August 9, 2015 § Leave a comment
Maybe, just maybe. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
What would Brian Boitano do?
Wait, did I really just Uncle Ben myself?
November 28, 2013 § Leave a comment
The sport of figure skating does a terrible job at trying to expand its fan base. Before we try to fix that, let’s see why it’s hard for the average fan to be drawn into figure skating.
Jargon – Sports Vocabulary
- Basketball has free throws, two-point shots, and three-point shots. The sport has five positions: (1) point guard, (2) shooting guard, (3) small forward, (4) power forward, and (5) center.
- Baseball has runs or points. They successfully get those runs by taking a walk, hitting a single, double, triple or home run. There are 9 fielding positions where the players try to stop the opposition from scoring points in the game: (1) pitcher, (2) catcher, (3) first baseman, (4) second baseman, (5) third baseman, (6) shortstop, (7) left fielder, (8) center fielder, and (9) right fielder. An additional position, the designated hitter makes only offensive contributions for their team.
- Hockey? The bladed brethren of figure skaters score “goals”. They have six positions: center, left wing, right wing, left defenseman, right defenseman, goalkeeper.
What do figure skaters do, besides landing all 4.5 revolutions in a triple axel?
What, they do more than just triple axels?
Axels are just one of many jumps and many things skaters can and must do in competition:
Jumps like the salchow, the toe loop, the loop, the flip (no, not a somersault), the lutz, and the famed axel. Here’s a slow motion video of two skaters doing all single jumps.
Spins like the layback (where you lean back), the camel (one leg parallel to the ice, one perpendicular), and the sit spin (where you sit). Competitions at the highest level also require skaters to be able to spin in the same direction on EITHER foot, doing back spin variations of the layback, camel, and sit. Here is a video of a girl who spins counter-clockwise on her left side, changing the feet twice between the second and third variation of the spin and between the third and last variation.
As for footwork that doesn’t include any jumps or spins, it incorporates “moves in the field” instead. They incorporate things like 3 turns, bracket turns, choctaw turns, counter turns, crossovers, mohawk turns, rocker turns, and twizzles.
When everything from the jumps, spins and footwork are combined with difficult transitions, then what you have is an aesthetically-pleasing performance on par with a basketball player balletically taking it to the hoop, a baseball player patrolling the field on defense, and a hockey player controlling the puck and getting ready to score a goal.
Post-Michelle Kwan Era
When I mention some of the biggest names in sports like LeBron James, Mariano Rivera and Sidney Crosby, they elicit at the very least a “Hey! I’ve heard of that name before” response. To fans who have been following these athletes’ for the duration of their professional careers, there’s a fiery love/hate relationship with no room in between.
These elite athletes communicate through their skills, knowing whatever the opponent does, they cannot stop the elite athletes from dominating. It’s through those same skills that inspire fans around the world to see their athletes on and off their arenas. These elite athletes make it seem like anything is possible.
Who can do that as an American figure skater?
There’s been a noticeable power void that Michelle Kwan left when she finished her final international competition in 2005. The 9-time national champion, who couldn’t quite put it together at the Olympics still left a lasting impression on the imagination of every fan. With her successful triple jumps and gracefulness during her signature spiral sequence, Kwan led the way for the American ladies well into the 2000s.
The American team currently doesn’t have a female skater that can confidently dominate the rest of the field like Michelle Kwan once did but Ashley Wagner will certainly do her best. Lurking behind Wagner are Gracie Gold and Mirai Nagasu. On the men’s side, you have defending Olympic champion Evan Lysacek, though the world worries that he’ll return from injury at full strength to defend his title. If he cannot skate in the Olympics, the skaters who have looked good after this year’s international competitions are Jason Brown and Adam Rippon.
The skaters to also keep note of are Charlie White and Meryl Davis. Skating together since they were 10 years old, they are currently the top-ranked American ice dancers and 2nd ranked team in the world. If anyone is capable of setting the bar high for a discipline of figure skating, overcome their Canadian archnemeses Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, and dominate the rest of the field, it’ll be White and Davis. Keep an eye out for them in February.
For a sport where skaters train daily (sometimes fit in school between morning and afternoon workouts) and pick about 3-4 competitions to skate in, figure skating competitions happen fairly regularly. The season goes from September to March, from qualifiers to World Championships and the Olympics if it’s an Olympic year.
If you have made your country’s figure skating team, then your qualifiers will take you from Skate America in the US, Skate Canada in … Canada, and Cup of China in Beijing to the NHK Trophy in Tokyo, Trophee Eric Bompard in Paris, and Rostelecom Cup in Moscow. If you are relatively unknown in the US, then you go through regional qualifiers in the Pacific, Midwest or Eastern regionals, national semifinals, then have your breakout moment on the national stage.
Attending these competitions or watching them on TV isn’t as easy as catching Sunday Night Football on NBC or the NBA Finals on ABC. NBC covers some important figure skating competitions but if you don’t live in Europe and get the EuroSports Live channel, you must rely on an annual subscription to IceNetwork/MLB Advanced Media to keep updated with your favorite skaters.
However, if you don’t mind watching things after they happen, people post clips of skaters’ performances on YouTube so you don’t have to pay the 50 dollar fee for IceNetwork or much more to attend the competitions in person. It’s just a matter of checking to see if your favorite skater(s) participated in a competition or not.
It’s a steep learning curve for you and I in order to fully enjoy figure skating but I think we can make this work. We’ll collaborate with Kenny Loggins and navigate our way out of the danger zone. Hold my hand.
P.S.: What the hell is a triple flip?
December 25, 2012 § Leave a comment
Whether or not you celebrate Christmas or Boxing Day, most restaurants will probably be closed on 12/25.
However, I wish you the best of luck when holiday skating alone or with others. I wish you the best of luck in finding something to eat if you do eat out. I hope you’re busy handing out holiday gifts, not busy still shopping for them. I hope you’re helping those in times of need, although I hope your generosity shows up on more days than one. Whether or not you’re counting calories on a daily basis, say hello to the grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins and just tear the holiday food up.
New Year’s resolutions? You mean the ones you end up breaking and forgetting about sometime before the year ends? Congratulations to you if you don’t break your resolutions, but set some goals and set a deadline to meet those goals. Write them out and place them somewhere that you’ll see everyday so these goals become ingrained in your mind and your routine. Maybe it will spur you to follow through on your goals with a concerted effort, or maybe not.
Enjoy a fun, safe last week of 2012. It was unexpected as hell… but it’s here.
Enjoy the last bits of 2012 and ride the San Francisco MUNI cable car for free on 12/31 after 8:00 PM if you don’t have anything to do.
October 8, 2012 § Leave a comment
To most figure skating lifers, diehard enthusiasts and people who tune in once every four years, the name “Steve Sabol” does not ring a bell. Even if you don’t know him, you may have felt the impact he has had on the National Football League. Do you like watching football right now? Have you been a lifelong fan of the 49ers, since 2011? Do you reminisce over the times the 49ers knocked the Cowboys off their perch on their way to a fistful of Super Bowl rings and titles? You owe some of that to Steve Sabol. How different would the everyday perception of figure skating be if USFSA asked Steve Sabol to film figure skating?
Employing the “Voice of God” before people thought it was cool to use the “Voice of God” to narrate things and using state-of-the-art camera techniques that were innovative and mind-shattering at the time, Steve Sabol is the creative force behind the transformation of American football’s image.
He may not have been the founder and head of NFL films, formerly Blair Motion Pictures. That distinction goes to his father, Ed Sabol. NFL Films however would not have taken off without the younger Sabol’s artistic guidance. Steve was responsible for the innovative techniques commonly employed in the entertainment industry these days: mic-ing up the players, having a godly voice narrate things, employing things we take for granted now like classical music, artful composition, slow-motion, replay and symbolic imagery. Steve Sabol helped turn “Oh my God, this is some violent ****” to “Mother of God, this violent game is amazing!” He was the artistic vision behind making American football the most-watched sports of the four major professional sports in the United States.
How the F*** is This Relevant to Figure Skating?
Axel. Triple axel. Blades of Glory. Men in tights. Salchows. Judges. 6.0. IJS. Songs without lyrics.
Had Steve Sabol taken on capturing figure skating as a side project, I think it would have profound consequences. What would Steve Sabol do?
1) People would know a lot of the moves
I think everyone would have a solid appreciation for what skaters do if they knew what figure skaters were doing.
That’s fine if you teach this guy nothing because you’ll get what you have now: a dude who knows nothing about skating will ask you if you can do triple axels, even though he wouldn’t recognize him if Chaz Michael Michaels did it and slapped him in the face.
What would Steve Sabol do? Steve Sabol would highlight all the big jumps. Even though he probably wouldn’t go into all of the details, he’d at least upgrade America’s stream of consciousness from “Can you do triple axels?” to “Can you do triple salchows, toe loops and loops? At least a single? Are you single?” He’d highlight the spins, from camel to sit, to the Biellmann upright “oh, I just tore my hamstrings watching that” spin. He’d highlight spirals and musical suggestions. That song from Twilight? Debussy came up with it first. Rachmaninoff and Beethoven? Yeah, buddy.
2) Raw elements of figure skating
All the people who don’t skate sees of figure skating is the figure skating performance itself, idolizing Debi Thomas, Michelle Kwan, Jennifer Kirk, Evan Lysacek and Johnny Weir for their sparkly attire and artistic routines.
The 2 minutes and 50 second short program. The 4 minute long program. You see the finished product, even if it does have a few wobbles and falls, flat-footed landings and traveling spins. You don’t see much of the before and you only see and hear a sliver of the after. You don’t hear the criticism, constructive or not given by the coach to the skater or the encouragement. You don’t see the financial tightrope that parents walk in order to fund their little princes’ and princesses’ dreams.
What would Steve Sabol do? Steve Sabol would mic up coaches and skaters and possibly judges. The person watching on TV and not freezing at the ice rink will see how crazy the commitment to the preparation of a superstar skater is. The emotional, social and financial sacrifices made to make the figure skating dream, the next Michelle Kwan dream come alive.
Would this glimpse of personal moments scare a lot of people off because it reaffirms that figure skating is a cost-prohibitive sport? Sure. But there’d be respect shown towards the amount of pressure these male and female skaters go through from a young age to the age of champions. I want to feel the nervousness a skater goes through right before they go to be judged on the ice and do what they’ve practice hundreds of times at home. I want to feel the nervous anticipation, the mutterings of “F***, F***, F***, F***, S***” under their breath right before the jump attempt. I want to feel the “I’m going to wish you good luck but I hope you fall” vibe when rivals cross paths on camera.
I want Steve Sabol to play classical music so that over time, the tension and anticipation building up in a scene of a coach encouraging their young skating pupil gets better and better to watch and understand. The glimpse of the personal nature between parents and coaches, coaches and students, and parents and kids would educate the viewers, possibly garnering their respect as well. Maybe it will even convince some into considering taking up figure skate.
Or maybe not. But Steve Sabol had a revolutionary impact on the game of American football and I believe it would have done the same with figure skating. He would have help usher in much needed respect and support for American figure skating and figure skating in general.
But darn it. On the bright side, 2014 is coming up fast. That crest in the cycle of respect for figure skaters is almost here, just being patted down by the TSA at the airport. It will be here soon.
Steve, this is a really convoluted and circuitous post. You are awesome for making football the bee’s knees. Rest in peace. 😥
August 14, 2012 § Leave a comment
Figure skating food on a budget.
When I was a little girl, my dad would share stories of the yogurt his grandmother made in a jar without modern simplicities. Yogurt is still a refrigerator staple for my father, but the cost of buying it can quickly eat away at the thrifty shopper’s wallet. Making yogurt is not only a fraction of the cost, but is one of the few old traditions that can be made simple.
What is needed?
- Yogurt or freeze dried yogurt starter
- Candy thermometer
- Containers or jars
- Powdered milk (optional)
Heat the Milk
Heat the milk to 185ºF (85ºC). Stir frequently to prevent the milk from scorching on the bottom of pot. As the milk cools, powdered milk may be added (optional). The addition of powdered milk will create a richer, thicker yogurt.
Add Yogurt Starter
Add the yogurt starter to the cooled…
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August 1, 2012 § Leave a comment
What do I want to achieve in figure skating and attending law school by the time I am enrolled in a J.D. program in two years? I want to:
- Test through juvenile moves in the field and juvenile freeskate and skate up to intermediate, the lowest USFSA level that has both a freeskate and short program. LOLflyingspins, LOLmovesinthefield, LOLaxels, LOL@me in case I get audited by the UCs again (“First, he claimed he was VP of the AP Spanish club and now, he’s claiming he figure skates… Jeez”).
- Skate a darn good freeskate and short program that looks good in a qualifying college competition and/or Intercollegiate Nationals.
- ^ do that and overcome the Negative Nancies, the Debbie Downers and other naysayers. ^
- Look! A wild Letter(s) of Recommendation appeared.
- Achieve a high LSAT score, write darn good personal statements and get into the best law schools I can get into.
- Educate and be educated on the finer points of figure skating and getting into law school.
What are the goals for this blog? I want to:
- Increase the amount of information out there on figure skating and law schools in case you don’t want to wade through the admissions literature or the 2012-2013 USFSA rulebook.
- Learn more about figure skating and law schools and dispel some myths along the way.
- Get people interested in figure skating, whether it means skating with people on the ice or getting excited for the 2014 Winter Olympics.
- Be really obnoxious about how much I enjoy the San Francisco Giants (is it working?).
This is probably going to keep getting updated, to the point where thefigureskatinglawyer becomes interested in too many topics. Welp, cheerio. Happy First of August and Pay Rent day!
August 1, 2012 § Leave a comment
I’m laughing at how hard it is to Boalt towards greener pastures. I might also be laughing at my inability to navigate and edit my own blog. Then again, it costs 30 dollars to make basic edits so… learn how navigate through my own blog, it is! Blah, image quality.
I’m ways away from making an actual post that imparts more wisdom than introductory hello’s and howdoyoudo’s. I don’t really know what shape this blog and my writing style will take, whether this will be a series of formal interviews with law school administration and figure skaters intertwined with complaints about the San Francisco Giants or endless rants about things you should know before figure skating arrives in Sochi, Russia in 2014. However, I think there’s potential for awesome things to happen. Yeah, buddy.
Shower this post or my facebook with feedback or wholesale skepticism about whether I was a figure skater. This blog needs it.