What Geeks Can Look Forward to at the Olympics
The 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang are going to be full of geeky programs in Figure Skating and you aren’t going to want to miss out on any of it.
While most of you might think the Olympics are just all sports and not anything for geeks to be interested in, you’re dead wrong. First of all, an argument can be made that sports enthusiasts and nerds are a lot more alike than we care to admit, but that’s not even what I’m talking about right now. I’m talking about Figure Skating and all the fandom junk that’s mixing in with it this year (and in years past!). You want Star Wars? Figure Skating’s got it. Steven Universe? Boom! We’ve got that too. Fan of anime? HA! We’ve got so much of that! Come right on down. Game of Thrones? No seriously, we’ve even got some of that. Seriously, nerds, what are you waiting for? The Olympics is waiting for you to tune in and feed your fandom needs. Give it a shot.
Figure Skating Crash Course For Newbies
For those of you not familiar with how competitive Figure Skating works, I’m going to give you a run down so this article isn’t totally Greek to you.
Each skater is going to have two programs that go towards their final score and a chance to earn a medal or “make the podium.” Below I’ll be referring to them as their “Short Program” and “Free Skate.” The Short Program happens first and is, well, short. The Free Skate is longer and happens second (often a day or two later). There’s also the “Gala Exhibition,” which happens after the scores are finalized, but not all skaters participate in that. It’s more of a “fun thing” and is completely optional.
There are four “disciplines” for figure skating being represented at the Olympics – Men’s, Ladies, Pairs, and Dance. Unfortunately none of this year’s Dance teams have any geeky music so I can’t introduce you to any of my favorite skaters there. Too bad, because I could go on and on about the Shibutani siblings and how amazing they are (no seriously, there was an incident where they RTed me tweeting at them about them being about a carton of orange juice and I got way too excited… it’s a thing, guys), but sadly…. not this year. But don’t worry. The Men, Ladies, and Paris more than make up for it with their programs.
And now that you’ve had a quick run down about how Figure Skating works, please check out the following geeky programs and jump right on in. Enjoy the geekery and let’s have some fun!
*For the purposes of this list, I’m skipping Broadway musical programs (with the exception of Dabin Choi’s Steven Universe/La La Land crossover) or this list simply would not end. That said, if you are into Broadway music, tune in and you won’t be disappointed.
Olympics – Figure Skating Programs
Boyang Jin (China) – Star Wars Free Skate
China’s Boyang Jin has a long history of skating to geek-themed music. Last year his Short Program was set to Spider-man music. This year his Free Skate is set to a Star Wars medley, including an adorable Cantina bit where he dances across the ice and shows just how energetic he can be mid performance. That incredible Star Wars medley earned him gold at Four Continents Championships last weekend and he’s one of the fan favorites to make the podium at the Olympics. Other top contenders are Yuzuru Hanyu (Japan), Shoma Uno (Japan), Nathan Chen (USA), and Javier Fernadez (Spain).
How cool would it be if a program set to Star Wars music won a medal at the Olympics? Pretty damn cool. Of course, a small bit of national pride has me rooting for Nathan Chen, but Boyang Jin is my favorite skater (sssshhh don’t tell my country that) and I’m a massive Star Wars geek, so rah rah, GO BOYANG!
Zhang/Yu (China) – Star Wars Free Skate
Boyang isn’t the only Chinese skater to pick a Star Wars theme. Pair skaters Zhang Hao and Yu Xiaoyu are also doing their Free Skate to a Star Wars medley. While I don’t follow them as closely as I do Boyang Jin, I must admit that anyone who chooses Star Wars music for any reason immediately earns a place in my heart. There’s is a much softer and more sentimental mix of music from the franchise and really tugs at the heartstrings.
Suzuki/Kihara (Japan) – Yuri on Ice Short Program
Japanese pair skaters Ryuichi Kihara and Miu Suzaki also have a history of geekery, but Star Wars was so last year for them. This year they’ve switched to the popular ice skating anime Yuri on Ice. They’ve chosen to use the title song, in which protagonist ice skater Katsuki Yuri skates to a program that tells the story of his ice skating career and life journey. They use his Free Skate music for their Short Program and it’s absolutely stunning. I’m incredibly happy that the creators of the anime get to see their creation at the Olympics this year in some form through this pair skate. They’re fans of ice skating themselves, so I’m sure it’s a thrill to them to see a part of their show make it to what’s arguably the biggest skating event of most skaters careers.
Paul Fentz (Germany) – Game of Thrones Free Skate
Paul Fentz from Germany will be taking to the ice to a Game of Thrones medley for his Free Skate. Not only will his music bring us mental images from the popular HBO program, but his outfit is fit for a King. The dude has gone all out to bring his program to life and I love it. He’s this years German National Champion, too. Bow before your King.
Olympics – Gala Exhibition
There’s no guarantee for individual Gala skates to happen, so this list are things that you may see. The Gala Exhibition is more of a celebration for the skaters after the main competitive events are over. The skaters can switch up with gala skates they do, or opt out of performing at all. That said, they tend to be a lot more fun that the main programs themselves as they aren’t constrained by the rules of the competition and can pretty much do whatever they want. That said, if you go in hoping to see one specific performance below, be prepared that it might not happen.
Evgenia Medvedeva (Russia) – Sailor Moon
Evgenia Medvedeva is a nerd through and through. She’s also a skating power house and has broken numerous world records. She loves anime, including the popular skating anime Yuri on Ice, so it’s no surprise that her skating exhibition is set to Sailor Moon. She’s a two-time World Champion, two-time Grand Prix Champion, two-time European Champion, two-time Russian champion… you get the idea. Will she win gold at the Olympics? We don’t know. She’s come in second place a few times this year. Will we see her Sailor Moon Gala skate? We also don’t know. But we certainly hope so.
Dabin Choi (South Korea) – Steven Universe/La La Land
Last year South Korea’s Dabin Choi used Steven Universe’s ‘It’s Over Isn’t It’ and La La Land’s ‘Someone In The Crowd’ as her Short Program. This year she switched it up and moved the program out of her competitive line up and instead performs it during the Gala Exhibition. As with all Gala skates, this means we may not see it at the Olympics, but there’s a chance so it’s worth tuning in to see if it’ll show up after the main events have ended.
Deniss Vasiljev (Latvia) – Lion King
Deniss Vasiljev, like many skaters on this list, is no stranger to geeking it up on the ice. A few years ago he skated to music from the Tron soundtrack. No joke! The up and coming Latvian skater (who, I might add, is quickly climbing the ranks and I wouldn’t be surprised to see take gold at a major international event very VERY soon) has decided to skate to ‘They Live In You’ from The Lion King as his Gala skate this year.
Want another geeky tidbit? His coach, Stephane Lambiel (also a famous former World Champion skater), had a cameo appearance in the hit ice skating anime Yuri on Ice and they posted pictures of themselves watching the show. Both he and his coach are big dorks and we love them for it.
Keiji Tanaka (Japan) – Spirited Away
Keiji Tanaka from Japan has been performing his popular Spirited Away Gala performance for crowds for two seasons. Along with Yuzuru Hanyu and Shoma Uno, he’s one of three male figure skaters coming out of Japan, but he’s the only one dipping his toe into geeky waters with his music this season. Along with Evgenia, and Suzuki/Kihara, he’s also bringing one of three programs that represent the anime crowd. Thank you, Tanaka. This geek appreciates you.
Author: Angel Wilson
Stephanie “Angel” Wilson is the admin of The Geekiary and a geek culture commentator. She earned a BA in Film & Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz. She’s contributed to various podcasts and webcasts including An Englishman in San Diego, Free to Be Radio, and Genre TV for All. She’s written for Friends of Comic Con and has essays published in Fandom Frontlines.
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