from the publisher
Lund, Mark A
Without a doubt 2004 has been the year for men in figure skating. From the U.S. Nationals to the World Figure Skating Championships, the men have finally settled into their quads and are actually delivering artistry for a complete performance.
Every sport goes through its growing pains, and figure skating is no exception. Do we really want to turn back the clock to the sport of the 1980s or 1990s? Thrilling, yes, but the past is the past. I can tell you that no skater wants to do school figures again – no matter how much they say they helped their skating.
While the stars of those decades continue to perform to some degree, they are now bringing their creative energies to the next generation of skaters that will be with us for another 10 years.
The vital component to all of this is that figure skating is a package deal. This is something the pros of those decades understood. You need to jump well, and you need to look great doing it. It’s not enough that you can do a quad – if you can’t deliver a look, you will not deliver the audience.
At Worlds we saw a maturing and stylish Evgeni Plushenko along with the vibrancy of Brian Joubert. And tell me, what is in the Swiss air? Yet another spinning sensation from that country in Stephane Lambiel – who can also do quads!
There is no question that skaters are still struggling with the technical demands of figure skating. They see those ahead of them doing the most difficult elements while scoring 5.8’s and 5.9’s for artistic impression. Is it their actual skating ability holding them back or is it their equipment?
At the 2004 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, Timothy Goebel, known as the quad king, withdrew owing to a variety of issues he claimed started with his skating boots.
The skating boot. It’s generally never talked about, as it is just assumed that it’s as standard as the Zamboni. Well, as there is a difference in ice resurfacing machines, there is a vast difference in skating boots as well.
For anyone who has skated, nobody starts off wearing the kind of boots that Michelle Kwan wears. Simply, as the skater begins to increase his or her technical performance, boots do too. In its most basic description, the sides of the boots for beginners are very thin and increase in thickness, or support, as a skater begins to execute single, double, triple and quadruple revolution jumps.
There has been a lot of recent discussion that the boot manufacturers have not modernized the construction of the boot in concert with the technical demands of the skaters. This is not a fair assessment, as a skating boot must do everything. It must spin, jump and do footwork and all the while be “pleasing to the eye.” Oh yes, it must be comfortable too. Safe to say we all own one pair of shoes that isn’t comfortable. We know if that discomfort persists we just buy another brand next time.
The modern figure skating boot comes in many brands. It’s simply a matter of what works best for the skater. A skater, especially one that is beginning multi-revolution jumps, should have the opportunity to try several brands to see what works best for him or her.
The vast majority of skaters I know pay critical attention to what they wear and are nearly obsessed with how the boot feels on them. And it’s a good thing they do feel this way, as skating is all about feeling the ice.
Speaking about feeling the ice, my congratulations to Rudy Galindo for his return to the ice on the Today show after having double hip replacements. Galindo has always been a fighter in everything, but delivering a triple toe loop on that small an ice surface after such an ordeal is nothing less than a 6.0 for endurance.
In closing, I pay tribute to the most recent inductees into the World Figure Skating Hall of Fame: Midori Ito, Jutta Mueller and Toller Cranston. No three people more define innovation and pursuit of excellent – and each did it in a different way.
At its best, that’s what skating is all about.
Copyright Ashton International Media, Inc. May/Jun 2004
Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning Company. All rights Reserved.