View Full Version : Men's Health Answers Questions About Figure Skating

05-19-2010, 08:13 PM

I've never heard of this guy before; what about anyone here? I think it's a pretty good article, for laymen.


That said, Lucinda Ruh, often called the greatest spinner in the history of the sport, once told me that she routinely spun so fast--a physicist once calculated that the G force to her brain was akin to a fighter pilot--that she suffered mini concussions and had lingering effects, including vertigo and severe headaches.

5. What's up with costumes? Don't they realize how goofy they look?
Apparently not. During the men's short program, there was former world champion Stephane Lambiel, one of the sport's truly great skaters, dressed in a Seinfeldian puffy-shirt, complete with Jiffy Pop shoulders. To one writer from the Christian Science Monitor, Lambiel looked "patently ridiculous, as though some local theater company would be coming by at any moment, searching for its lost Hamlet."

Kevin van de Perrin's "sparkly skeleton" lit up the blogosphere with Halloween snarks. Johnny Wier? A black corset with pink laces and a pink tassle. 'Nuff said. Even gold medalist Evan Lysacek, the great "I'm proof that not all figure skaters are gay" hope, wore black plumage on his hands during his short program.

So what gives? Every Olympic games, skaters, particularly male skaters, insist that they want to be taken seriously as athletes--and to be sure (again, speaking from experience), it would be hard to imagine better trained, better conditioned athletes in any Olympic event. And yet, there were Ukraine's Tatiana Volosozhar and Stanislav Morozov floating across the ice in metallic electric-blue body suits like a couple of deflated foil balloons.

My best guess: This is a blind spot for them. So when it comes to costumes, go ahead and sound like a figure-skating meathead. The skaters might not realize how ludicrous they look (though Johnny Weir does wear his flamboyance with a certain ironic flair), but the rest of us do. And it only makes the sport more fun to watch--and talk about.

05-19-2010, 08:22 PM
Never heard of the guy either, but I like the piece and I like that they're targeting it toward guys who probably have no experience or knowledge of skating.

Of course, I'm sure the description of Evan will cause a lot of :drama: . But the author didn't really put anyone down as far as I can see.

05-19-2010, 08:23 PM
Good descriptions of the different jumps I think.

05-19-2010, 08:32 PM
The writer is an adult skater. He wrote a really good article a while ago in the same magazine about how he got into the sport.

He won a bronze at US Adult Nationals in 2009.

That being said, as a professional writer he should have spelled Weir's last name correctly.....

purple skates
05-19-2010, 08:37 PM
He's an adult skater.


ETA: Oops. overedge beat me to it. :)

05-21-2010, 12:48 AM
I love this: "This is a blind spot for them." :rofl: :rofl:

A very nice way of putting it.

05-21-2010, 04:11 AM
He skates on the same sessions with me occasionally. Great guy.

05-21-2010, 05:22 AM
He skates on the same sessions with me occasionally. Great guy.

Wow, a professional sports writer, and an adult skater. You should interview him for one of your pod casts.

05-21-2010, 12:36 PM
Wow, a professional sports writer, and an adult skater. You should interview him for one of your pod casts.

This would be a great idea.

05-21-2010, 01:04 PM
nice article !

05-21-2010, 04:27 PM
Wow, a professional sports writer, and an adult skater. You should interview him for one of your pod casts.

Hmmm, hadn't thought of that . . . Thanks!

05-21-2010, 08:16 PM
Good feature and nice to see in an unexpected publication. I really enjoyed Mr. Smith’s description of spins and jumps, and especially his discussion of why skaters fall. It’s also great that Mr. Smith is an advocate for how figure skating helped him lose weight, stay in shape, and feel so great that he became increasingly enamored and enthusiastic. He has obviously taken the time to learn more about the sport and to share his knowledge (as a journalist and as an adult competitive skater). This is an excellent feature that helps promote the sport in a positive way to an audience that understands little or nothing about the sport. This type of promotion is something that USFS seems to never think about (unless of course, Smith was encouraged to write about the sport by someone in USFS – I’m thinking it was probably more Smith’s idea, and/or perhaps he was also encouraged to do so by his colleagues at Men’s Health).

The whole issue of sexuality (which Mr. Smith does not discuss, but refers to obliquely) should be a non-issue, but it won’t be anytime soon. There are lots of different kinds of people in figure skating, as there are in other sports. The reason why figure skating has been so stereotyped as being a “gay” sport would make an interesting history/ social science/ sports research project. I for one, recognize and appreciate the fact that Johnny Weir’s talent and presence in the sport has in many ways shed light on the sport’s hypocrisy in regard to the touchy, sensitive “Gays in figure skating?” issue, which again, IMO, should be a big non-issue. It has historically been an “issue” kept closeted in a career-threatening “don’t ask, don’t tell, and above all, don’t act effeminate” imperative. I love Johnny for his talent, and for his courage in trying to be himself with no explanations attached. BTW, it took cahones by Rudy Galindo to be out as a gay man, to put regrets and excuses behind him, to get in the best shape of his life, and to skate lights out in his hometown at 1996 Nationals. His huge win there remains one of the most exciting and memorable in the sport’s history (largely because of his spectacular 6.0-worthy performances, but also because he overcame the sport’s imperative). Yes, the favorite to win, Todd Eldredge, had an off-day, but kudos to Todd for being happy for Rudy, and for taking inspiration from Rudy's performance (Todd later won Worlds, with Rudy winning a Worlds bronze).

Mr. Smith seems to still be learning about the sport, just as we all are, I suppose. I find the reference to “goofy” costumes kind of silly the way he describes it, but I guess it’s a bit of light-hearted poking fun. Still this type of poking fun only adds to the stereotypical thinking about costumes in figure skating. I think Mr. Smith, and indeed many fans, non-fans, and people within the sport miss the point on the subject of costumes. Figure skating is sport and art, combining theater and sports arena, athleticism and artistry. There is no way to separate the sport from the art. The very word, “costume” means it’s different from regular sports attire. Johnny Weir has demonstrated the importance of costume, which is an integral part of his inspiration for expressing the theme of a program. I think Stephane Lambiel’s choice of Olympic sp costume had a great deal to do with his choreography and his choice of music – and it worked for me, except for the fact that Stephane’s confidence and performance level were not up to par. Obviously, there are different tastes and lots to talk about in regard to what skaters wear. But I think to just make fun of what skaters wear really misses the point. When talent, athleticism, technical skill, inspiration, energy, music, choreography, costume and performance on the ice meet at the highest level – that’s the pinnacle of figure skating, a high quite difficult to reach.