Lausanne, Switzerland

 #FigureSkating #UpAgain

As the winter season comes to an end, a final celebration of the feats of the incredible athletes with the Figure Skating Greatest 5 #UpAgain Moments of the season have been selected.

5. Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN): The One and Only

Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN) Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games Beijing (CHN) GettyImages 1369680733

Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN) competes during the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing (CHN) @GettyImages

Yuzuru Hanyu has made Figure Skating history in many ways. He is the first and so far only Japanese male skater to win Olympic gold (in 2014) and the first man since 1948 and 1952 Olympic Champion Dick Button (USA) to win back-to-back Olympic gold medals (in 2014 and 2018). He is the first Skater to perform a clean quadruple loop in competition (in 2016). He also became the first to surpass a total score of 300 points.

Nevertheless, the Japanese super star continues to push the limits. He competed in his third Olympic Games in Beijing and although he missed the Grand Prix as he recovered from injury, he pursued his dream of landing a quadruple Axel. In spite of injuring himself again in practice in Beijing, Hanyu went for the quad Axel at the Olympic Games, but he missed.

“The day before the free skating, I hurt my leg,” Yuzuru explained. “I jumped the quad Axel with conviction, landed it on one leg, and that’s when I sprained it. The degree of the sprain was worse than I thought. If it had been a typical competition, I would have withdrawn.”Hanyu plans his first appearance on ice since the Olympic Games in shows in Japan end of May. He has not yet discussed publicly his plans for the future.

4. Kaori Sakamoto (JPN): The Gladiator’s Gaze
Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN) Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games Beijing (CHN) GettyImages 1369680733

Kaori Sakamoto (JPN) competes during the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing (CHN) @GettyImages

Kaori Sakamoto is not a one-hit-wonder, but has grown step by step to become the World Champion she is today. There were bumps on the road as well, even in this season where she turned in many spectacular performances. Starting in the Grand Prix, Kaori displayed a new confidence. She won NHK Trophy and Japanese Nationals to qualify for her second Olympic Games. In PyeongChang in 2018, she was a newcomer, but finished a solid sixth. In 2022, Sakamoto aimed higher and earned the bronze medal with two excellent performances plus she contributed to Japan’s first podium finish in the Olympic team event.

Kaori’s programs in the Olympic season were both very telling – showing strength and perseverance. In the Short Program, she was the fierce “Gladiator” to music from the movie by the same name and the theme of her Free Skating was the strength of women. 

However, before heading to the ISU World Championships in Montpellier, the now 22-year-old had to overcome some struggles in training and had to get used to her new role as the top favorite for the title. Sakamoto overcame these difficulties to claim World gold, as the sixth Japanese woman.

“In the beginning, because I wasn't really in top form, it was hard for me to try to push myself and I also felt a gap between where I was and where I wanted to be,” Kaori revealed. “But over the days my performance started to really pick up and gradually I was able to tell myself it wasn't really the result that counted. I just wanted to really give it my all and eventually I was able to feel free from the pressure on what kind of the result I needed to gain and just focus on giving it my all, which has been my theme for this entire season.”

Following the ISU World Championships, Sakamoto performed in shows in Japan.

 3. Papadakis/Cizeron (FRA): The perfect dance  

Papadakis Cizeron Figure Skating Beijing 2022 OWG©Getty Images 1370136251

Papadakis/Cizeron (FRA) compete during the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing (CHN) @GettyImages

Gabriella Papadakis/Guillaume Cizeron did things unheard of in Ice Dance. In their debut at the ISU World Figure Skating Championships 2014 they placed 13th. The next year, they won gold - and their meteoric rise was not a fluke. The French went on to dominate and collected one title after the other. At the 2018 Olympic Winter Games, they were edged out for gold by Tessa Virtue/Scott Moir (CAN) by less than one point.

Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron (FRA) PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games Gangneung (KOR) @GettyImages 921190946 (1)

Papadakis/Cizeron (FRA) compete during the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in Pyeonchang (KOR) @GettyImages

Their only other defeat came at the 2020 ISU European Championships when Victoria Sinitsina/Nikita Katsalapov (RUS) snatched gold. In 2022, Gabriella and Guillaume cruised to gold at the Olympic Winter Games and the ISU World Championships, setting new highest scores. They earned their fifth World title – they are only the second couple in history to have as many.

While their triumph in Beijing was something they Ice Dancers had worked for their whole life as athletes, performing at the World Championships at home in Montpellier was a special highlight of this incredible career.

Following the World Championships, Papadakis/Cizeron toured through France, enjoying each performance for their audience. “It is an opportunity to be close to our audience, to connect with them and inspire the next generation,” Gabriella noted.

The French have not yet made their future plans public.

2. Wenjing Sui/Cong Han (CHN): A dream came true

Wenjing Sui, Cong Han Figure Skating Beijing 2022 OWG ©Getty Images 1371527671

Sui/Han(CHN) pose during the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games @GettyImages

Wenjing Sui and Cong Han (CHN) can look back at a distinguished career. Ever since they hit the international scene as juniors in the 2009/10 season, these popular Skaters were a top team. After winning three consecutive ISU World Junior titles, Sui/Han were successful at the senior level as well, collecting a record of six ISU Four Continents titles and five World medals including two gold in 2017 and 2019. At the 2018 Olympic Winter Games, the Chinese earned the silver medal and there was only one prize missing in their resume – the Olympic gold.

Wenjing Sui, Cong Han Figure Skating Beijing 2022 OWG ©AFP 1238590346

Sui/Han(CHN) compete during the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing (CHN) @GettyImages

And the 2022 Olympic Winter Games took place in Beijing, in their home country, in the city that has been their home for many years and in the ice rink that they have trained and competed in for a long time. However, it was a long and winding road for Sui and Han, who had to overcome many setbacks in the past. Injuries and surgeries forced them to fight their way back to the top more than once. And they came back. In February 2022, a dream came true on home ice in Beijing when Wenjing and Cong crowned their exceptional career with Olympic gold.

“Compared with 2018 we did change the color (of the medal). Four years ago we (set) this grand goal,” Sui said. “We have experienced so many surgeries, I think the most for all the athletes here. So I think everything is meant to be. We have proven ourselves."

Sui, Han (CHN) 2018 Olympic Winter Games Pyeonchang (KOR) GettyImages 918495496

Sui/Han (CHN) pose during the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in Pyeonchang (KOR) @GettyImages

For the Olympic season, the Pair Skaters had returned to a previous program, “Bridge Over Troubled Water”, for the Free Skating. “"We hope our program can be that bridge over troubled water to support everyone in their darkest moment so they can overcome their lows, just as we have overcome our injuries,” Wenjing shared.

Sui/Han did not attend the ISU World Figure Skating Championships and have not made any announcement regarding their future plans.

 1. Nathan Chen (USA): The “Rocket Man” soars to gold

Nathan Chen Figure Skating Beijing 2022 OWG©Getty Images 1369687218

Nathan Chen (USA) competes during the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing (CHN) @GettyImages

When little Nathan started out as a young Figure Skater in Salt Lake City, it did not take long until his exceptional talent was noticed. He became the student of renowned coach Rafael Arutiunian – and the project of his coach who invested all his knowledge and experience into him. Chen had success as a junior, won bronze at the ISU World Junior Championships in 2014, but he celebrated his breakthrough at the senior level. 

By the time the 2018 Olympic Winter Games came around, the American had become a medal contender, with gold medals from the ISU Four Continents Championships 2017 and the ISU Grand Prix Final 2017/18 under his belt. Then a disastrous Short Program in PyeongChang that left him in 17th place destroyed all medal hopes.

 Nathan Chen (USA) 2018 Olympic Winter Games Pyeonchang (KOR) GettyImages 919166936

Nathan Chen (USA) competes during the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in Pyeonchang (KOR) @GettyImages

But Nathan came back strong – he won the Free Skating in Korea and rose to 5th place. Chen went on to dominate the next Olympic cycle, earning three consecutive World titles 2018 to 2021. In Beijing, the city his parents once left to start a new life in the United States, Nathan celebrated his ultimate triumph and as the “Rocket Man” to songs by Elton John (who, by the way, was excited to see that the Skater used his music and congratulated him) soared to Olympic gold.

"Truly I never imagined I’d be able to make it this far in my career and be able to go to two Olympics and have the opportunity that I had today. It really means the world,” Nathan said. “Certainly it's been a pretty long journey, and of course includes a lot of people that have supported me throughout my career. So to be able to have a moment like this and be able to reflect back on all the people that have helped me throughout my time in skating means a lot."

Chen, who turned 23 on May 5, wanted to attend the ISU World Figure Skating Championships 2022, but withdrew shortly before the event due to injury. He has announced that he plans to go back to university in the summer, but has not made any announcements regarding his competitive skating career.