Saturday, February 20, 2010

Men's figure skating has changed

We've been watching a lot of Olympics at our house lately, and I have a question: at what point did male figure skaters stop pretending not to be gay? Or at least effeminate? Back in the day, the men's programs were pretty butch, with a lot of butch skating around the ice, some butch jumps, and butch costumes consisting of, you know, a shirt and pants. Yes, it was still men skating around the ice, but they made it as masculine as possible. Now it's all jazz hands, soulful facial expressions, and unitard costumes with puff sleeves/see-through midriff area/pink lace-up corseting detail.

You know what, though? Even though I'm not sure what exactly is going on with this change, I enjoy men's figure skating more now. It's as if some barrier has been breached, and the men are finally able to really express themselves on the ice in a way that was not allowed before. A perfect example of the kind of change that is at work here is Yevgeniy Plushenko's short skate program. I loved it. I almost couldn't stop watching it. It was so heartfelt and so expressive, almost more so than a woman's program might have been because the men are more powerful skaters.

I would give you links to some of the pertinent videos, but I can't figure out how, which brings me to my next Olympic-related observation. NBCOlympics.com is designed in such a way that makes me think they want to prevent me from viewing competition videos at all costs. I understand that it's free, and offered as a convenience, but come on. If you're going to offer video, offer it in a straightforward manner. As it is, it's like one giant video dump where nothing is titled relevantly and you have to sift through several slow-loading, cluttered pages to get at what you want. And once you do find it, sometimes it's "premium" video that requires a paid TV cable subscription, which, I don't know why those people are watching it online in the first place, and in the second place, you don't even need a paid TV cable subscription to get NBC.

Also, as long as I'm making demands of a convenient service provided to me at no charge, I wish NBC could put up some kind of a spoiler-free page. I didn't get around to watching the men's free skate program until the day after it was finished, which meant that the results were splashed all over the site's home page. No matter; I just squinted my eyes so as not to see the headlines and navigated over to the athletes' pages to get at the videos of their performances. I was doing fine until I tried to find Evan Lysacek's video and no amount of eye-squinting could obscure the fact that it was titled, "Evan Lysacek Wins Gold." Doh!

Are you watching the Olympics? Also, as my gift to you, please enjoy this blog post on a similar subject from Wait Wait Don't Tell Me.

16 comments:

Liz Johnson said...

In the words of my husband, "Why is figure skating in the Olympics? We don't do ballroom dancing in the summer Olympics. This offends my soul."

Amanda said...

I've had the same feelings about the video page at NBC. Everything you said, even about the spoilers. Yesterday, I wanted to find some video of curling and I was greeted with the splashy headline of "BODE WINS SILVER." So much for waiting until primetime for that race.

Susanne said...

Yes, I'm watching and enjoying the Olympics. I wrote to my online friends (we go back about 7 years) about it just this morning though most of the post was about names. Well, maybe it just touched on them especially Tanith.

Sorry to those who like that name. This is just my opinion.


Tanith Belbin -- according to Wikipedia her name is Tanith Jessica Louise Belbin; I personally don't like the name Tanith, but here is what behindthename.com says about it

TANITH

Gender: Feminine

Usage: Near Eastern Mythology
Derived from Semitic roots meaning "serpent lady". This was the name of the Phoenician goddess of love, fertility, the moon and the stars.

Tanith sounds too King James Version to me. You know how the KJV says things like sinneth and this from John 10 by way of example:

1Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.

So I think tanith could belong to that era. For the verb tan as in I will tan today and the person who tanith is not wise for she shalt bring skin cancer upon her.

What do you think of the name Tanith? Had you analyzed it that much?


Glad you are enjoying the Games. Is ice skating your favorite? What did you think of the ice dancing last night?

JackJen said...

Bridget, I'm going to say this as politely as humanly possible:

I couldn't disagree with you more.

I'm with Chris on this one.

I CANNOT STAND FIGURE SKATING. I'm not sure WHY, I've never been able to figure it out. BUT. The truth of the matter is that figure skating (of all sorts--men's, women's, pairs, gorilla's), does NOTHING for me.

A lot of it has to do with the fact that I'm opposed to awarding sporting prizes based solely on a judge's score.

Perhaps if men's figure skating was less like women's figure skating, it would be more exciting. Why can't they throw down their best stuff one right after the other? If male figure skaters kept trying to up the ante with their tricks (a la the snow boarders in the half-pipe), maybe it would be more exciting to me.

Also, I'm with you on the spoilers page. I like to check in with MSNBC during the day, and haven't been able to, ever since I read the headline: LINDSAY VONN WINS GOLD.

Grace said...

I was also surprised by many of the flamboyant outfits some are wearing with all the sequins/glitter and peek-a-boo openings. And the gloves? What's with the gloves?

Suzanne Bubnash said...

We DVR the Olympics & then breeze through all the commercials & fluff. Except for last night we listened to Lysacek's interview & Dick Button's commentary. I was so impressed w/ Lysacek's sincere & cool demeanor in discussing his victory over Plushenko. Dick Button talked about 'what is a sport?' because some people don't think certain events should be in the Olympics. To me a reasonable definition would be 'a sport is an organized activity that makes you breathless.' So golfing doesn't count (& it's not in the Olympics). But skating does.

What I don't like about the skating is that 90% of the contenders look as if they're just marking a checklist of their required moves. There's just a few gifted enough to make you forget the requirements and actually do a routine that has grace and personality.

And one more thing--in downhill skiing I cringe when NBC bothers to show a no-name skier come down the mountain because you know he/she is going to wipe out. Otherwise they wouldn't waste precious airtime on them.

Bridget said...

Liz, if Chris is going to complain about frivolity in the Olympics he should start with something like rhythmic gymnastics. I know figure skating is probably on that list somewhere but it's not first or even second. Also, they SHOULD do ballroom in the Olympics!!!

Amanda, AMEN.

Susanne, I was thinking about Tanith just this morning. It's pretty enough but it sounds to me like the person saying it has a lisp and is trying to say "Tanis." (See also in that category: Alethea.) What do you think about the name Torah, especially for a nice Mormon girl?

Jen, oh JEN. I have loved figure skating since I was a little girl. So just as you can't explain why you hate it, I can't explain why I love it. But I do. Have you watched much of the men's figure skating? They are throwing down their tricks pretty much one after the other these days. It's way more exciting than it used to be. About the judge thing, I can see how you would have major damage with the old system, but this new one seems to be pretty defensible. There are actual criteria to be fulfilled and the judges are taught how to specifically reward that. So, I don't know. Doesn't snowboarding rely on judging?

Grace, what about FEATHERY gloves??

Mom, you should watch the daily crash highlights NBC has been putting on their Olympics site. I would tell you where they are but I've only ever been able to stumble upon them by accident.

Susanne said...

Bridget, thanks for letting me know about Torah being Mormon. I looked her up on Wikipedia and saw this:

Bright is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. "For me it's just a way of life – I don't drink, smoke, drink tea or coffee, or have sex before marriage. I've never drunk or smoked but I'll go out to dance and stay up late and then drive home at the end of the night."

I admire people who live out their faith and aren't ashamed to live this way in a world that often mocks people with such values.

I saw Torah at the medals ceremony last night, but didn't even make the connection about her name to the books of Moses. *rolling eyes at myself* I remember thinking it was different and kinda cool though.

Maybe Tanith would grow on me..sometimes I grow to like names I previously disliked. Actually I think I like it mildly better than I did when I wrote here earlier. :)

B-Rad said...

We are Olympic junkies. Come over when you get a chance and you can watch some of the events live on our tv.

JackJen said...

Yes, I also have issues with the snowboarding judging, as well. My idea about "upping the ante" every year came from an interview with Shaun White where he said that his 2006 gold medal run would have BARELY qualified him for the finals in 2010. I like the idea of that kind of evolution.

Until someone pushes it too much and cracks their head open. I'm opposed to that, too.

One thing I can appreciate is the COMBINATION of judging AND time scores (i.e. moguls). That seems like a nice contribution to me. =)

And I WILL say that I can appreciate the athleticism of figure skating. Anyone who can balance on skates AND lift/throw another person in the air HAS to be an athlete.

Liz Johnson said...

I saw this and thought of you. Enjoy.

Bridget said...

OH MY GOSH MY EYES ARE BURNING. Liz, thank you, NOT. I've been trying to get that song out of my head since 2002 when we saw some Russian street kids performing to it and I was almost successful, until today. Ew.

Liz Johnson said...

But I think it speaks to your point, right? :) I mean, there is no way that guy is even trying to be straight.

This makes me wonder if "Chippendales On Ice" will be making its debut shortly.

Bridget said...

You know, that video is especially horrifying because (until now) I thought Plushenko was one of the less egregious offenders. No more. You are right, this definitely proves my point.

Jen, I had another thought about "upping the ante" - at least for the men, a lot of them are trying (and a few are landing) quad jumps now. Does that count?

Rileigh said...

Ha! I think this hilarious and totally true. What was with all the glam-rock hair styles? I was not a fan of Even what's-his-names outfit and then I found out it was designed by Vera Wang. Who saw that coming?

Anonymous said...

Keep posting stuff like this i really like it

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