On February 5, the ISU Skating Awards ceremony was held in Zurich, Switzerland. The award is presented for the third year in a row, and for the first time – offline.
In 2019, sports agent Ari Zakarian announced the figure skating Oscars – the ISU Skating Awards were invented to “showcase the best that has happened in figure skating over the season.” That’s what Zakarian said, but things didn’t go according to plan in the first year of the award’s creation: the coronavirus made adjustments not only to the figure skating competitions, but also to the newfound ceremony. For two years in a row, the ISU Skating Awards were held online, and it was not until 2023 that viewers could finally see the figure skating Oscars in person, and Zakarian himself was spotted eating a banana backstage at the show.
The main ceremonial performances were also held behind the scenes. The hosts of the show, World Championship medalist Johnny Weir and sports journalist from South Africa, Elma Smith, talked about the nominees and joked in a special studio with the gold awards. Meanwhile, guests and contenders for prizes performed on the ice at the Zurich Arena. The show was staged in cooperation with Art on Ice, probably the best project on ice, which combines performances of the best skaters in the world with performances of the world pop stars.
Thus, in Zurich Ilya Malinin, Luna Hendricks and Guillaume Sizeron – Gabriela Papadakis were accompanied by the former lead singer of Spice Girls Melanie Sy, Eurovision winner Gjon’s Tears and other artists.
There was a lot to see and listen to: it is worth paying tribute to ISU – the show was a success. Not everything was so clear with nominees and winners of the award. In the first nomination “Best Newcomer” were presented Nina Petrykina from Estonia, Rinka Watanabe (Japan) and Isabo Levito (USA) – the latter won. Fans and experts have a question: where is Ilya Malinin, who in his first year as an adult became the leader of men’s singles skating not only in America, but also in the world? Everything became clear when the American with Russian roots was awarded the prize “For Special Achievement”.
Recall that 18-year-old Malinin was the first ever to perform a quadruple axel in an official competition. Two-time Olympic champion Katharina Witt received the same special award, which is not voted on by the audience, but by the ISU Council. The former German figure skater won in the “Lifetime Achievement” category.
Yuzuru Hanyu, Luna Hendricks and Madison Chock – Evan Bates competed in the Best Suit category. Here, too, it was not without questions – the Belgian single’s outfit was often criticized for its “intimate” color. Sometimes it was unclear whether Hendricks was wearing it or not. And still, the American duo became the winners in the category – their costume in the free dance of the season-2021 – 22, created by Chock herself, the fans could not fail to appreciate.
In the categories “Best Coach” and “Best Choreographer” – no questions asked. She-Lynn Boerne has been working only with top athletes for the past years, and her productions are a work of art. Patrice Lauzon beat Rafael Harutyunyan and Stephane Lambyel for the Best Coach award. The Montreal ice dancing school got theirs. Quite deservedly.
Papadakis – Cizeron also won for Best Entertainment Program, a well-deserved win. Their rhythm dance of the 2021-22 season is still called a breakthrough for ice dancing – if you remember that number at the Olympics in Beijing, where the French were the first to try the wok style. Stylish, fashionable, youthful, as they say.
And, finally, the nomination that interested Russian fans the most. Anna Shcherbakova, the only representative of Russia at ISU Skating Awards, claimed for the prize “Most Valuable Skater”. One day before the Ceremony in Zurich, the media reported that the 2022 Olympic Champion would not be coming to Switzerland – the ISU explained it with “safety reasons”. By the way, most of the winners also were not present in Zurich: Chock-Bates, Levito, Lauzon made their comments via videoconference.
Shcherbakova did not have this honor, because the winner of the nomination was Nathan Chan. The American, who had suspended his career to study, just like the Russian, became the winner of Beijing-2022. And he deservedly became the most valuable. Shcherbakova, let’s believe, still has everything ahead of her.