Tuesday, March 1, 2011
Figure Skating - Asian Winter Games 2011 - Thursday, 3 February
The first event for today was listed as starting at 4 pm, and I was rather nervous that today would end up like Tuesday--missing about half of it, due to the schedule being changed.
Then I got a call from my friend R (who's also my transportation) that she just found out that her daughter's ice skating class was going to all the figure skating events. So she was already there, could I catch a taxi and meet her there? (I had the tickets.)
I know that every Kazakh takes "taxis" without problems, and that most foreigners do so too. But I still feel awkward hitch-hiking, which is what "taking a taxi" is here (except you pay here, but still, it feels just like hitch-hiking! In a foreign language!)
In the end, she found her daughter's teacher and drove to pick up Sophia and me, and we made it there around 4:30 pm.
It was much more crowded than Tuesday, but still not packed. Our tickets were checked this time.
We came in during a pairs' event, sat through another pairs' event, and then watched the men.
I spent a lot of time trying to get decent photos. These people move so fast, and digital cameras are slow--by the time I've clicked the button to take a photo, they've already jumped, twirled, and landed.
The men looked more like boys and weren't as exciting as I had expected. (I later heard others saying that the competition hadn't been all that great; someone said they thought there were other events going on in Europe, which had attracted the better people.)
Still, it was very, very exciting. Until moving to Kazakhstan, I had only ice-skated a few times, and never as an adult. Now I've ice skated many times, each time getting better and faster. I enjoy practicing going backwards (very slowly and shakily) and doing a beginner's spin (very, very shaky!) So watching these people fly backwards and forwards effortlessly, spin with legs in the air or in various poses, jump and twirl and land on one leg--this was all very amazing and breath-taking.
Denis Ten, Kazakhstan's competitor, was by far the best performer. His jumps were high and sturdy, he glided effortlessly over the ice. He was amazing to watch. (And take pictures of.)
Misha Ge, from Uzbekistan, was the most fun to watch, although he was a bit shaky and fell once or twice. He looked so young--his cheeks bright pink from the cold--but he dressed in red with flair, and he definitely had flair to his movement. He had attitude and confidence, which helped him in the points department.
It lasted several hours, and during a break, we got up and wandered around. We managed to find better seats, closer to the ice, and no one bothered to look at our tickets. I'm sure we were in the 3000 Tenge ($20) seats now.
Behind us were two men with enormous cameras. One man spent most of the time sleeping, only waking up when a Japanese guy skated. He took dozens, perhaps hundreds, of photos of this guy.
All in all, a fun and thrilling evening. It was so much neater to see this in person than on TV. And made me want to go ice skating again! Although I now realize just how poorly I ice skate compare to these people!
Below: Denis Ten in black and white; Misha Ge in red.