Search This Blog

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

That's entertainment: the Scottish OD

This one is almost too easy; who doesn't love Sinead and John Kerr's original folk dance to Erin Shore and Auld Lang Syne? It received an enthusiastic response from audiences (and commentators) in the 2007-8 season, at 2010 Worlds, and in galas around the world. During the 2007-8 season, the program certainly stood out in a sea of Russian and Eastern European folk dances, and of course, John stood out in his kilt!

There may have been better dances technically, but this is my favorite 2008 OD

Following the 2007-8 season, the Kerrs discussed the program (and the kilt) in this Golden Skate interview: "When the Dance Committee announced the rules, we knew we had to do something to portray our Scottish-ness,” John explained. “It would be hard for us to be Russian gypsies.”

“As soon as it came out that it was ‘OK’ to wear the national dress, John was keen on doing a Scottish folk dance with a kilt,” Sinead said. “Our fans would have been disappointed if we didn’t do a Scottish dance... you don’t have to work so hard on the dances if Scottish is in your heart; the dances aren’t something you go to learn. It’s something that is always done at weddings and school parties. When you’re young, you go to the cèilidh and do the dances. It’s just part of the culture.”  

John apparently was not the only one keen on the idea of wearing a kilt (source): "The first thing we had to check was whether it was within the rules to wear it. It pretty soon came from on high that people would be disappointed if I DIDN'T wear the kilt."

The Scottish OD was just one example of what the Kerrs brought to the ice as skaters and performers. Their ability to create and skate interesting and entertaining programs got them far in the sport despite several limitations - a late start in ice dancing, lack of height difference, being siblings, John's occasional issues with twizzles - and is a testament to what skaters can accomplish when they think outside the box. Their retirement from competitive skating was a huge loss for fans.

I can't believe this is the first time we've needed a tag for the Kerrs!
The concept for the "that's entertainment" posts was explained in the first entry in the series. If you have ideas and further suggestions, please feel free to share them!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Akiko Suzuki is wonderful

I am tempted to let the title of this post speak for itself, but let me expand a bit...

A few days ago, Akiko Suzuki won the ladies' event at the World Team Trophy for the second year running. This is not a major title, but I love seeing her do so well on home ice, especially after a disappointing Worlds and some rather unfair results this season (she should have won both her Grand Prix events). Actually, I just love seeing her do well any time, because she's just that lovely.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The blue pill, if you please!

Last Night, I dreamt of the most wonderful figure skating performance you could imagine! It was quite the program and one of my first thoughts was: What a shame that I can't convey the beauty of it to other people and let them share the experience.

But then it dawned upon me that I was worried quite without reason because, fortunately, in this age we have a means of transcribing a program and, in due course, make it available for others sharing all of the beauty and enjoyment!

Thank you IJS! You and my dream world are a perfect match!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Life, IJS and the protocols: A plea in favour of the beauty of numbers

There is an ongoing debate about the sport of figure skating as we perceive it and the sport of figure skating in perhaps its purest incarnation: Namely, as it is presented to us in the condensed and revisioned form of the protocols.

While some people may think it doesn't make sense to use the protocols to re-evaluate what they have just seen in real life or that it is detrimental and counter intuitive to justify a result they have previously disagreed with, I, for one, am totally at peace with them and it continues to puzzle me that a lot of people just think of the protocols as a bunch of arbitrary and ultimately meaningless numbers.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The best competition of the year

Scott Moir may not be a fan, but it's clear that the World Team Trophy, which begins tomorrow, is the funnest event of the season. The skaters seem to enjoy it, too, with all sorts of creative and entertaining antics in the team Kiss and Cry areas. Please let it be so at the Olympics as well!

A reminder of the greatness of the WTT

The WTT only awards team medals, along with some hefty prize money for all participants and gifts for the top three in each discipline. Last year, the podium consisted of Japan, the USA and Canada (in a tie-breaker over France), Team France won a well-deserved team spirit award, and Daisuke Takahashi had a kickass competition, culminating in a mass celebration of the Japanese, American, French and Italian skaters while he awaited his free skating marks.

This year's qualifiers are Canada, Russia, Japan, USA, France and China. Although most of the top dance teams are sitting this one out, there are still several past and present world medalists on the rosters in the other disciplines, including Volosozhar/Trankov in their WTT debut. Hopefully, Team France will be able to come up with creative ideas on par with last season's Amodio kidnapping, Bullet Time reenactment and Mummy pyramid.

And a reminder of the greatness of Team France 

The World Team Trophy can be watched online via the ISU's skating channel

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Creativity research and the evaluation of skating

Early in my graduate student days, I did research on creativity (always a fun subject!). At the time, I did not give much thought to comparing the procedures for evaluating creative works with how skating is judged. But over time, I began to wonder if the procedures used in academic creativity research might not be useful, to some extent, for the evaluation of program component scores. After all, are skating programs and performances not a creative blend of the athletic and the artistic?

Monday, April 1, 2013

Top 10 Performances of all time

With the only skating event left this season being the World Team Trophy, it's the time again to direct our attentions inwards and/or backwards. So, find here, assembled for you enjoyment, the ten best performances of all time.

New Programs News: Florent Amodio

According to a recent interview, Florent Amodio has already decided on his programs for next season.

While he did not divulge his new SP music yet, he enthusiastically revealed that his new free skate will be an extended version of this year's short program. As he had felt that his SP showed a lot of promise and he hadn't been able to skate it to its full potential, he and his coach decided to do the material justice and use it as a long program in the Olympic year.

Potential long program material.

"Of course, there will be some changes and a lot of additional choreography," elaborated Amodio, "so that it will essentially almost feel like a whole new program!" Being very excited about the upcoming season, he is fully aware of the fierce competition he will face in Sochi and considers himself very fortunate to have a coach who "always has a creative ace up his sleeve!"

Find the full interview here.