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Friday, April 11, 2014

Four more years?

I've been a skating fan for most of my adult life - sometimes a dedicated fan, at other times a more casual one. With the latest Olympic season having come to an end and many of my favorite skaters ending their careers, I find myself at a fandom crossroads as I contemplate the off-season and the coming Olympic quadrennial.

In many ways, figure skating has changed so much in recent years that the gap from the sport and art that first got my attention is huge - and not necessarily in a good way. It’s not the IJS, at least not in the “oh noes, the math, bring back 6.0!” way that some former fans have expressed. I think maybe it’s that I was spoiled in that so many of my favorites had long careers, and I became attached to them, but not to the newer generation. And here I do blame the IJS, because there’s not enough room for individual expression, and too many skaters seem concerned with the outcome more than the process. Who will spend months developing a concept and storyboarding a program like Pechalat/Bourzat did with The Little Prince? Even Evan Lysacek studied those stupid birds when he did Firebird. Nowadays it seems like a lot of skaters just study the rulebook.

On the other hand, just two weeks into the off-season and there's also been much excitement. Russian partnership splits, swaps, new pairings and other excitement! Aliona Savchenko, representing... France? And soon to come, for better or worse: music with lyrics...

A taste of things to come?

Still, to follow a sport, you really need favorites. It doesn’t matter if it’s football, swimming, gymnastics or a spelling bee, if you can’t root for someone, there’s no involvement, only impersonal admiration. And with all my favorites at the end their careers, I need to find new favorites. In some cases, it's quite easy. But will it be enough? That's a question I can't yet answer.

Work with me here, judges.

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