January 28, 2008

Jumpin' Blades!

St. Paul just finished hosting the U.S. Figure Skating Championships ("The Nationals"). You may not have known that. Apparently, few did or cared since attendance was much lower then expected.

I read about it all in the paper.

There was a time when I would have actually gone to the event. I've been to Nationals once before and I went to the Olympic Festival when it was held here. A young Nicole Bobek wowed the crowed. Remember her?

I'm not sure exactly when I quit following the sport of figure skating. There was a time when I would have been as glued to the T.V. on the weekend watching hours of figure skating as I am now watching hours of NASCAR.

Today, I can barely tell you who the up and comers are or who the current national champions are.

I think it all ended for me when it became apparent that it was all about the jumps. How many jumps can you cram into a few minutes? How difficult can you make the attempt look? It's not even always about cleanly landing the jumps either. If you wobble and land with your arms flailing, well, at least you tried. Or, if you fall on 2 jumps but make the other 4 that's ok. Or, if you double rather then triple that may not hurt you as long as you land it clean and the other skaters don't. All the T.V commentary does is talk up to the next jump.

I think I could see the end when Midori Ito landed the first Triple Axle for the women and then Tonya Harding became the first U.S. woman to do so. Right around then it became all about the Triple Axle. Men started landing Quads at the same time.

Or, maybe it was Scott Hamilton and his backflip? Maybe it was the entire career of the jumping, French brat and all-around poor sport, Surya Bonaly?

Now, anytime I try to go back to the sport of figure skating, I'm bored and I turn it off. Any given hockey game is cleaner then figure skating these days. If I want to see people hitting the ice for a few hours, I'll film myself skating at Parade Stadium.

There is no artistry anymore. It's all athleticism. It needs to be both.

The talk these days is about how young the women are. I'm not even sure I'd call them women: girls, is more like it. Dorothy Hamill, Peggy Fleming, and Katarina Witt, in their respective heydays, look geriatric compared to the young things on the ice these days. Tom Powers, in the Pioneer Press today asks if skating embryos are next. I wonder that myself. I'd be all for that if it would help the pro-life cause.

The costumes on these pre-pubescent beauties are cut so short I feel like someone should be arrested for child pornography.

The talk in the men's division these days is how macho and manly the new male skaters are. What does that mean? I think it means they do more jumping then flourishing. I think it's supposed to mean they look less gay although no one in the press is going to just come out and say that. I just did. It's interesting that many of the past male champions are straight. Clearly, sexuality has nothing to do with how well they skate. It should be artistry and athleticism. With the men, like the women, it's more athleticism then artistry these days.

The scoring system these days is atrociously complicated. Even the skaters in the "kiss and cry" area can't tell if they won or not. I wonder if the day tracing was removed from the scoring system removed some of the artistry as well. I know skaters hated tracing but I wonder.


Bottom line: Boring. I'd rather they brought Gordie Howe out of retirement and put him out on the ice for a few hours of stickin' and checkin'!

Update 7:00 p.m. Terry has conquered his spiritual acedia but replaced it with hallucinogens!

10 Comments:

Blogger Terry Nelson said...

I'm a big fan of Tonya Harding myself.

http://www.tonyaharding.com/

January 28, 2008 2:32 PM  
Anonymous Nancy Kerrigan said...

Wonderful post Catherine. I couldn't agree more.

January 28, 2008 3:32 PM  
Anonymous Kristi Yamaguchi said...

I'm in triple-toe agreement with this post!

January 28, 2008 4:31 PM  
Blogger ignorant redneck said...

The jump is to figure skating as the forward pass is to football.

I don't watch either.

January 28, 2008 4:57 PM  
Anonymous tom and katie said...

Cathy - We did not do the Kristi comment - someone is stealing our schtick.

January 28, 2008 7:08 PM  
Blogger Cathy_of_Alex said...

Terry, I hope this is your DID resurfacing and not some indication that you've had plastic surgery again.

January 28, 2008 7:10 PM  
Blogger Adoro te Devote said...

I wrote a long comment earlier, but blogger went down so it was all lost.

Anyway, I never heard that the Championships were here in our area until Friday morning...do they not advertise, or do they just send emails to the child porn onnoisseurs in hopes that they will spread the word?

Seriously, I can't believe what parents allow their children to wear. I haven't, clearly, been to figure skating competetions, but I HAVE been a Fire Marshall at the Convention Center when child dance events have taken place, and can't BELIEVE what costumes parents are placing upon their children.

I'm just waiting for Maury to have the show, "My four year old is a sex object"

Oh...wait..that might already have happened.

Seriously, does Victoria's Secret (which must be *STD's*) and Frederick's of Hollywood FUND these events?

I love the movie "Cutting Edge", but have you seen the Disney movie, "Ice Princess"? It does show some of the cutthroat issues.

I went to college with Miss Owatonna, who was also a Miss Minnesota contestant. She told stories of sabotage, most of which were the mothers of the girls, but some were the girls themselves. My friend really was a doll of a human being, and really, I didn't think she was that pretty, although as a human being she was truly beautiful. God bless her. But from her, I learned the truth of these pageants, and I suspect the same things apply to Figure Skating...and I haven't really watched it ever since.

January 28, 2008 9:15 PM  
Blogger Ray from MN said...

After the days of Peggy, Dorothy and Katarina, most guys stopped paying attention, especially when the winners were 12 year olds, weighing 80 pounds, whose bones hadn't hardened yet. It's no bid deal for them to fall.

Maybe they should go back to the days when they actually had to do "figures", something it probably takes many years of practice to master. That would eliminate the "girls."

January 28, 2008 9:39 PM  
Blogger swissmiss said...

Brian Boitano:
Can't believe you left me out and didn't even have the decency to mention my trademark, the Tano Triple. It's always about Scott Hamilton, always.

January 29, 2008 7:49 AM  
Blogger Bobby said...

Athleticism has clearly taken over, but I have no time to watch the figure skating events.

While now it's on NBC, which is good, in the past it was on ABC and later the ESPN Broadcast Network, which made it impossible to watch because our affiliate would always skip it to show ACC Basketball -- and I've never liked one certain team in that conference whose alumni have taunted me to the point I've actually wanted to take my own life like Magda Sorel or get on the Ponte Veccio and dive off the Arno, both of which led to jokes by my voice teacher on operas I've attended!

I agree on the costumes on the women. It's the 20th anniversary of the Witt Rule, and somebody seems to want to flaunt the Witt Rule.

The Witt Rule is the collective term in figure skating for dress code changes since the 1988 European Championships. The aforementioned East German legend wore a skimpy Las Vegas showgirl style costume trimmed with feathers. Many in the ISU was concerned about the wild costuming, so the rules were changed in the sport.

The original Witt Rule rule required skating tights, dresses and skirts to "cover the hips and posterior".

In 2003, the ISU changed the rules again, loosening restrictions on women's clothing and tightening restrictions on men. Outfits such as Scott Hamilton's outfit at Sarajevo (a speed skating type uniform) are now banned. Tights are now strictly forbidden for men. Sleeveless outfits are forbidden for men, and they cannot show their chest. As for women, pants are legalised, but the ISU needs to toughen the no bare chest rule and adopt it for women with a no-cleavage rule.

Clothing is also supposed to be free from "excessive decoration", such as feathers that can come loose and create a safety hazard on the ice.

Athleticism is the main reason the rules have changed on women's outfits, while modesty is the reason men's rules changed.

I've seen a few routines in my time and some of them have gone over the edge, especially when I have been there live. There was one incident (not a joke) where one taping (2003) resulted in a routine being re-shot multiple times without music playing.

January 29, 2008 11:30 AM  

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