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Jul 17, 2015

The Skin You're In

Some people hate over-the-boot covers, others shudder at the thought of sequins. For me, the #1 figure skating sartorial sin is mismatched illusion mesh.

Ah, illusion mesh, that gallant protector of many a skater's modesty. For those uninitiated to the ways of skating's sartorial mores, illusion mesh is the flesh-colored fabric meant to provide an approximation of bare skin without actually baring such skin. Despite the official ISU rules stating that on-ice costumes "must not give the effect of excessive nudity for athletic sport," illusion mesh is a popular means to provide that very effect. Indeed, illusion mesh is often necessary to hold a skimpy costume together (yes, Elena Grushina is wearing more illusion mesh than actual non-illusion mesh fabric):

Jul 4, 2015

Happy America Day!

Happy 4th of July! FUCK YEAH AMERICA!!

In honor of this most American of holidays, we will celebrate that fine specimen of figure skating: the American ladies skater.

For decades, the US of A dominated the topmost echelons of ladies figure skating. American ladies world and Olympic champions were a dime a dozen, and even when the American ladies skated abysmally, at least one of them was sure to remain on the international podiums. This impressive streak of success in American ladies skating is reflected by the intense, near-myopic focus on ladies skating in the American collective consciousness. Sure, Evan Lysacek and Davis/White could win Olympic and World titles, but their faces would never be immortalized on a Campbell's soup can or a Wheaties box. No, of course not--that honor is strictly reserved for a champion American ladies skater, the only type of figure skater that really matters to many an average Jim-Bob.

But the times we live in are dark and full of terror, as the World and Olympic podiums have been conspicuously absent of American ladies for almost an entire decade. The times have been so dark and desperate to the extent that even a Canadian lady has been able to get onto a World and Olympic podium in the vacuum created by the most recent generation of bumbling American ladies. The horror, the horror! To help assuage the painful memories of such dark and terrible times, let's use this occasion to celebrate the beauty, grace, and skill of past American ladies skaters:

Jul 1, 2015

Happy Canada Day!

Happy Canada Day!

For those of the non-Canadian persuasion, Canada Day is the day when Canadians ride their pet polar bear and/or moose to the local curling rink, where they gather together to eat poutine and drink from bags of milk. On this auspicious holiday, Canadians are often found garbing themselves in maple leaves (in contrast to their usual flannel lumberjack attire) and being proud of the fact that they are not American. If you find yourself talking to a Canadian today, you can endear yourself to them forever by congratulating them for having a universal healthcare system or gun control. Alternatively, you can delight a Canadian by merely acknowledging the simple fact that Canada exists, and that you are aware of a national holiday at the beginning of July that is not on the 4th of July.

Though ice hockey holds the lion's share of the collective Canadian consciousness with regards to athletic endeavors, Canadians nonetheless have had an illustrious record of success in the sport of figure skating. In lieu of eating poutine and garbing yourself in maple leaf paraphernalia, you may thus celebrate Canada Day in the comfort of your own home by watching the following assortment of memorable programs by Canadian skaters:

Jun 28, 2015

Adios Nonino

Saying that Ástor Piazzolla's Adios Nonino is your favorite tango composition is like saying that the Mona Lisa is your favorite painting, but Adios Nonino is indeed my favorite tango composition despite the fierce competition for that honor (for the record, however, the Mona Lisa is not my favorite painting).

Anyway, I adore Piazzolla, and can often be found listening to various iterations of Adios Nonino on repeat. If I were a competitive figure skater, I would definitely choose to skate to an Adios Nonino long program, perhaps even during an all-important Olympic year when the general public suddenly becomes aware of the existence of figure skating. Many figure skaters (or their choreographers) seem to have similar sentiments regarding Adios Nonino, as it is a relatively common choice for competitive figure skating programs. Without further ado, let's scrutinize a (somewhat random) list of Adios Nonino programs below:

Jun 1, 2015

Judge Bait

Earlier this year, Eddie Redmayne won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his role as Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything. At the time, my roommate passionately decried the Academy's decision to reward Mr. Redmayne the Best Actor award, calling the whole affair yet another example of the Academy's collective shortsightedness in awarding Oscar bait. Oscar bait, otherwise known as the pejorative term denouncing a film that appears to have been carefully calibrated with the sole intention of winning awards, particularly that golden Art Deco statuette awarded by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. To put it simply, critics of Oscar bait denounce films of that bent as products of pure naked pandering as opposed to true originality or creativity.

As a pretentious snob, I am practically contractually obliged to hate Oscar bait and their ilk. Therein lies the evils that gave rise to mediocrities such as Crash (ugh!!) and Shakespeare in Love (double ugh!!), both of which happen to be Best Picture winners at the Academy Awards in their respective years. And yet, and yet--there are some examples of Oscar baiting films/performances that I loved, or at the very least was impressed by. Charlize Theron was astonishing in Monster, for instance, and I found Schindler's List incredibly affecting (its sequels Schindler's Fist and Schindler's Pissed less so, however). Is Oscar bait inherently bad? Can pandering rise up above its desperation?

All this talk about Oscar bait (yeah, this is an old post) reminds me of one figure skating program this season that has been repeatedly been fingered as a program that has been specially conceived and choreographed to win titles this season, especially the World title: Weaver/Poje's Four Seasons. On its face, it really does seem like Weaver/Poje's Four Seasons has been calibrated to strike directly at the hearts of figure skating judges with its classical warhorse of a musical choice, relatively conventional choreography, among other factors.