Figure Skating and geekery. Name a more iconic duo! For those not in the know, a lot of skaters are big nerds and we get these delightful programs as a result.
Back in 2018 I did a round up of some of the best geeky Figure Skating programs at Pyeongchang, and I’ve decided to do it again for Beijing 2022. Only this time instead of focusing on just science fiction and fantasy programs, I’m broadening the scope to include Disney, popular musicals, martial arts films, and action films.
Before we launch into the programs themselves, though, lets do a quick explainer of how Figure Skating works for the newbies. And please, if you are a newbie or someone who only pays attention to skating at the Olympics, I absolutely embrace you with open arms! But give me a second to explain some basic concepts so that you know what you’re watching. Once you get the basics, feel free to tune right in and just enjoy the beauty of figure skating!
Figure Skating Basics – Individual Events
There are four Figure Skating disciplines represented at the Olympics; Men, Women, Pairs, and Ice Dance. These individual events begin on February 8th and run through the 19th. You can view the full schedule here, but keep in mind Beijing is one of the earliest time zones, so you’ll most likely be viewing it the day before it’s listed on the website. You can convert times here.
Men, Women, and Pairs disciplines have a Short Program, which has a set series of elements that they must include and restrictions on certain elements. For example, women can’t do quadruple jumps (jumps with 4 rotations in the air) during the short program. They must, however, include a double or triple axel (two or three rotations in the air of a forward facing take-off jump).
For Ice Dance, the equivalent is the Rhythm Dance, which has a theme every year. This year’s theme is ‘street dance rhythms,’ which include hip hop, jazz, reggae, reggaeton, blues, funk, swing, krump, popping, and disco. This theme doesn’t lend itself well to geeky themes, so there are no Rhythm Dance programs on this list. (That said, watch this one anyway, because it’s really neat).
Each discipline also has a Free Skate/Long Program (or Free Dance for Ice Dance), which is a bit more flexible on the requirements. As I mentioned earlier, women can’t do quads in the Short, but they can certainly do them here. And the few that are capable of doing so almost certainly will. Keep an eye on Sasha Trusova for some impressive quads!
The medal placement will be decided by a combination of the two scores.
Figure Skating Basics – The Team Event
Countries that have skaters in at least three of the four disciplines can also compete in the Team Event. They can invite skaters to participate in the Team Event only so that they can have participants in all four disciplines. Paul Fentz, who did the Game of Thrones program at Pyeongchang, will be at Beijing 2022 for the team event only. (Sadly, his programs this year are not geeky).
The winner of the Team Event is decided by points associated with the placement only, and not an accumulative score. The ultimate score here does not matter as much as the actual placement in each segment. They’ll get ten points for first place, nine for second, and so on.
Countries can choose two disciplines to split among their skaters (for example, two men and two pairs), and two disciplines performed by the same individual or pair/dance couple (for example, one woman doing both the Short and Free, and one ice dance couple doing the Rhythm Dance and Free Dance).
At the end of the event, everyone who participated in the event gets the associated medal with their team’s overall placement. This is often a great way for skaters who may not have a strong chance at an individual medal to earn one as part of the team.
As of the time of this writing, we don’t know who will be performing what segment, so I’ve noted each possible competitor for the Team Event with an asterisk.
A COVID Era Disclaimer
As of the time of this writing, the programs I’m highlighting are based on the people who are currently scheduled to compete at the Olympics in Beijing 2022 and the programs they currently have listed. It’s worth noting that with Omicron causing surges worldwide, this could very well change due to illness. While I hope that we don’t see too many Olympic dreams squashed by the pandemic, it’s likely that one or two of these these athletes might not get to perform them. I won’t be including the alternates, so if there is a last minute switcheroo, that may not be reflected here.
Best of lucks to the athletes in their efforts avoiding COVID in the following weeks. I hope all their Olympic dreams have a chance to come to fruition.
The Geeky Programs
February 8th – Men’s Figure Skating Short Program
Adam Siao Him Fa – FRANCE
We start our adventure in geeky programs with Star Wars. Adam Siao Him Fa is relatively new to the senior level, with the pandemic-interrupted 2020-2021 season being his first. As a result of the pandemic interrupting literally everything, he hasn’t had much exposure to an international audience. That said, he’s pretty amazing and I look forward to seeing this program on Olympic ice.
Deniss Vasiļjevs – LATVIA
Vasiljevs has been a fan favorite for many years, earning a bronze medal at the 2022 European Championships. His short program features The Battle Drums from Princess Mononoke. This is a medley, however, so some of the program is Sarakiz: II. Romanza, a decidedly ungeeky but nonetheless entertaining song.
Boyang Jin – CHINA
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Boyang Jin won my heart with his 2016-2017 Spider-Man program, and further sealed the deal with his 2017-2018 Star Wars program, which I highlighted in the last Olympic post. He’s a nerd through and through. This year’s nerdy offering is Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.
Yuma Kagiyama* – JAPAN
This is the first of three Gladiator programs. Historical action dramas are incredibly popular this year! You’ll be seeing quite a few.
Yuma Kagiyama is an exciting competitor to watch. This is only his second senior season, which means his entire senior career has been under the shadow of COVID. Even under the circumstances he’s been winning gold medals at numerous prestigious competitions, beating some of the best skaters out there.
*Yuma Kagiyama may perform this program as early as February 6th at the Team Event, dependent upon Japan’s team selections.
February 10th – Men’s Figure Skating Free Skate
Okay, so this one isn’t technically called the “Apocalypse Medley.” I chose that name myself. But it’s got music from both Interstellar and Armageddon, which are sci-fi apocalypse films. So it fits, you know? I love a good apocalypse movie, so I’m all about this program!
*Daniel Grassl may perform this program as early as February 7th at the Team Event, dependent upon Italy’s team selections and qualification for the Free.
Yuzuru Hanyu* – JAPAN
Ten to Chi to
Two-time Olympic gold medalist and, according to many, the absolute GOAT. Hanyu will be attempting a quad axel, which has never been successfully landed and ratified in an ISU event before. (Editor’s note: His attempt at Japanese nationals was two-footed and not fully rotated, but at least he stayed on his feet! – Jamie)
Ten to Chi to is an historical television drama series from 1969. Expect beautiful interpretation of epic music and (if China allows gifts to be thrown on the ice) a rain of Pooh bear plushies to rain down at the end.
*Yuzuru Hanyu may perform this program as early as February 7th at the Team Event, dependent upon Japan’s team selections and qualification for the Free.
Alexei Bychenko – ISRAEL
Pirates of the Caribbean
Bychenko has been a mainstay of figure skating for many years. Fans have lovingly dubbed him “Uncle Bychenko.”
Uncle Bychenko often brings the drama, whether he’s doing a vampire-inspired program with drops of blood on the costume, or going full-blown Les Mis on the ice. This time he’s embodying a pirate set to the Pirates of the Caribbean soundtrack. Expect it to be Extra. Very Extra.
Vincent Zhou – UNITED STATES
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
That’s right, we get two Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon programs. Thankfully they won’t be happening on the same day as Boyang Jin’s is a Short Program on the 8th and this one is a Free Skate on the 10th, but this music is definitely becoming a bit of a war horse. If you’re into martial arts films, though, you have plenty of choices this year!
*Vincent Zhou may perform this program as early as February 7th at the Team Event, dependent upon the United State’s team selections and qualification for the Free.
February 14th – Free Dance
Madison Chock and Evan Bates* – UNITED STATES
Daft Punk Medley
“Why is Daft Punk considered geeky,” you may ask? Well, it’s all about what Madison Chock and Evan Bates chose to do with it.
Their Free Dance uses Daft Punk music to tell the story of an astronaut and an alien falling in love. It’s my favorite program of the entire season. I may be biased, though, because Daft Punk is one of my favorite groups and Chock/Bates are my favorite dance couple, so how could I not be completely enamored with it?
Chock and Bates are featured as part of the Olympic series On Edge, which follows the Ice Academy of Montreal and their Olympic hopeful teams.
*Chock and Bates may perform this program as early as February 7th at the Team Event, dependent on the United States’ selections and qualification for the Free.
Fournier Beaudry and Nikolaj Sørensen* – CANADA
While Gladiator is primarily rooted in historical fact (mostly), you can’t deny the epic quality to the music. It feels like an epic fantasy story on ice.
The program is choreographed by Scott Moir, who won gold with his Ice Dance partner Tessa Virtue, at Pyeongchang 2018.
*Beaudry and Sørensen may perform this program as early as February 7th at the Team Event, dependent on the Canada’s selections and qualification for the Free.
Maria Kazakova and Georgy Reviya* – GEORGIA
Horror Medley (Including Saw II)
If you love horror, this one is for you. Everything about this is beautifully disturbing. They chose the horror genre and committed to it with their whole heart. The creepy “lalala” will haunt my dreams.
*Kazakova and Reviya may perform this program as early as February 7th at the Team Event, dependent on the Georgia’s selections and qualification for the Free.
Lilah Fear and Lewis Gibson – UNITED KINGDOM
Lion King Medley
Fear and Gibson are an incredibly charming Ice Dance couple, and their Lion King medley fits them perfectly. The choreography is high energy and super fun. Their dual hydroblade at the end is particularly cool to see.
They are also featured in the On Edge series, which I highly recommend watching before the Olympics begins. It follows most of the top Ice Dance couples in the Olympics, and there’s a high probability that at least two of them will end up on the podium at the Olympics. Possibly even three.
February 15th – Women’s Figure Skating Short Program
Kaori Sakamoto* – JAPAN
Another Gladiator program!
Kaori Sakamoto is very special to me, so I’m grateful she is doing a geeky program this year so I can include her. The field for Japanese women is very thick, but she’s managed to stay on top or near the top for many years. I’m particularly fond of her Matrix program from a couple years ago (which I got to see live at Skate America 2019), but honestly I love anything she puts out.
*Kaori Sakamoto may perform this program as early as February 6th at the Team Event, dependent upon Japan’s team selections.
February 17th – Women’s Figure Skating Free Skate
Alexandra Trusova* – RUSSIA
Alexandra “Sasha” Trusova, aka the Russian Rocket, is my current favorite figure skater. She is known for being able to do quadruple jumps (four rotations in the air), and has made history already. She’s the first female skater to land the quad Lutz, quad flip, and quad toe loop jumps, and the first to land two and three ratified quads in a free skate. No matter what happens at the Olympics, she’s going to be remembered.
That said, she’s going for five quads in her Free Skate at the Olympics, which will set a record. She successfully landed five at the Russian test skates last year, but as it was not an official ISU event, it doesn’t count as a record yet. Sasha will be skating to Cruella and one of her costumes has the names of her own dogs on it (she has four), which is a little bit of dark humor that is absolutely in line with who she is as a person. Whether she’ll wear that particular costume at the Olympics I’m not sure, but I hope she does.
Go, Russian Rocket, go! I’m rooting for you!
*Alexandra Trusova may perform this program as early as February 7th at the Team Event, dependent upon Russia’s team selections and qualification for the Free.
Natasha McKay – UNITED KINGDOM
A heist film program! This is a fun idea for a program and it’s going to be cool to see it on Olympic ice. This will be the first Olympics for the five-time British Championship gold medalist.
Young You – SOUTH KOREA
Les Mis is a classic choice for figure skaters, and I end up belting out the lyrics every single time. It’s also becoming a bit of a war horse, but I’m fine with that. It’s great music.
Young You has a lot of promise, and incredibly big shoes to fill. She’s following in the steps of another GOAT, Yuna Kim. Yuna Kim won gold at Vancouver 2010 and silver in Sochi 2014 (controversially). After watching Yuna Kim’s 2010 victory, Young You took up figure skating. Now it’s her turn to represent her country at the Olympics.
Wakaba Higuchi* – JAPAN
Lion King Medley
Wakaba is one of my favorite skaters out there right now, and this program is absolutely one of her best. The only program of hers I enjoyed more is her Skyfall program. But that had its time. We’re living in the Lion King Era now.
She can do a triple axel (forward facing take-off jump with three rotations in the air), which not many women can do. I’m incredibly excited to see if she’ll land it at the Olympics.
*Wakaba Higuchi may perform this program as early as February 7th at the Team Event, dependent upon Japan’s team selections and qualification for the Free.
Josefin Taljegård – SWEDEN
A Joker program?! Yes. It’s happening. Josefin has been one of Sweden’s top skaters for many years, but this will be her first Olympics. The program is unique and entertaining.
February 18th – Pairs Short Programs
Sui Wenjing and Han Cong* – CHINA
Mission: Impossible 2
Sui/Han is a pair team to watch. If you don’t follow figure skating as closely as I do, you should make a note of them and be sure you’re looking up when they perform. They are AMAZING. Don’t miss them!
It’s difficult to find a good video of their Mission: Impossible program online, so if you aren’t a fan of fancams, maybe wait for the Olympics. That said, here’s a video of their performance at the Asian Open in the fall.
*Sui and Han may perform this program as early as February 7th at the Team Event, dependent upon China’s team selections
February 19th – Pairs Free Skate
Peng Cheng and Jin Yang* – CHINA
Sword Dance (The Banquet)
This is another fancam. Sorry guys. Chinese Pairs seem to be difficult to find on YouTube.
*Peng and Jin may perform this program as early as February 4th at the Team Event, dependent upon China’s team selections and qualification for the Free.
February 20th – Figure Skating Exhibition Gala
The following programs may or may not make an appearance at the Olympics. The Exhibition Gala is performed after the competitive programs have concluded and the medals have been handed out. It’s invitation only, so not all skaters will get to participate. Most medalists and popular skaters are typically invited, however.
Additionally, skaters may change their Exhibition Gala programs without warning, so just because they’ve performed it previously this season, doesn’t mean it’s guaranteed to be their chosen program for the Olympics.
Trusova is my favorite and I’m not even sorry about how much of this article she’s taken up. Anyway, here’s her Wonder Woman Exhibition Skate. Enjoy!
Onward To Beijing 2022!
And that’s that, folks. Barring any injury, program changes, or COVID disruptions, these are the geeky figure skating programs headed our way in February.
Author: Angel Wilson
Angel is the admin of The Geekiary and a geek culture commentator. They earned a BA in Film & Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz. They have contributed to various podcasts and webcasts including An Englishman in San Diego, Free to Be Radio, and Genre TV for All. They’ve also written for Friends of Comic Con and is a 2019 Hugo Award winner for contributing fanfic on AO3. They identify as queer.
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