Daniel Samohin: 'I take risks because I skate for Israel'
One of figure skating's most powerful jumpers, the 19-year-old could steal the show in Pyeongchang.
Veteran men’s singles skater Alexey Bychenko is understood to be Israel’s best shot at a medal at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. But not if the 2016 World Junior Champion has anything to say about it.
PHOTOS: Israel at the Winter Olympics
Daniel Samohin became the first skater from Israel to win a World Championship title at any level, and he did it in dramatic fashion. After botching a triple flip in the short program and finishing ninth, he nailed the free program launching a series of impressive quad jumps: Two quad toe jumps and a quad Salchow, plus a triple Axel. That powerful series landed him a personal best score and the gold medal.
You can watch his 2016 World Junior Champion gold medal performance here:
It’s not that surprising that 19-year-old Samohin is already one of the world’s best figure skaters – it’s kind of the family business. His father and coach Igor Samohin competed as a pairs skater for the Soviet Union. His mother Irina, a former rhythmic gymnast, is his choreographer and his older brother Stanislav also skated for Israel. After the family moved to Israel in 1996 – Daniel was born in Tel Aviv – the elder Samohin spent five years coaching the Israeli national team.
Samohin grew up in the U.S. – he was three when he and his mother joined his father and brother in California – but he has been competing internationally for Israel since he was 15. He is one of 10 athletes representing Israel in Pyeongchang.
He made his Grand Prix debut last season at the 2016 Skate Canada International, placing fifth, and went on to take the silver medal at the 2016 CS Golden Spin of Zagreb behind Bychenko. His best result so far this season was a third place at the Minsk-Arena Ice Star event in Belarus and he finished 10th at the U.S. Classic in September (an event he won in 2015).
But with success comes risk. At Skate America in November, he was in fifth after the short program, but had to withdraw when he suffered a shoulder injury due to a fall on a quadruple Salchow jump in the long program.
“I like to take risks, because I skate for Israel,” said the two-time national champion. “I’m glad to show people [that] you can skate for a small country, do your work, and you’re going to make it. It’s fun for me to try a third quad and show people that we can do it, that Israel is strong.”
Samohin is one of the few skaters to have successfully landed two quad jumps in a short program, three quad jumps in the long program and five quad jumps in a single event.
He is an overall favorite for a top result, but he’ll face tough competition and not only from Bychenko: Nathan Chen of the U.S. is a heavy favorite for the gold, and great performances are also expected from American Max Aaron and Japan’s Takahito Mura.
In Pyeongchang, Samohin will skate his short program to “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World” performed by Seal and his long program to the Russian gypsy folk song “Two Angels.” He’s likely to need his entire arsenal of quad jumps to win a medal, and you can bet he’ll be deploying them all.
More Winter Olympic coverage on From The Grapevine:
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