Alexei Bychenko, a figure skater representing Israel, competed today in the team event. He did very well, putting out one of the few clean programs of the men’s competition. After the ten men skated, he found himself in second place behind Shoma Uno of Japan. This was a very unexpected, positive result for Bychenko.
And Bychenko, who used to skate for Ukraine but was able to obtain Israeli citizenship due to Jewish roots on his mother’s side, pulled off this feat skating to the most cliched Jewish song of all time—Hava Nagila. (No, his teammates didn’t come out onto the ice and hoist him up on a chair.)
A lot of people may not know this but when you become bar or bat mitzvah, they take you aside and tell you that if you ever get really good at figure skating or gymnastics and make it to the Olympics, you’re going to have to perform at least one program or floor routine to “Hava Nagila.” It’s mandatory. Just ask Roman and Alexandra Zaretsky. Or Aly Raisman. Since she won a gold medal with “Hava Nagila” on floor exercise in 2012, she was free to perform to a different piece of music in 2016.
Here’s Bychenko performing to “Hava Nagila” at the 2018 European Championships.