Most members of the Japanese team for Worlds will head to Four Continents in Taipei. Yuzuru Hanyu is the only skater on the World team who will not compete in Taipei. “I opted not to do Four Continents as it is in February so there really isn’t that much time left between now and then,” Hanyu said. “During that time, I want to work on the technical and performance aspects of my skating and strengthen them for Worlds.”

Besides training, Hanyu will be busy performing in shows in early 2016 and will also make an appearance as a member of the judging panel on “Kohaku Uta Gassen” (Red/White Song Battle), a prestigious live New Year’s Eve TV program, featuring Japan’s leading musicians competing against each other on male and female teams.

Mao Asada, on the other hand, welcomes the opportunity to skate at another event, so that she can be better prepared for Boston. “One of my reasons for choosing to compete at Four Continents is because of the year I took off my world ranking has dropped,” she said. “So I want to raise that up a little bit and also I want to have some more competition experience before Worlds.”

While it was a busy time in Sapporo, many of us inside and outside the press room were keeping an eye on what was going on at Russian nationals.

Canadian pairs coach Bruno Marcotte was also paying attention to events in Ekaterinburg. “I do like the Russian skaters and have a lot of respect for them,” he said. “I do find, not only in Russia, but also in Canada and the U.S., that the scores seem to go a little bit too high for the performances given. It is not to take anything away from the skaters; it’s the same everywhere. You watch U.S. or even Canadian nationals and the scores are so high — and then you get to Worlds and it all goes back to normal. But I guess it is part of the game and part of our sport.”