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A baker’s dozen takeaways, with some looks to the future, from the 2018-19 figure skating season, which ended Saturday in Japan with the United States winning the World Team Trophy.

1. It’s time to give Russia’s Alina Zagitova full – and massive – credit for what she has done the past two seasons.

Zagitova and her coaching team were unfairly criticized in some quarters for what turned out to be a brilliant strategy of doing all seven jumping passes in the second half bonus area of the 2018 Olympic free skate. Not only was that an impressive feat of stamina, the bonus points Zagitova got for those jumps were the difference between her winning gold and getting silver.

When a Zagitova worn down by a post-Olympic whirl of appearances flopped to fifth in the 2018 World Championships, staggered to fifth at this season’s Russian Championships and adidas Originals Superstar Women's White/White/Black AF5581, there were suggestions she might be a one-hit wonder. Then, as she later said in an [BY9953] Womens Adidas Originals NMD_R2 PK Primeknit Sneaker - Olive Pink, Zagitova became so unsettled by the pressure and the thought of failure at 2019 worlds her jumps deserted her in practice, and she had thoughts of quitting.

Some of her struggles were not unexpected. She had grown some three inches since the Olympics. Her body proportions were changing from those of a girl to those of a young woman. New rules minimized one of her strengths by limiting skaters to just three jumping passes in the bonus area.

And Zagitova overcame all that, the psychological and the physical issues and the scoring changes, to win the 2019 worlds with two clean programs, a dazzling short and a strong, commanding free. At 16, she had added a world title to her Olympic title. That is worthy of unqualified acclaim.

2. Nathan Chen had a remarkable season, even if judged only by what he did on the ice.

When one puts his undefeated record in the context of having done it while simultaneously being a full-time freshman student at Yale University whose coach was 3,000 miles away, AUTHENTIC Adidas Oringinls Arkyn Boost CQ2748 Wht Purple Ash Pearl Women size

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By any measure, Nathan Chen’s performance at Worlds matches standard for transcendent greatness

Transcendent greatness in sports is both absolute and relative.

Absolute, because anyone who sees an exceptional performance can recognize it as exceptional judged against nothing but its own merits.

Relative, because we seek to define greatness by comparison, to determine levels of it (greater? greatest?) when judged by other exceptional performances we have seen or know of, no matter how hard it is to make such comparisons across long periods of time, with the wildly different athletic parameters of different eras.

No matter which standard we use, absolute or relative, Adidas Performance Women's Ultraboost X:Men/Women:Superior in quality in Japan was transcendent greatness.


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With a baker’s dozen of tweets, I wrap up Day 4 of the World Figure Skating Championships, a big one for Team USA:

*Nathan Chen (gold), who was simply otherworldly, and Vincent Zhou (bronze), confident and solid, gave the U.S. two men on the podium for the first time since 1996, when Todd Eldredge and Rudy Galindo went gold/bronze.

*Madison Hubbell and Zach Donohue’s bronze extended the U.S. streak of world dance medals to five years.

I’ve enjoyed covering the meet this way. I hope you enjoyed reading about it this way. (High-quality, uninterrupted NBC Sports Gold live stream made it possible.)

I’ll have more about Chen’s victory Monday on nbcsports.com, and there also will be a link to it here.

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Operation Tweet Storm, Day 3: Singles redemption, rhythm dance virtuosity at world figure skating

I set a tweet storm personal best today.

Pushed to do it after what Papadakis & Cizeron, Zagitova, Medvedeva and Tursynbaeva accomplished on the ice in Japan.

So much fantastic skating, in so many ways.

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