Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Kazakhstan in Sochi

The thing I wait four years for is finally here -- the Winter Olympics.  Oh, sure, I love the Summer Games, too, especially the gymnastics (Go Aliya Mustafina!), but figure skating is my first love.  I used to compete locally when I lived in Northern California, and I've been a life long fan of the sport ever since I first saw Gordeeva and Grinkov in 1994.

This year, though, there is a little something extra exciting about the Olympics.  Between it being in Russia -- a country and culture I have always loved -- and the excitement of the new Team Figure Skating event, there is plenty of reason for excitement.  But there's something more, too.  This year, we are rooting for Kazakhstan, wherever we can.

Denis Ten has a good shot at a medal in the Men's event.  His silver medal performance at Worlds last year was a true joy to watch -- he even won the free skate portion.  This season has been a bit more rocky for him -- but I have faith that he will peak at the right time.

Also from Kazakhstan (by birth, at least), though representing Russia, is the lovely and talented young ice dancer Elena Ilinykh.  She and her partner Nikita Katsalapov were among the winners of the Team Figure Skating event.  They will go down in history as being part of the first team to win it!  While they sometimes struggle with consistency, they have oodles of talent, and at 19 and 22 they are both young by Ice Dance standards.  They are considered a threat for the Bronze medal, but podium finish or no, they promise to be lovely to watch.

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