Thursday, February 18, 2010

Figure Skating – New Found Respect

By Rizwaan Zahid

Figure skating was never a sport I personally enjoyed. I’ll admit that I had not watched much of it even during past Olympic Games. However in Vancouver 2010 I have began to enjoy the sport, particularly in pairs, because it exhibits the traits that our more common sports have. Chemistry, dedication and above all pressure.

If there was ever a sport where chemistry counts, it’s figure skating. Not only do pairs depend on one another to perform well in their solo moves, they also depend on each other to land correctly and for the women, to be thrown, spun and pulled from all degrees and directions. Working in pairs is a funny thing in sports. Team sports with more players can get away from lack of chemistry on occasion and individual sports generally don’t need chemistry on the field or court. Figure skating chemistry works hand in hand with the passion that they display on ice. Without the almost teary eyes and long gazes, the sport simply would not be the same. Sure many of them are just good actors, but nevertheless the moves that go along with this chemistry between the partners really puts into perspective my new favourite phrase (from the Moosehead’s Cracked Canoe advertisement): Poetry in motion. Which is exactly what figure skating is.

The dedication it must take for a pair to perform in sync constantly is unbelievable. Not too mention staying on their feet with all the spins and perfecting their body to be flexible but also have the balance of conditioning and strength. Beyond the physical requirements, it is the dedication to be on the ice perfecting the craft. Canadian pair Jessica Dube and Bryce Davison were in competition at Colorado Springs when Davison accidentally cut Dube in the cheek with his skate during a side by side camel spin. Blood spurted all over the ice where Bryce looked stunned and in immediate worry about his partner. Not only did she recover, she was back on the ice in seven days with her partner, fixing their errors and creating new poetry. Being able to trust your partner after being cut within seven days… now that’s chemistry.

Pressure is the name of the game in all sports. Athletes have to compete at the highest level constantly and if an athlete fails to perform at the top of his or her game, that athlete is deemed a choker, or not clutch. Performing in front of thousands of people live, as well as the millions viewing around the world in the Olympics is the definition of clutch. These are not NBA or NHL athletes who are in the limelight each day and are thus more adjusted to the pressure that goes along with professional sports. Even those NHL players feel nervous playing at home. Imagine what it is like for not only a Canadian pair skating at home, but for all of the competitors, trying to win the gold for their country all while putting figure skating on the map.

Although I’m known for loving just about every sport, I do have my favourites. Boxing, basketball, football, soccer, hockey and the like…more traditional sports are the ones that catch my interest. However figure skating is making its way to that list now. No, it is not perfect, and actually far from it (at least wardrobe wise as we saw with Tatiana Volosozhar and Stanislav Morozov from Ukraine who displayed what a commentator called their avatar suits. Couldn’t have thought of a better name, except perhaps the Blue Man Group).

Figure skating however may however be the best sport you are not watching.

No comments: