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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Once Upon a Time in Show Skating

The demise of figure skating viewership been an ongoing complaint, many blaming the introduction of IJS and declining creativity. However, another aspect of the decline that has been mostly ignored is show skating's quality. I am not just talking about professional tours but also the exhibition shows for competitions. Spending my adolescence and young adulthood watching the golden age of skating, I find it difficult to stomach most of the exhibitions programmes today.

I know all about the financial difficulties most skaters face today, the high requirements of COP and the limited remaining time and resources to dedicate to decent exhibition programmes but for me, all of these reasons still don't excuse the lackluster programmes put out on the ice. Since 2006, I have been trying to follow exhibitions but end up finding myself distracted or bored to sleep.

The thing is, I do believe creating innovative or groundbreaking show numbers like this one below for instance is time and money consuming:

However, I believe creating something entertaining and fun without stretching your resources shouldn't be that difficult. Perfect examples:

Unfortunately, I see very little of these performances as of late. Granted, Verner has an innate showmanship but one needn't rip off his/her pants or show off his arm muscles for the desired effect, nor does one need to twirl around his partner on top of his head like Bonheur (although they are always welcome. :)) ) Nevertheless, picking an interesting showpiece music and integrating a few different and interesting moves to that music should usually suffice. I find it ironic that most top skaters seem to lack this ability or desire, while some of the lower ranked skaters in competition can come up with the most entertaining show numbers. And it really wasn't the case before, which is more depressing.

I think ladies are the worst in this respect. Most are too afraid to leave their safe zone of skating with generic moves to romantic slow pop music and thus temporarily curing my life-long battle with insomnia. For me, the most surprising of those skaters was Yuna Kim, precisely because she is anything but generic or boring in competition, she is the fire and grace on ice at the same time. I am curious if this is a cultural thing, although given Mao Asada's show numbers, I highly doubt it:

So I wonder, will the skating gods ever grace us again with such lovely and sometimes highly LOLsy show numbers:

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