skaters on the ice that go high speed. Just
all skaters need to keep in mind that they have to be careful and pay attention
to each other. ****
There was a lot of feedback to this article,
both negative and positive. There are some people you can discuss with and some
you can’t as everyone has their own truth sometimes. Therefore I decided not to
react to Twitter comments. This matter should be put to rest. However, I
thought over everything again and I edited the article in four places and
marked them by stars.
*My main criticism towards Yuzuru Hanyu was
that he accused Denis Ten of being intentionally in his way or even “trying to
hurt him”. This criticism was based on an article that quoted Yuzuru in that
way. However, I did not make it clear that I relied on a quote in an article. The
quote in the article might have been distorted or wrong as some people say. I
cannot prove one or the other as I have no voice recording from the mixed zone.
**I took out “Yuzuru’s fans” as some of his
honest fans felt offended as they never would send hate mail or nasty comments.
I do not want to blame all of his fans. There are just some nasty people out
there that hide in the anonymity of the internet, they are not necessarily
***I changed “careless words in the mixed zone”
**** I added another paragraph to make my point
clear. I realize that many people read this article who don’t know English so
well and they might not completely understand all nuances.
This article is not directed against Yuzuru
Hanyu or any other skater and it is not about who was doing what in the
practice session. The main point of this article is to illustrate what can
happen when comments are blown out of proportion and to criticize those people
that continue to fight even after the issue has been settled by the skaters.