Skatin’ out the Olympics

I have to admit, I’ve been a skating fan my whole life, right down to learning to do a sit spin and a single toe loop on my roller skates in the early 80s.  One of my earliest memories is pretending to be Dorothy Hamill in my not too sizable living room and knocking over a lamp with my camel positioned leg.  (Luckily no damage was evident and my mom didn’t hear the crash.)

So, as with every Olympics sine childhood, I was glued to the figure skating of the 2010 Olympics, and it was amazing, of course, but in some ways I thought the routines fell a little short in the “WOW” factor.  First off:  these skate grabbing spins and positions that were newly sanctioned by the skating federation and garnered extra points when performed in the routines.   I grew tired of the skate clasping in the pairs competition and was pleasantly surprised when the female announcer commented on the same thing, saying it was a shame they changed up all the beautiful spiral positions (as in above photo of Olympic Champion 2010 Kim Yu-na) by reaching back and grabbing that skate blade–every damn time.  But it gets worse.  This newly implemented scoring system required this position as a spin (as in this Caroline Zhang photo from 2008 on the right).   I find nothing beautiful or breathtaking in this crotch-exposing-skate-grabbing-front-leg-lift, or whatever they call it.  I’ve been informed by a friend of mine that this was a required move for the routines.  Seriously the judges should do some reconsideration, because this pose looks good on no one and is quite ugly, and again, I grew tired of seeing.  Perhaps the only one who could pull it off well was Sasha Cohen with all her extreme extension flexibility in the last Olympics, but she was an exception.

Next: This stress on the jumps, the triple-triples, the quads, axles, etc. do show the athleticism of competitors but somehow take away from the beauty of the sport, which seems to be a minimal factor now.  More points should be given for the fine spins some do than the lack-luster ones from those exceptional jumpers.  I did not see one split jump.  I remember years back Paul Wylie wowing the crowd doing four in a row near the end of his program, which did not garner him a gold medal either, but these jumps were way better than another triple something-something.

And where did the lay-back spins go??  Hmmm?  These are hands down the most beautiful part of ladies figure skating, but only one in the top 6 skaters of the ladies free program, Mirai Nagasu,  did one, a  complete lay-back variation spin with four position changes…and it was beautiful, the high-light of my ladies figure skating night. (At left is Mirai in 2008 with exquisite lay-back!)

All complaints aside, my favorite moment was surprisingly the ice-dance free skate.  Though I was rooting for the Americans Davis and White,  Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada were phenominal and finally broke the rein of Russian domination in the Ice Dance category.  Gold and Silver Medalist in Ice Dance
Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir, Meryl Davis & Charlie White

Photo source: Getty Images

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7 Comments

  1. I’m so glad I stumbled upon your blog. You are spot-on about the new, ungainly required move (I didn’t know it was required until I read it here. That explains a lot) and the absence of the exquisite lay-back spins. I believe Mirai Nagasu was the only skater in the last group to do one, and it was lovely to see. The routines all look as if they were done by the same choreographer.

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  2. Your are right Chris, the routines were all lack luster and sort of duplicated. I updated with Mirai Nagasu in the post. She had become my lay-back queen. I certainly look forward to seeing her in the future. Thanks for the comment.

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  3. I agree completely with everything you said Jenn. My mom’s friend’s grandson, competed in nationals this year and the emphasis is always on jumps. I should send you a link so you can see how beautiful he skates, with real elegance, which sadly isn’t as valued anymore. I guess some of the male skaters have stopped doing the quad jumps as it is causing damage to their ankles. Good post Jenn and I love the pic of the ice dancers.

    Lis

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  4. I iceskate and I absolutely love it … soon I want to be able to do an axel spin. I really like this post . Please look at my posts as I would like to be a journalist and would appreciate tips on my writing style. 🙂

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  5. I completely agree with what you’ve said. I used to ice skate when I was younger, being captivated with Sasha Cohen’s beautiful lines and spins on ice. But unfortunately, with the new judging system, I’ve lost interest in the constant contest on who can do the most jumps. The layback is my absolutely favourite to watch but now, it’s just an excuse to enter into a Biellmann. Even in the sit spin, every skater finds it necessary to change from and outside edge to an inside edge and I find that rather ugly to watch. Figure skating used to be an art and the judges need to redefine the scoring system again in order to retain the artistry in this beautiful sport.

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