My cousin over at My Fangirl Life has published a series of Listen and Learns, where you listen to a new album along with her, hear her thoughts on each song and learn a couple fun facts. I really like this idea and want to try it out in the context of figure skating.
Last month, to everyone’s surprise, Tatsuki Machida to retired from competitive skating to pursue his education. As a grad student myself I applaud this decision. However, I don’t think anyone was ready to say goodbye to this talent. I had just started to appreciate Machida and think he will be greatly missed.
I now offer my version of a Listen and Learn, an Inside the Mind of a Skating Fan. I have a list of 9 Tatsuki Machida videos below, some I’ve seen before and some I have not. I will watch each and provide my commentary as a way of saying goodbye. There’s also a few fun facts throughout. I hope you enjoy 🙂
1. Nebelhorn Trophy 2010 FS
I want to start with the oldest video I can find and still want to watch. I definitely haven’t seen this before. He looks quite young. But off to a signature dramatic start. Looks refined and a 4T to boot! This was before anyone really knew or cared who he was. Was he a late bloomer? I should look that up. His skating here is still juniorish, juniorish like you’d see from someone who’s 16 or so, not 20 like he would have been. I’m not a fan of this dramatic music. Unfortunately I got bored in that footwork sequence and looked at my phone. At this stage of his career his skating is very dramatic but he’s not so much reaching to the audience. I know that develops and I know his run of the blade and complexity is coming still. Surprising second 3A so late in the program, impressive! What music is this?? I like the end far more than the start! (added: Legends of the Fall music and choreographed by Nanami Abe)
Fun Fact #1: Tatsuki won this event over a lot of people that no one really remembers today (except perhaps Kevin van der Perren, I also guess Brezina is still skating and Menshov is still trying). So in all fairness, there were some decent people at this event.
2. Nebelhorn Trophy 2010 Exhibition
Oooohhh an exhibition skate! With a hat and suspenders and so sparkly! What music will it be?!?! Ooooh! Somebody to Love! How fun! I did not know this guy had it in him! A fun side. And a 3A. I imagine it’d be difficult to skate with a hat. This program is not exceptionally complex, but it’s so upbeat and fun. What is this music change? Do they relate in some way I don’t see? And another music cut. This has become weird. But oooh, what a fun ending!! Sliding on the knees and throwing hat! I love it. Looks like he had fun with this skate.
Is this encore from his SP this season? So fun! Maybe I should find that program. Why did he never skate to such upbeat music in his later years. It would have showed off much more of his personality! He likely would have reached a larger audience and gained a few more fans.
Fun Fact #2: Not long after Nebelhorn Trophy 2010, Machida moved to the US to train in California, where he was coached by Anthony Liu for two years.
3. Icegala Bolzano 2012 Exhibition
I imagine this one seems random. Mostly just picked this one as I am very intrigued by his outfit! Don’t Stop Me Now – this boy is apparently a Queen fan. Love the scarf and sweater vest and glasses. Seriously though, where did this guy’s personality go??? He’s so joyous and loose here. I feel in the two years since the last video his speed has greatly increased. He’s looking more like the Machida I’m familiar with. Hip thrust?!?! Who is this guy?!!? Air guitar! He’s having a blast. I was just about to say I love this program, possibly my favourite of his, but there’s little content throughout, even for an exhibition, and then he goes and tries a 4T! Crazy! I think I’m finding myself weirdly attracted to the glasses, scarf and sweater vest…..I’m not sure what to do with this. (added: I have no memory of seeing this program at the Olympics gala! Must find!)
Fun Fact #3: Tatsuki was born on March 9, 1990 and didn’t come into a lot of success until his 20s, something not often seen in figure skating. He didn’t have much early success as a junior but it did come in his final years at that level. And then when he became a senior he couldn’t get recognized by the Japanese Skating Federation amongst the numerous talented men in Japan
4. Japan Super Challenge 2012
Again, a random choice, but what is he wearing? And is he holding a sword? This image drew me in and I had to continue watching. Awe the sword didn’t last long, but there’s also a pony tail. So odd. How did I not notice that at the start. What is this event even? I’ve never heard of it. Jumping in a kimono – I think that would give you an idea for what the ladies wear! Especially Tuktamysheva this season. But all you’re doing is jumping now Tatsuki. What??! The kimono is coming off and the sword is back. This is so weird!?! Is the one sleeve supposed to be off. Love the dramatic sword fighting. The flying camel is also fun with a sword. Is it plastic? Real? Sharp? Putting the other sleeve on now, I’m guess it wasn’t supposed to come off. Overall, I’m not sure how I feel about that program….
Fun Fact#4: Tatsuki won his first GP event (Cup of China) in 2012, beating Daisuke Takahashi in the process. This and a bronze at Skate America that year earned him his first trip to the GPF.
5. World Championships 2014 SP
My first thought when this started was oooohh I love the British Eurosport Commentators! And secondly, is this really his first World Championships! That’s crazy! Dramatic start. with some complex 1 foot skating. Very nice opening. I love his lines going into that 4T, it’s so mechanical but pretty at the same time. He’s just flying out there. What an arch on that camel spin, he looks like a bird about to take flight. Why don’t more skaters stack their programs to get more points in the second half, imagine how high this would have scored if it had been. I love the energy in the footwork sequence. He’s really feeling the music. There’s so many nice edges but also lots of quick turns and pauses. It demonstrates his control and edge-work. There’s a lot of arms going on, but not even in a flaily way. Goodness I love that camel spin. He’s a better spinner than I thought he was! Buddy show some emotion at the end. That was perfect. But nope, still so dramatic. Wow, you could crack a smile. Yikes I’m being a little hard. But you don’t need to be so dramatic all the time, remember how much fun you were in those earlier videos. I’m sorry Eurosport guys, this wasn’t going to be a WR. That program did cast a spell on me and everyone else though. A very calm and relaxed and perfect program. Well done! The commentators are still raving. Wow. But seriously, this wasn’t beating that SP in Sochi. You need to put the jumps in the right place to beat WRs.
6. World Championships 2014 FS
I had wanted to include his FS from the Team Event in Sochi here, but apparently you can’t find much for Olympic programs online anymore (at least not on youtube). Not so sure about those feathers Tatsuki. I like the colour dynamic, but the feathers I’m not so sure of, and this is coming from someone who studies birds. I do love Firebird music. Nice head twitch, so bird like. Very fast to start, but not much going on between these quads, but he did get the quads done. He’s still skating so fast, love the added flare and bird poses throughout. He’s fighting a little, but going for it. I think this music is a little too fast and frantic, I prefer the SP style. And then slower music begins as I say that. He still doesn’t necessarily emote at this level. He feels the music for sure, but the audience doesn’t necessarily feel along with. Oooh he’s getting a little sloppy. Now just knocking off the jumps. And he’s excited. He’s frantic. Love the leaps, very Patrick Chan like. Are you gonna crack a smile after this one?? Ooh there’s little one. I don’t think I particularly love that program though. Nothing too special about it. But he definitely skated it well.
Fun Fact #6: At the World Championships in Saitama, Tatsuki won the SP and just narrowly lost the gold medal overall (0.33 of a point!)
7. Skate America 2014 SP
That’s a fun flowy and bedazzled and generally ugly shirt Tatsuki. I don’t think I’ve actually seen it before. He sure has a flair for dramatic openings. Again, so fast. I love the simplicity and edges and holds he sometimes has. I imagine Buttle would love choreographing for him. He would tone down his dramatic-ness and accentuate the aspects I love. He just might have my favourite camel spin. I love the entry into that flying sit with the twizzle right before. So many twizzles. There’s also a lot of hair going on. This skate didn’t come as easy as Worlds, but still very good. This program doesn’t have the same feel as last years, not the same energy. I don’t like it as much, kinda falls short to me. And as before, a smile would be nice at the end.
Fun Fact #7: Tatsuki studied literature at Kansai University in Osaka and this season he had difficulty balancing skating and school and committing the necessary time for both. It’s been said, the JSF would not allow him to withdraw from the GPF to finish his undergraduate thesis.
8. Skate America 2014 FS
What a lovely blue blouse. What a plunging neckline. He’s always so serious. What happened to the Machida I saw in the earlier videos? He really doesn’t look like he’s having fun. So serious. Isn’t that starting very similar to how he ended his SP. Again dramatic start. I love the strong powerful back crossovers so much, so smooth and powerful. Very nice 4T. I love the sound of edges. Nice entry into that 3A, was that a back and then forward bracket? Not as difficult as back rocker but I applaud you! Difficult entries are fun! That back inside camel looked weird. I loved that leap after the 3S. He’s mastered the leap. And I love it. I just love the moments of pause too. The music here is a little boring though, repetitive and slow. And then it changes, fun and frantic. Machida likes that style I’ve learnt. There’s not always the most difficult transitions but he goes for it. And always with such a dramatic flair. I’m not sure abut that spread eagle with the knees bent into a spiral….but the leap after was great! He lost it a little at the end there, too excited. And a little emotion and exhaustion at the end! I love that we get to see some emotion! He really needs a haircut though. I like a lot about this FS, probably more than Firebird, but still the program isn’t too memorable.
Fun Fact #8: Tatsuki came to Skate America armed with all he had and the scores from that event remain some of the highest this season (3rd SP, 2nd FS, 2nd Overall). If he could have found that magic again, I think he would have done quite well in the second half of this season.
9. Japanese Nationals 2014 Medalist on Ice Exhibition
I’ve never seen this one. No one knows he’s retiring yet I assume. He sure likes that starting post. Ahhhh, this is his SP from last year. I did enjoy that program greatly. He’s mastered the pause and holding of poses. He’s become quite an artistic skater. He knows how to work the music and move to it. Was that a mistake or some weird choreography? 3A! This seems like a farewell celebration skate. I feel joy in his skating right now. Just from simply skating: no pressure. Forget those FS disasters; just skate and leap and twizzle. He is good at all three. Love that camel spin twizzle thing. I loved that program so much. I’m not going to watch his speech. I know absolutely no Japanese and I’m assuming this is where he retires and I don’t want to see him sad or the audience sad or any of that. I’ll choose to remember that great performance.
Fun Fact #9: Tatsuki Machida will now begin a Master’s program in sport management at Waseda University (Fun Fact 2.0: Yuzuru Hanyu is also a student at Waseda, where he is enrolled in e-School and studies Human Informatics and Cognitive Sciences (didn’t think I could make it through a whole post without mentioning Yuzu, did you??))
Thanks for reading!
Let me know your thoughts on the above programs in the comments. Also let me know who you’d like me to watch next!