Aigoo Adventures: 4CC 2017

Aigoo Adventures

When I was 13, I remember watching Tara Lipinski (USA) at the 1998 Winter Olympics. She caught my attention because we shared the same name. The actual sport caught my attention, too — the spins, jumps, costumes, music, elegance — they captivated me. After, my interest in figure skating wavered on and off, but in 2009, my interest in the sport grew. I watched the Four Continents Figure Skating Championship (4CC for short), and I became a regular follower of the men’s singles and ladies’ singles events. This interest led me to go on a day trip to the 2017 4CC event in Gangneung, South Korea.

Getting to Gangneung

Funny Toilet Sign at a Korean Rest Stop

Gangneung is about two hours and forty minutes away by bus. Waking up early was rough, for I was taking the 6:20 am bus, but I managed to take a nap. At the rest stop, I saw a sign on the toilet door saying to “[r]ush the used toilet paper as it is”. In Korean, the sign says to throw the toilet paper in the toilet because it dissolves. Typically, there’s a separate rubbish bin next to the toilets for us to dispose toilet papers in, but I guess not this toilet. Anyway, I “rushed” my toilet paper as it had requested, haha!

Reaching the Rink

Gangneung Ice Arena

I reached Gangneung, and the city dismayed me by its countryish appearance and aura. I sense that the area’s not quite ready for the Winter Olympics next year. That aside, I had no problems taking a cab to the ice arena, which is about fifteen minutes away. The arena is out in the boondocks, and that made me realise something crucial. Rather than musing on that something, I walked around in circles trying to find the spectator’s entrance. Once I found it, I picked up my tickets for the men’s free skate and the exhibition gala, and I waited to go in. There I talked with an American woman who was also a figure skating fan.

Waiting and Watching

Ice Rink in Gangneung Ice Arena

Once I made it into the rink, I spent a lot of time waiting and watching. Hanyu Yuzuru (JPN) interested me the most, but he skated in the last group. I had to wait through 22 other skaters. Thankfully, a few other skaters interested me, and I watched and observed the following:

  • Nam Nguyen (CAN) had a solid free skate. He was the first contestant that made me go, “Niiiice!”
  • Michael Christian Martinez (PHI), who may not be of the same calibre as the top skaters, impressed me. He came a long way since the 2014 Winter Olympics.
  • Julian Zhi Jie Yee (MAS) turned out to be a pleasant surprise!
  • Jason Brown (USA) displayed wonderful musicality and emotion in his skate, which boosted his programme components score. I also noticed that he did a lot of moves that are usually done by the female skaters.
  • Misha Ge (UZB) was also another I looked forward to, and I enjoyed his free skate as well.
  • The three Korean skaters pretty much tore the house down from all the cheering . . . but I wasn’t too impressed with them. Of the three, I liked Kim Jin-seon (KOR) the most.

Yelling for Yuzuru

4CC 2017 - Before Hanyu Yuzuru's Free Skate 4CC 2017 - End of Hanyu Yuzuru's Free Skate

Three hours later, the last group finally came into the rink. I only had eyes for Hanyu — he’s all that mattered to me at this point. Though I will say that Jin Boyang (CHN), Patrick Chan (CAN), and Uno Shouma (JPN) were on my radar, too. XD That aside, I was super stoked when Hanyu finally came out! It was exhilarating to see Hanyu skate live. I cheered and clapped my heart out. There was a jump combination he flubbed, but he had no falls. He was absolutely brilliant. Asdfjkl;!!! I had a stupidly goofy smile on my face for him, haha! When he finished, the rink exploded with flowers and gifts; I have seen enough Pooh Bears to last a lifetime!

Medalling the Medalists

4CC 2017 - Men's Medal Ceremony

Hanyu didn’t win the gold medal :( He wasn’t able to overcome Nathan Chen (USA), who beat him by 3.75 points for the combined total of their short and free programmes. Last, but not least, Uno won the bronze. They did the medal ceremony for the three lads, and we all stood up to the US national anthem.

Escaping the Exhibition

I had to wait two hours for the gala exhibition to start. When it did start, I only stayed to watch for the first hour. I can’t say I enjoyed it. I was too knackered and far up to be able to see much, even on their video screen. Also, remember that crucial something I mentioned above? The arena is out in the boondocks, right? That means, there aren’t many cabs driving around. Imagine if I were to try and hail a cab with hundreds of other people, I don’t, and I miss my bus. Staying overnight in Gangneung on the streets did not appeal to me. So I made the decision to leave early. A cab pulled up as I left the arena, so lucky me! Talking to the cab driver confirmed my decision to leave early. Even he said it would have been impossible to catch or call a cab when the event ended. Thank goodness for my foresight!

Conclusion

In the end, I’m glad I attended my very first figure skating event. I enjoyed seeing the skaters perform live. I didn’t get a chance to meet any of my favourites, but seeing them from afar is good enough for me. This day trip was worth my time! I also visited a new city in South Korea. It didn’t quite win me over as Sokcho did, but I can at least scratch it off my imaginary list! 4CC was a great experience, but it has shown me that I am to not attend any of the Olympics events next year. 4CC was crazy as it is, so I can only imagine the chaos with the Olympics! I may attend if I can get a place to stay in the area, but I know that entire part of Korea will be completely booked! I’ll stay in the west and watch the events on TV, haha!

Comments

  1. Oh my goodness, this sounds amazing. I love to watch figure skating during the Winter Olympics, and I just watched the USA championships last month. I think I’m so infatuated with what they can do with such beauty and grace because it’s a miracle if I even make it around the rink once haha. That would be awesome to be able to see it all live! I don’t think we have a lot of events here in St. Louis, but I wish I would’ve known that the championships were in Kansas City cause I would definitely have taken the trip there to see it!

    I saw your tweet about the Pooh bears, and I’m laughing now because that is a LOT of bears!

    I’m glad you made that decision to leave early and were able to get a cab! That would have been awful to have not been able to find one once the event ended. You’d think that they would have more or make that information more widely known. Nonetheless, glad you were able to get back safely!

  2. It sounds like you had a fantastic time at Gangneung! It’s a shame that Hanyu didn’t win a gold medal, but he’s still an incredibly skilled skater from what I’ve seen in past Winter Olympics.

    Oh gosh though – I can’t imagine the kind of chaos there might be in Pyongyang for next year! xD

  3. That actually sounds like a blast. I have loved figure skating my entire life, and used to compete when I was younger. A few state and local competitions and whatnot, but nothing ever came out of it because equestrian sports took over my life and pocketbook, lol.

    I don’t even own my own horse anymore and STILL buy supplies and tack at expos I have no use for o.O
    I kind of want to find the money to lease a horse once we get moved, if hubby will allow it that is. He learned how expensive it gets and almost died BAHAHA

    Figure skating will always hold a dear place in my heat though, and I still love getting to see skaters compete when I can(we have ZERO rinks around here, so another reason I’m glad to be moving upward where it gets pretty cold. My kiddo is wanting to learn to skate)

    You took some good pictures too for the event! I’m glad you got to enjoy yourself on a trip! Even day trips are needed to get “refreshed” sometimes.

  4. That’s so cool that you got to attend a figure skating event in person! This is my favorite sport to watch during the winter olympics, the movements and choreography of the skaters are just so beautiful!

  5. Wow that sounds really cool! I enjoy watching the figure skating event but I have to be honest, I have no idea how to tell if someone is great or not haha.

    I also had no idea that S. Korea had male figure skaters! I actually wondered about that when you said you would be going to a figure skating event. I also hadn’t realized how many other figure skaters would be at the event! That’s really impressive that Hanyu still managed to get the silver medal out of all the contestants.

    It sounds like you had a lot of fun and I’m glad you managed to get out of there in time (or before time?) before it become too chaotic.

  6. Wow, watching live figure skating?! That sounds so amazing! I agree with Jenny I think it’s my favorite sport to watch as well. I remember I was 10 years old when I was following Michelle Kwan but she lost to Sarah Hughes.

    They def would have to hold the Olympics at an underdeveloped area right? Otherwise there wouldn’t be room for all the athletes and fans etc! I know Beijing built an Olympic Park just for the Olympics. :P

    You made a good call to leave early – that would have been chaotic to fight over cabs with everybody!

  7. That’s awesome that you were able to go to the 4CC and see your favorite figure skater live! I used to watch figure skating a lot when I was younger, but I haven’t kept up with it. Going to see 4CC seems like a fun and exciting experience!

    That was smart to leave earlier to catch a cab. I imagine it’d be crazy to leave at the same time as everyone else. I’m glad you had a good time at the event!

  8. Oh, wow I have never seen figure skating in real life, only on TV. I can tell that it must’ve been a great experience!

    I really want to travel around more often, too. I haven’t seen much of Germany even though I’ve lived here my whole life.

  9. Oh wow, that sounded like a really amazing time, especially seeing Yuzuru live. Hopefully before the Winter Olympics, they’ll get the city more ready for it.

  10. Sounds like you had both an interesting and enjoyable experience! I have never seen figure skaters live or in the flesh, but I remember being fascinated by them when I was younger because it was similar, in a way, to ballet dancing. I had wanted to get more involved and learn to skate but I never went past learning for a short time as a kid.

    I am sorry that your favourite did not win. 😞 But I am sure all the others were a glory to watch. Pretty funny that Pooh Bears were a popular gift!

    I think it was definitely smart of you to leave early. I have often been to events that are way out of town and it is a good idea to plan beforehand! At major events, some people spend hours lining up just to get out of the venue! 😆

  11. I’m glad that you had a chance to go out and watch 4CC. I didn’t know it was standard to toss toilet papers in another bin in Korea.

    It’s great when skaters put a lot of emotion into their work. The audience can really feel their expression [bonus points]. It’s funny how people were throwing pooh bears out after Hanyu’s routine. I wonder if they get to keep the stuff that was thrown at the end. Good thing you left early to be safe! Hope you’ll have a chance to meet one of your favorite skaters some day!

    Thanks for sharing!

  12. That is so neat that you got to got watch 4CC live! I remember watching Michelle Kwan as a kid but my ice skating knowledge is pretty much just limited to only the Winter Olympics.

    That’s great that you were able to catch a cab when you left.

    Geez, these skaters are so young! (Or maybe I’m just feeling really old?) Hanyu Yuzuru is 22 and Nathan Chen is 17?!

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