Let’s talk Nam Nguyen and Liam Firus, because I don’t know if I’ll ever not be bitter

posted in: Figure Skating | 8

Alright, it’s been a couple of days since the Men took to the ice at Canadian Nationals and I think I’ve calmed down enough to share my thoughts. After the event I was rather mad at the results, but in the days since I guess I’ve not only accepted them but I’ve thought a lot about it and have come to a sort of understanding.

I shared some of my thoughts on the topic already with The Judges Table. Check it out, it’s always a fun read!

I had planned to discus the Men’s event as a whole, but ultimately all I want to discuss is Nam and Liam, because I don’t know if I’ll ever not be bitter about this.

First, some of the judging here was completely ridiculous. Liam scored 15 points higher in PCS in the FS than he’s ever scored internationally! This still bugs me. Skate Canada wants Liam to be the next Patrick Chan. I get it, I love Liam’s skating. He is gorgeous and has gorgeous skating BUT he’s never had the jumps. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen him land a clean 3A and while I’m glad he’s trying 4T now, the success rate on it isn’t the greatest. Liam has also yet to deliver internationally whereas both Kevin and Nam have been 5th at Worlds.


I’ll probably be bitter about Skate Canada’s Worlds decision until next season. I would have had Liam, Kevin and Nam do a skate-off at 4CC (which reminds me, I’m surprised Patrick is even going to 4CC). If Liam placed higher there then I would no longer be complaining. I would have thought it was fair and lived with the decision. But no, instead Skate Canada is sending Liam straight to Worlds. Liam Firus who’s season’s best would have just placed him 18th in the SP at Euros. Ugh.

Now I want to talk about Nam. I jumped on the Nam bandwagon earlier this season. He’s definitely one of my favourites and I 100% think it has something to do with him being a part of Team Orser. After Skate Canada this past fall I was also mad with Nam’s treatment by Skate Canada. I even wrote a blog post about it. Because now that Patrick Chan is back all of the focus seems to be on him and everyone else has been forgotten.

I’ve watched Nam all season and he’s struggled. His jumps aren’t solid, he lacks the confidence we saw last season and his programs are doing nothing to help him. I understand that some of these struggles are because he grew another few inches since the spring. I think Nam will get the jumps back easily, he just needs some time. As for the programs, come on Brian Orser, let Nam have some fun out there.

Another thing I’ve really noticed this season is that Nam is not the strongest when it comes to basic skating skills. He’s often slow, doesn’t have the same power as others and he’s lacking overall flow across the ice. These are skills people like Patrick Chan and Liam Firus naturally have and, like we saw this past weekend, are skills the nationals judges love. While a lot of this came naturally to his two competitors, this can be taught and improved upon. Both Javi and Yuzu are prime examples. Before the Cricket Club these two had average skating skills and now they are arguably some of, if not the best in the World. Where Nam struggles is also a result of him being ridiculously tall and super thin. On the ice this gives him a long, lanky and kinda awkward look. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Nam needs to work on his posture and I think some basic dance training would go a long way. He needs some time to get used to and feel comfortable in his new body. The jumps are super important, but so is the rest of it. And I think Nam is just figuring this out. I think Nam has become aware of a lot of this recently.


I also keep forgetting how young Nam is. He’s only 17! Nam is younger than Nicolas Nadeau who we’re sending to Jr Worlds and just a year older than Roman Sadovsky. Nam is so young and really still has so much time.

Last season Nam was Canada’s #1. In the absence of Patrick Chan all of Skate Canada’s focus was on Nam and I think this helped his international scores and placements. We have now seen that with Patrick back Nam has been cast aside. But what if Skate Canada is doing this on purpose? What if this is Skate Canada’s way of telling Nam that he needs to work on these things if he wants to be back on top. What if they’re just giving him some extra time and motivation? Nam might not see it in this way. Instead, all of those things that Nam has to work on are no longer being rewarded just because he’s Canada’s #1. So what does Nam do? He works his butt off in his extra long off-season and comes back fighting stronger than ever. He shows Skate Canada next season that they made a mistake and he is worthy of getting high scores and going to the big events. I think this is what Skate Canada wants.

So Liam you get a trip to Worlds. I get to watch you live instead of Nam. I get to wave my Canadian flag for you instead. Skate Canada is giving you another chance, Skate Canada has a lot of faith in you finally landing these jumps. Perhaps you’ll surprise me. I wish you all the best. But honestly I have very little faith in it right now. I do think Nam probably would have made the top 10, whereas I don’t know if you’ll make the cutoff to the FS. BUT this isn’t the year before the Olympics, Olympic numbers aren’t relying on this years’ Worlds. Patrick and a new-and-improved Nam can get 3 spots next year (I better start planning that trip to Finland!). I’m choosing to be positive here. I’m choosing to believe Skate Canada has long-term plans for Nam.

Also, did you know Jeff Buttle didn’t make the World team in 2004 BUT won a World silver medal in 2005? Or did you know Evan Lysacek did not make the World team in 2008 BUT won Worlds in 2009? Sometimes not making the World team is a blessing in disguise.

Come back and wow us next season Nam!  I’ve become a big fan and I can’t wait!

I’d love to hear everyone’s thoughts!
Thanks for reading!
– Justine Alyssa

8 Responses

  1. Hi Justine,
    I’ve been giving this a lot of thought since the weekend and have come to many of the same conclusions as you. I feel for Skate Canada in this situation – they would be ‘damned if they do, damned if they don’t’. There have been a few instances where they haven’t sent the top placers to Worlds – but not often, so they would really have to justify the decision. Nam’s 5th place finish last year could have justified the decision – IF he was skating any where near the level he was skating at last year. I’m sure Nam and his team would be the first to admit that he is struggling – his jumps aren’t consistent and the resulting lack of confidence shows in his performance and speed. He was so tentative on the weekend. I think perhaps it may be a good thing to keep Nam out of the international spotlight at this time – both for his impression on the international judges (altho’ I’m sure they keep track of national competitions) and for his own self-esteem. A very poor showing at 4CC or Worlds would do nothing to build his confidence. As you say, he is so young – and I’m quite confident that between his talent and Brian’s tutelage, he will be back stronger than ever in a new season.
    Now as for Liam – it’s now or never – he’s been given a great opportunity. Like you, I am concerned that his technical content will not hold him in the mix at either 4CC or Worlds, but perhaps, we will be surprised.
    And just a comment on Patrick’s press release about quads. As you know, I am a great fan of Patrick’s skating and was thrilled to see him skate well at Canadians. But I think he would do himself a better service if he just worked on his skating and kept away from the commentary. I agree that some of the guys doing multiple quads (for instance, Nathan Chen & Boyang Jin) don’t show us much other than those jumps and I would much rather watch Patrick’s program than their’s. However, I think Patrick should take note that the top guys (e.g., Yuzu & Javi) can do the quads and still put out a stellar program. It’s a sport, Patrick, and you need to keep up with the technical content of the times – quads aren’t going away anytime soon!
    Thanks for letting me express my thoughts! Always love your blogs!

    • Justine Alyssa

      Thanks for the comment! I spent the hour after we talked today writing this! I agree with almost everything you said. Now that I’ve thought about it I think this is good for Nam. And hopefully Liam can rise to the challenge. Skate Canada’s given him another chance, let’s see what he does with it.

      I didn’t even want to mention Patrick’s comments. Ugh. I agree with some of what he’s trying to say; you can’t just quad and have nothing else and expect to win. But I hate how he called out Yuzu and Javi. These two have amazing programs with crazy transitions and they can land multiple quads in them. He should be striving to be like them, not calling them out. Every time Patrick opens his mouth he says something he shouldn’t, he should just focus on his skating instead.

    • Christianne

      Patrick Chan will be Patrick Chan. He will never be a diplomat.
      His arrogance pisses me off. So much talent yet, yet so little tact.

  2. Christianne

    I’m not happy with how Nam got… *trying to find a PG word and failing*
    I know he’ll do his best to bounce back after this season.

    • Justine Alyssa

      I am also so unhappy about Nam, but perhaps this will be a good thing in the long run? As for Patrick, just please stop talking.

  3. Ugh I am still upset for Nam 🙁 I might have gotten over his nationals if I didn’t feel like they snubbed him at Skate Canada earlier in the season. It feels as if he’s pushed aside because Patrick is back. I wrote a scathing protest on the SC Facebook wall. I really hope that he comes back fighting next season and show them!

    • Justine Alyssa

      I beginning to be ok with Nationals, but I’m still made about earlier in the season. I hate how no one else matters now that Patrick is back. I’ll be cheering for Nam next season! I hope he brings it!

  4. Giving Grace

    Well, the results are in… classy man, classy athlete:
    Liam withdraws so Nam can help Team Canada!

    Opportunities for international competition experience helps our team grow. There are a lot of reasons for why someone is sent and not and requirements to meet scoring. No excuses. Ryan couldn’t be sent because of not meeting the international scoring. Injury, growth spurts, and recovery, mental recovery is a lot for elite athletes to handle and manage and do well. We all have our favourites and when competition happens, people rise and people struggle. People peak while others are still on the journey. Ashley Wagner lands everything in practice but for the 4 minutes… she is measured by that moment but it does not define all of her and what she can do. 365 days of the year you live and skate but it comes down to 4 minutes to show all you have. If I could give more chances for Liam to compete internationally to work out his amazing athleticism, I would. If I could give Ryan more time to heal and get it going I would. He proved he wants to be artistic at National! Good on him. As per Nam, as him humbly works away the places that need work, he could get there. Let’s give grace to our guys and cheer them on. The “__ camp” vs the “__ camp” does this really help? Everyone has a dream and working away bit by bit, instead of ripping them apart and criticizing, let’s encourage and leave the critical part to the coaches.

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