Jan. 5th, 2014 10:27 pm
bex77: (Default)
Today marked my return to the ice rink after a hiatus of 7 years.  I used to travel all over to see figure skating - Skate America, Nationals, Worlds, and exhibitions or pro skating too!   But it got too expensive and they changed the scoring system and life changed and I stopped.  Today it was time to go again! 

US Nationals are in Boston this week!  And my loving sister made it possible for me to go!  We have all-event tickets and will be popping in to the arenas this week for many hours of skating practices and competition!  Most of the action is at the TD Garden later in the week.  

I started today with the Novice competition at the Boston Convention and Expo Center in South Boston.  They build an ice rink inside the exhibition space on the lower level!   Most of the competitors today are in their mid-teens.  There are five levels of competition at Nationals:

1) Juvenile
2) Intermediate
3) Novice
4) Junior
5) Senior (the ones you usually see the top 3-4 on TV)
        (they go on to the Olympics in a month) 

I got to see the novice ladies and the pairs short programs with my 6 year old niece.  I was worried that it would be too tough for her to sit hour-after- hour watching skaters, but she was enthralled!  I also worried that I had forgotten the rules, or how to judge the moves.  But it all came back to me, and we were sitting with experienced fans who were kind enough to help me indoctrinate her.  

I saw friends that we made online in the 90's that often traveled to the same events with us, that I had not seen in 10 years!  And I made new pals, some of whom told tales of starting in with skating fandom when it came to their city in 1971!  Skating fans are good people! 

I had also forgotten how fun it is to people watch!  Many of my favorite skaters are coaches now.  So you can looks behind the boards and see past champions, or glance left and right in the stands and see faces you've seen on TV so many times!  You can even get a glimpse of Brian Boitano!  Skating is still a small sport where everyone mingles!  It was so wonderful to be back mingling with them.  

bex77: (Default)
Sometimes, you know. You can see it. You get that tingle at the back of your neck and think, "That was magic! This kid could go far." Maybe you mention it to the person sitting in the rink with you. Maybe you don't. But you make a mental note and you watch. You think you've seen an Olympic champion figure skater.

The first time I can remember that feeling was at the Bright Arena at Harvard in the Fall of 1993. There was a tiny girl from California in a plain Pepto-Bismol pink costume, with a story of having gone out while her coach was away, against his wishes, and taken her senior skating test. She had that spark, that speed, that confidence...that something. We all mentioned it that night. And for years afterwards. Her name was Michelle Kwan. Everyone knows her name now.

I got the same feeling in the Fall of 2004. There was this gangly boy - way too tall to be a contender. We'd seen him before, but there was something different this year. Read more... ) It sure was fun to see that potential realized last night!
bex77: (Default)
You can't tell from coverage in the press or online, but the World Championships for figure skaters is this week in L.A. This is the competition that will determine how many people we get to send to the Winter Olympics next year in Vancouver.

TV coverage starts today. The coverage is a good news/bad news situation. There's a lot of it, but you have to have cable (or fast internet) to see it. And with the time difference, it's probably a "record and watch later" situation, too. There was no USA TV coverage yesterday, unless you live within shouting distance of Canada and can see their coverage. That left many die-hard skating fans in the States watching the live feed of the compulsary dances and pairs short programs online from the Turkish television. *sigh*

On the Oxygen Channel, they're showing a fair amount:

Wed Mar 25
- 4:30-6:30 p.m. EDT [men's short (might include be pairs short)]
- 6:30-8:30 p.m. EDT [men's SP, live]

Thu Mar 26
- mid-2 a.m. EDT [pairs' FS, live]
- 11 p.m.- 2 a.m. EDT [men's FS, live]

Fri Mar 27
- 4:30-6:30 p.m. EDT [ladies' short; might also be original dance?]
- 6:30-8:30 p.m. EDT [ladies' SP, live]

Sat Mar 28 mid-2 a.m. EDT [free dance, live]

The only coverage on broadcast TV is on NBC, 9-11 p.m. EDT [ladies' FS, live]

There are some online sites that say they'll be streaming looks most likely to work. Many of the foreign sources have live feeds that are blocked for US viewers. Bleh.

Here's a pretty good article on who might win.

Lots of new names since the last Olympics, so here's a chance to get up to speed on who you might see next year.

If you're a USA homer, my guess is that the only chances for US Medals are in Dance from Belbin/Agosto (who won the silver at the last Olympics), and men's with Evan Lysacek or U.S. Men's champion Jeremy Abbott. The U.S. pairs champions (McLaughlin/Brubaker) are currently in 9th, and the women (Rachel Flatt and Alissa Czisny) will probably meet the "Asian buzzsaw" of the Koreans and Japanese. But many of the predicted winners have been out injured for parts of the season, so it's hard to say what will happen here.

The new judging system (accumulated points for elements rather than the old 6.0) is bizarre, so I mostly try to enjoy the skating and stop worrying about medals. Not sure how much patience I'll have for watching it...after having been to so many live events, the fluffy partial coverage drives me bats. But I do love a perfect axel jump, a spread eagle, a pairs lift so high in the air, and those dance twizzles! Not to mention dishing about the costumes!


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