“Everything a skater feels on the ice…is love.” – Yuri Katsuki
[WARNING: SPOILER ALERT!]
There is a subtle but important distinction between victory and triumph.
Victory is the opposite of defeat. Triumph is the opposite of failure.
Yuri Katsuki triumphs in the GPF in the way that matters most: he skates the best free skate of his career, a personal best that just incidentally happens to break the world record laid down by his coach, hero, and love of his heart, Viktor Nikiforov. It is a thoroughly satisfying, emotionally moving performance.
2014 Olympic champion, Yuzuru Hanyu famously said following his world-record breaking performance in Barcelona at the 2015 Grand Prix Final, “Score is score, my performance is my performance. It’s difference.” Although the scores determine the color of the medal one receives, they cannot hope to measure the culmination of the skater’s emotions in that moment, the hours of hard work, the familiar bitterness of past failures, the sheer exultation and free joy of skating on ice. We see JJ rally back after his most disastrous skate; we see Phichit pour out his heart and love for skating into every move; we see Yurio soar to greater heights than before, inspired by the skaters he has found worth chasing. In this way, all of our GPF finalists, regardless of their score, won today.