By Elaine Lies
GANGNEUNG, South Korea (Reuters) – Rappers, Spiderman and a sultry tiger took to the ice on Sunday as the world’s top skaters let their creativity take over in a gala exhibition, the final figure skating event at the Pyeongchang Games.
Galas are a traditional part of any major figure skating competition, allowing fans to glimpse a different side of the skaters, who do moves and routines not usually permitted under competition rules.
Each skater works up a separate routine that they use all year. Props and original costumes are also permitted.
Alina Zagitova, the women’s singles champion, wore a tiger-striped costume and set a lit candle on the ice for her sultry routine to “Afro Blue” by Jazzmeia Horn, while Uzbekistan’s Misha Ge came out in a boxing robe and gloves.
Canada’s bronze-winning pair Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford used a folding chair for an emotional rendition of Billy Joel’s “Piano Man”.
Others went for comedy.
Ice dancers Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte of Italy did a Charlie Chaplin routine to a medley of themes from his movies, drawing laughter and applause, as did pairs skaters and compatriots Valentina Marchei and Ondrej Hotarek, who skated to “Barbie Girl”.
Pairs skaters Ryom Tae Ok and Kim Ju Sik, the only North Korean athletes who qualified for the Games instead of being allowed to take part, drew the loudest roars from the crowd for their routine to a song whose title means “Nice to Meet You,” during which they waved and bowed to the arena.
Boyang Jin of China, known for his quadruple jump prowess, obliged with several in his “Spiderman” routine.
Japanese men’s champion Yuzuru Hanyu’s routine was dedicated to the victims of Japan’s massive March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
Spain’s bronze medalist Javier Fernandez from Spain, however, stole the show when he came out carrying a gym bag in a routine that depicted an aerobics class.
Flirting shamelessly with the crowd with lines that included “You can call me later” and “A body like this just doesn’t happen,” he performed pushups to “Let’s Get Physical” before stripping down to a muscle shirt and Superman cape.
Once the skaters cleared the ice, volunteers who have helped at the venue piled on to it to take selfies and chat around the Olympic rings, signaling the end of the show.
Until Beijing in 2022.
(Reporting by Elaine Lies)