Mao Isobe explains why figure skating should be on your TV screens this Christmas
Figure skating, described by Urban Dictionary as “an extremely hard sport that only the smartest, prettiest, most gorgeous people can do. Boys who do it are gay”. Most people in Oxford, or even most people in Britain only know a few things related to this sport: Blades of Glory, Torvill and Dean’s Boléro and the Saturday night show, Dancing on Ice. But with the 2012-13 figure skating season well under way, perhaps now is the time to flick over to Eurosport and see for yourself the things this sport has to offer.
Figure skating is split into four main disciplines: men’s singles, ladies’ singles, pair skating and ice dancing. The first two are self-explanatory, whilst the main difference between the latter two is that pair skating involves elements such as throw jumps and seem- ingly gravity-defying lifts, whilst ice dancing focuses more on intricate footwork, close dance holds and is literally that – dancing on ice. The skaters perform various routines to pieces of music and their performances are graded on their technical and interpretation skills. But what is it about figure skating that makes it so good? Figure skating is one of the few sports that you can watch and enjoy without any knowledge of the rules. Music, dancing and sequinned outfits; and if that’s not quite exviting enough, there are enough jumps, lifts and inevitably, falls to make it worth your watch. And the definition in urban dictionary was right about one thing: perhaps the illusion of the outfit and the make-up, but skaters do seem some of the prettiest and most gorgeous people around.
The main problem with figure skating is that it is a seasonal sport; when something’s only shown on Eurosport or BBC Interactive, you know that the coverage isn’t quite on par with things such as football or cricket. As with most winter sports, the biggest event in their calendar is of course the Olympics. But you can get your figure skating fix (if such a thing exists amongst the sports readers of the OxStu), even with a while to go until Sochi 2014. This winter, starting from 5 December is the Grand Prix Final, the end-of-year championships where skaters from across the world have to qualify for. A great starting point for beginners to the sport as you can see all the best competitors of the moment in the same place. And as for next year, watch out for the European Championships in January and the
World Championships in March. So this winter, before you dust off your skating shoes and get into the Christmas spirit, why not watch the pros first and learn from the best?