November 6, 2012 § 2 Comments
As a male figure skater who has competed with a collegiate team, you quickly come upon consequences of gender differences between you, the skaters on your team and skaters you compete with. Source: I am a male figure skater.
Just to get it out there, male figure skaters are equipped with rudimentary mammary glands, nipples and a different set of reproductive organs. Duh, and/or hello.
Most figure skaters previously have never had to change in front of other males. Over the course of their figure skating career, they have the luxury of a single-gender locker room to take instagram photos with their teammates and their longtime rivals, look at the event groupings, do flexibility stretches, put on bottles of hairspray and finally, put on rhinestone-studded figure skating dresses. Mind you, there are bathroom stalls where one could do such wardrobe procedures in bathroom stalls but you can’t fit too many team members in a stall. Plus, #toilets, #fluorescentlighting and #stalls aren’t that flattering in an instagram photo.
USFSA and the competition chairs go the extra mile in case they receive entries from teams with male figure skaters. They usually do. They’ll provide male figure skaters with the opportunity to change in their own locker room, away from the other locker rooms that are assigned to teams in general. If the competition chairs and the host arena cannot afford to give such an opportunity, well, guys have to change with girls in the locker room. Slap on those slacks, competition top (jersey, diamond-studded shirt, short-sleeve thermal, etc.), ankle bunga pads to prevent chafing and finally your skates. When the ladies have to change, some will change in the stalls and save the instagram/mirror pictures for later while there are others who will have this exchange with you.
Teammate: “Hey, I’m going to change into my figure skating dress. Could you go out of the locker room for a moment?”
Depending on the tactfulness used in the conversation, it can be quick and painless. Other times, the exchange gives off a “Get the fuck out of my locker room because your testosterone is really adding to the tension and ruining my prep” kind of vibe. Really depends. God forbid you leave something in there and remember ten minutes later and walk in just when your teammate starts changing. Awkward.
Gosh, that was a really long gender set-up for the next thing. Rule 4033 under the 2012-2013 USFSA handbook states that ladies can wear skirts, trousers and tights. You know, anything that leaves a visible outline of the pelvic orifice on the outside of the tights is covered by the skirts so female skaters are in the clear.
Well, that same rule 4033 clears up a common misconception. “Men must wear trousers; no tights for men are permitted.” Wait, wtf? But what about the stereotype that men who figure skate can wear tights?
That’s right. The higher ups of USFSA believe there are some packages mailmen should not deliver. Male figure skaters simply have no clothing accessory (skirt, a really frilly shirt, garish color scheme on the pants, etc.) to shield everyone’s eyes from their crotch creating a bulge in the tights. That’s just a topic parents aren’t ready to discuss with parents just yet. Really, this is just speculation at most and like the music with insinuating lyrics and swear words but it may be up to the competition referee’s discretion to determine if the skater can compete in his current outfit. That said, it may be up to the competition judges to determine how egregious your costume violation it is and dock your points accordingly, no matter how stunning your performance was. (Can a skater even get a negative cumulative score? Is that even possible?)
The “Sanctity of Figure Skating” posts generally address music and this was only about costume. I will leave the reader with a song that may or may not summarize the constant self-comparisons in the sport, from wishing I had those skates and blades, that dress, that body, that triple axel and those moves to wishing I was a little bit taller.
P.S.: Rule 4034 is a really innocuous rule. It’s not like there’s a rule 4034 of the internet out there… is there?
October 5, 2012 § Leave a comment
I take the October edition of the LSAT tomorrow but I can’t help but think, “wwhd… on ice?” What would Harvey Specter do on ice, assuming that he knows how to figure skate really well? Asking the question presumes Gabriel Macht’s character would dress up in a suit and … skate so hard that Tonya Harding has to find him.
In a rhinestone-free, tights-free custom-tailored suit (which is probably less garish compared to the price tag), bowtie and custom-made Harlicks and fancy on fancy on extra fancy Ultima blades, Harvey would make a mockery of what was required in his skate. By that, I mean he will do a ton of axels, axel combos, backflips with a subsequent axel, all flying spins with change of foot and awesome serpentine step sequences. Then get off the ice, ask his bro Mike Ross and honorabro Donna Paulsen about who is the man and answer their questions about how they never knew he figure skated. Finally, they agree to break out the can opener to celebrate and the scene cuts out before you find out what they actually do with the can opener.
What song would Harvey skate to? Well, I’d say he skate to Ima Robot’s “Greenback Boogie” but USFSA and the judges will not have it. First, it has lyrics. Figure skating cardinal sin. Second, it drops f-bombs. Another figure skating cardinal sin. We can’t raise the younger generation to be responsible adults if they are running around the ice rink dropping f-bombs, doing Harvey-like things and boogie oogie oogie-ing on and off the ice. Their virgin ears. Their virgin minds. Nope, not a chance.
Worst case scenario, the judges justify the disqualification of Harvey Specter until they figure out who they are dealing with so they don’t get served in the future. Best case scenario, just a deduction for the music violation, in which Harvey argues about that too to have that overturned. The judges may as well not worry about the music and enjoy the performance.
Probably the only setback if there was an alternate universe in which Harvey Specter knew how to figure skate is that as soon as he makes it back to the office on the next day, you can expect some homoerotic tension between him and Louis Litt. Ballet on ice, figure skating, another area in which Harvey has Louis all Litt up.
In jest and all seriousness,
August 29, 2012 § Leave a comment
A friend on facebook noted that during the 2012 Summer Olympics, it was weird how music was being played during the floor exercise and beam events in women’s gymnastics. Out of all nits to pick, this is crazy, so it might be helpful for some context, maybe. Why would it be necessary to play music when it’s silent during men’s events? Big news syndicates or by any influential person on Twitter did not seem to pick up on this topic, preferring to talk more about cheap shots to Carmelo Anthony’s groin, Hope Solo’s disdain of Brandi Chastain and Bob Costas.
Music in figure skating, on the other hand is instrumental to a skater’s competitive performance. Its tempo and dynamics fit the skater in terms of their musical tastes and their skating personality. There are skaters who display a graceful elegance or a powerful, technical edge when they are on the ice. Unless you’re Brian Boitano, then you can have both.
But why do you hear Carmen, Rachmaninoff, Fiddler on the Roof, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony rather than Phil Tong’s cleaned up version of Cazzette’s “Kanye’s in Paris” remix, a Skrillex instrumental or Monday Night Football?
1. Because classical music is tight, yo.
You’re right, Kanye. French fries are the devil. But all joking aside, here are my speculative reasons why figure skating music is… what it is.
1. Rules on lyrics or no lyrics
That’s a stupid distinction that seems obvious but there’s little literature beyond what is and what is not allowed by the USFSA rules and the judges that enforce them.
Under Technical Requirements for Singles on page 188 in the 2012-13 edition USFSA rulebook states:
For skaters at the levels preliminary on up to intermediate, they can do whatever they want with the music as long as they follow the time limits according to their levels. They’re feeling Monday Night Football on Super Bowl Sunday? Rock on. They’re feeling dubstep? As long as you don’t slump your shoulders or drop the quality of your performance, drop the base and the smackdown on the competition.
For high levels of competition and in competitions such as Four Continents, World Championships, Nationals and the Olympics, Rule 4040A does not allow skaters qualifying for national competitions in novice and up to skate to songs with lyrics, unless they are skating the short program. It does not make the distinction of whether the judges penalize the skater for their music violation or disqualify them outright, but you figure that is all up to the judges. Besides, even if the skater is not disqualified, they would not want to start off their competition with a significant deduction in their points total. Those points matter when you are trying to hold off other competitors for that gold medal.
I personally don’t see any reason why not to skate to music with lyrics, unless “It’s tradition and that’s the way we have always done it” is considered a reason.
2. Derogatory language in music
Skating is a family sport. Established skaters in their dresses and shirts littered with rhinestones are jumping, spinning and step sequencing role models to young children (Rule 4033 makes it illegal for male skaters to wear tights). While Carmen, Rachmaninoff and Beethoven are acceptable musical vehicles to great skating performances, it’s hard to convince the powerful members of USFSA that “Kanye’s in Paris,” even when censored for most of the derogatory language is appropriate for skating. It’s probably even harder to convince that a skater is taking the sport seriously, lacking the respect for what USFSA stands for. Not sure how they would even feel about the message “Somebody That I Used to Know” sends, even if the skater’s performance articulated damn well how their significant other treated them.
3. A pattern of success has not been established with MNF or EDM
John Madden, Hall of Fame coach and broadcaster. Pat Summerall, Hall of Fame broadcaster. Skrillex, making hundreds of thousands of dollars for doing crazy things with music. They are successful people. However, Monday Night Football and a remix of Benny Benassi’s “Cinema” within the context of competitive figure skating means nothing. No one of particular significance has skated to either one of the tunes and made people go, “Holy crap, I didn’t realize you could actually skate to those songs.” But until that actually happens, you’re skating on thin ice with such unorthodox music.
Unless you are a diehard figure skating fan, you would not have immediately noticed that Michelle Kwan’s short programs were choreographed to music composed by Rachmaninoff and Shchedrin. But because there have been examples of skaters having great performances to classical music and songs from musicals and movies, it’s the acceptable norm to choose to skate to songs that parents of figure skaters have heard over and over.
But who is to say that someone cannot have a great performance skating to a Kanye medley or a Swedish House Mafia instrumental? How dare I skate to heathen music and do ridiculous things at the ice rink?
I think change is possible. People can translate their love for football into a skating performance with “Monday Night Football” blaring from the loudspeakers. Just make sure your coach agrees with your musical selection.