National Sports

Alaskan Keegan Messing wraps up his whirlwind Winter Olympics

Alaska figure skater Keegan Messing saw the world on his way to the Winter Olympics — arriving in the nick of time earlier this week after traveling from Vancouver to Montreal to Milan to Beijing — and Wednesday night in China, he gave the world a nice show to watch.

Messing, the Anchorage man who skates for Canada, ended his whirlwind Olympics with a strong free skate, displaying the showmanship he has become known for during a two-decade career.

He didn’t have enough quadruple jumps to contend for a podium spot — he attempted and landed just one — while finishing 11th in the men’s singles competition. At the 2018 Olympics, he placed 12th.

The gold medal went to Nathan Chen of the United States, who landed five quads to dominate with 332.60 points, 20 points ahead of silver-medalist Yuma Kagiyama of Japan.

Messing opened with authority by landing his first jump, a quad toe-double toe combination. The rest of his program included six triple jumps, including a triple flip that required an extra step to land, costing him a point or two.

He received a season-best free skate score of 172.37 points, which combined with his score from Monday’s short program gave him 265.61 points.

He looked like an average Alaskan when he took the ice wearing a red-and-black flannel shirt. “The ruggedness of flannel seldom makes its way to Olympic ice,” noted television analyst and retired Olympian Johnny Weir.


[Q&A: Anchorage figure skater Keegan Messing heads to the Olympics at the top of his game]

Messing’s nonjumping elements included some entertaining step sequences, including one with a spread eagle leading to a hydroblading move in which nearly his whole body is horizontal on the ice, his face seemingly touching the ice.

As is his custom, Messing ended with his hand over his heart. In the kiss-and-cry area, where he and coach Ralph Burghart awaited his scores, he again showed a cellphone photo of his infant son, Wyatt, to TV cameras. He did the same on Monday night.

Messing, 30, skated to the song “Home.” For him, home is in Alaska — he was raised in Girdwood and lives in Anchorage.

But for awhile last week, he had a temporary home in a Vancouver hotel. He tested positive for COVID-19 in the days before the Canadian team’s departure and the charter flight left without him.

Messing couldn’t head to China without four negative COVID tests, and it took some time to produce them. He left Vancouver on Friday (Alaska time) after a third negative test, got a fourth negative in Montreal, and then embarked on the long journey to Beijing that took him across multiple time zones.

He arrived about 24 hours before his short program, where he delivered a performance that ranked 9th in a field of 29.

Beth Bragg

Beth Bragg wrote about sports and other topics for the ADN for more than 35 years, much of it as sports editor. She retired in October 2021. She's contributing coverage of Alaskans involved in the 2022 Winter Olympics.