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  1. #1
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    Watching Skating Live

    The only skating that I've seen live has been relatively low level practices and test events, but even then I don't think you really appreciate skating or what separates a good skater from a great skater until you can see them skate live and compare speed, edges, ease of movement, flow, control, power etc. I'd love to see an ISU skating event, but since I don't see that happening anytime soon, I'd like to live vicariously through my fellow FSUers.

    For those who have seen elite skating live, are there any skaters you learned appreciate more after seeing them live?
    What are some of the most memorable performances (for you) that you've seen?

  2. #2

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    I have only been to one World Championship back in 98 but the best thing for myself was going to the practises. You get to see skaters do things they normally wouldn't do in their programs. Such as seeing Emmanuel Sandhu doing the most amazing spirals which he just never did in competition programs.

    I did see Kwan do her SP that year which was amazing.
    When you are up to your arse in alligators it is difficult to remember you were only meant to be draining the swamp.

  3. #3

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    Patrick Chan.......amazing skating skills, and so fast. It's very obvious watching live. He skates very big.
    Addicted to FSU

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    I remember reading, probably on FSU, how impressive Chan's skating is in person.

  5. #5

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    The first elite events I attended live were 1994 US Nationals and Olympics. The thing that especially struck me was speed (and ice coverage/command of the ice). Also general level of athleticism, energy, jump size, etc., are also clearer live.

    E.g., after the middle group of men at Nationals, Rudy Galindo was in the lead having skated a superficially clean program with at least one triple axel (I think there were some touchdowns, but I couldn't see them from my cheap seat and probably didn't have the knowledge at the time to look for them anyway). Nice artistry, good spins. So I was wondering whether that performance could be good enough for a medal. Then the final group came out for their warmup and I knew right away it wouldn't be.

    Similarly, in the free dance at the Olympics I thought Torvill & Dean had done enough to win since they were faster than Usova & Zhulin. "Just show me something that can beat that," I thought to myself. Then Grishuk & Platov came out and filled the ice even better. "OK," I thought, "you showed me."

    I wouldn't have had the same thoughts watching on TV.

    Since then I've learned to look at more details, including some that show up better in video closeups than live (especially sitting further from the ice). Speed isn't everything. But it does separate skaters who are working at a top athletic level that fills the space, making the ice surface look small, from those who are working on a smaller canvas, so to speak.

    The effortlessness of the speed is another thing that's more obvious live, including how quiet the blades are. I described some of the most impressive skaters as having a lightness over the ice that I described as the ice melting away beneath their blades.

    Since my first introduction to Irina Slutskaya was live at Skate America before I ever saw her on TV, I always thought of her as a kid with a lot of "zing" to her stroking, which looked less effortless on TV because of her posture issues.

    I haven't been to as many elite live competitions lately, so most of my opinions of current competitors are based on interpreting what I see on video in relation to what I now know more of about experiencing skating live, rather than direct live experience of these competitors. So on those points, I'll defer to knowledgeable people who were there to see the event live.

  6. #6

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    Many skaters are much faster and more precise "live" than they appear on TV.

  7. #7
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    gkelly, what an amazing experience to see the free dance portion in Lillehammer.

  8. #8
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    I've managed to get to two Skate Americas (including the most recent one) and one thing that always strikes me is that skaters never seem to skate small or to be swallowed up by the ice, no matter how "weak" they might be as an individual or team. Unless, of course, they're having a terrible time. Then you really notice how empty a program can seem. Alena Leonova was almost sad to watch this weekend.

    On television I noticed that a few of the Yankee Polkas looked a lot smaller than they did in reality. And as we all know, skaters look faster and sharper when they're right in front of you. I also find that it's a lot easier to get emotionally invested in everyone's programs, and you want all competitors to do well, almost no matter what.

    And, of course, costume sparkle and music is always better live.

  9. #9

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    I've only had the opportunity to see some British national championships and then finally saw Europeans 2012 in Sheffield.

    I agree with what everyone else has said - the speed and ice coverage are things that you never catch on TV. Also some skaters that put certain elements (like a lot of their jumps) in the same place, you can never really tell due to the change camera angles on TV so you get a better sense of the layout of a programme and things like change of directions, whether the skater always goes round the rink in one direction etc.

    Personally I have never been a fan Pluschenko (bordering on being a hater!) and yet seeing him in practices and then in the competition completely won me over. The power, the speed, the command of the ice, his general presence really blew me away. I re-watched the performance on TV after seeing it live and saw that on TV it was same-old same-old, for me which says that you just have to watch him live to get it (for me at least!).

    Unless you have very good seats, things like facial expressions which some people constantly harp on about, are completely irrelevant as you cannot make the skater's face out very well, so expressive body and converying feelings and hitting shapes with your body far outweigh facial expressions when watching live.

    In pairs at Europeans V&T were simply in class of their own when they skated - they made the rink feel small - the effortless speed and flow, it felt like they were being contained by the sides of the rink unlike many other skaters who almost struggled to fill the rink.

    Quote Originally Posted by gkelly View Post
    The effortlessness of the speed is another thing that's more obvious live, including how quiet the blades are. I described some of the most impressive skaters as having a lightness over the ice that I described as the ice melting away beneath their blades.
    This is question I have had for some time and it's about people describing "quiet blades". I have often wondered why the best skaters are described as having quiet blades because, e.g. at Europeans at practices a lot of the best skaters, particularly the fast ones did not have quiet blades - they had that ripping or growling noise that comes from getting a lot of power from a deep edge. The lesser skaters would sometimes get the scrape of a toe pick (sometimes even using it on purpose to slow down before a jump or element), but the middle of range ones had quiet blades, as in, they were good enough to keep off their toe picks, but not quite good enough to get that growl from powerful blades.

  10. #10
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    I remember having been impressed by Evgeny Plushenko in Bercy in 2006 (IIRC). And I'm really not a fan...

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    I have certainly heard that he has that power. It's quite special. I can feel it through the computer screen; live, he must be something else.

    I know someone who went to Brisbane for the JGP and came back raving about Jason Brown. Said she wasn't sure when she first saw him, didn't like the ponytail (!!!), but as soon as he started skating, he just blew everyone away.

    Alas, as an Australian, my "live skating" experiences are limited to watching local competitions. I'm always struck by how FAST the upper levels are! The Senior girl at my rink can get from one end of the rink to the other in no time flat with seemingly no effort.

  12. #12

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    There's honestly nothing like it.

    If one is truly a figure skating fan then you must see skating live at least once in your lifetime.

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