December 22, 2015

Artistic skating gives you everything

In case someone has missed out and still don't know... I'm obsessed with artistic skating, also known as figure skating, both on ice and on wheels (roller skating), partly because I used to roller skate, and compete. I've been willing to write about it for a long time, but I did not know where to start. It is kind of overwhelming. So, I am thinking I'll write about technicalities and the sport in itself further on... but, right now, I just want to explore the art within the sport.

“Chase Your Dreams” from Nikki Smith.
All Rights Reserved. Fine print arts available here.

For those who still don't know, skaters have to present a routine or a program packed with technical elements (basically jumps and spins), but also with a choreography, all of it accompanied by music. This does not necessarily always result in something beautiful or understandable, a lot of times is spectacular, but not delightful. 

So it is not often that you come across sublime pieces of art. That is when the skaters are trying to make you understand something, they get the music, they express what they feel about it and they let you in to their little world of wonder. I say little because it is short, it gets really short, it passes by too fast, and, then, you are left alone, in desperation, willing to go back to a moment that is forever lost. Okay, not forever, but it may not be or feel the same ever again. And this may be painful, and you may think that we are crazy to like something that can make you feel that way, but this is the beauty and the perfection of it. The spur of the moment, that feeling, and that kind of connection with the artists (and that you are also sharing with thousands of others figure skating followers, mainly japanese ^^).

As I was saying, it is not often that you find programs or skaters that are able to do that to you. And the funny thing is that everything is subjective, so what could be the best creation ever, from my point of view, can be the worst piece of shit for another viewer. That's what art is, right? Isn't this fun!?

"Pair Figure Skaters" of Rebekah Wilkinson.

Hoping you will understand and perceive the art I see within artistic skating, this is the reason why I say that figure or artistic skating gives you everything. Besides such artistry and expression, in a figure skating event you will also experience, for sure, intensity, excitement, fear, happiness, surprise, nervousness, and that your own life depends on that f***ing jump. Or spin, or step, or that the littlefinger is dancing correctly. Because, even though the reigning world champion is on the ice, you never know if he's going to crash or smash the hell out of the performance. Maybe it was a disaster, and you cry and feel sorry for the skater, or the opposite, and you cry and feel ecstatic because you have just had an orgasmic experience, probably shared with a few thousand people. So, like any other sport..., or so much better. ^^ You can like it or not, you can understand it or completely hate it, you can find it boring or just too much too handle. Either way, you can't ignore it. Personally, I think figure skating is spectacular and one of the few sports that will give you anything and everything you can ask for.

I'm writing this because, last week, we had the pleasure to have the Grand Prix Final 2015 in Barcelona, and I went to see it, from the beginning to the end. And I was lucky enough to see live three routines that made me cry and another one that I feel it is the most complete program I will ever see (and what figure skating should be all about). Furthermore, we had some on-ice funny moments, and all these memories made me go back and try to figure out "a list" of what I consider the best figure skating programs ever.

And here I am, trying to share some of the routines that have hit me hard in the past and willing to say, out loud, that I'm just in love with them. I'm going to start with the programs that I was lucky to witness last week in Barcelona, although not all of the videos are from that particular event.

This is the program from the first ever Spanish figure skater to be among the best of the world. As I mentioned before, I feel this is the most complete figure skating performance ever and what this sport should be all about. Within the most stunning and detailed choreography (does he ever stop moving his fingers, hands, arms, head, face and feet?) you have the most difficult jumps, step sequences and spins. And everything is served with intensity, a gentle smile, and a handsome expression. Do you need anything else at all? Read more about him.

This is an exhibition program, so it doesn’t even have all the technical elements required, so you could say it’s a “bleh” program. Were you not emotionally exhausted and heartbroken after watching it? There you have it, that’s what I mean. Read more about him and her.

These are the Shibutani brother and sister, Alex and Maia, respectively. To be honest, I never liked them before. They skated nice but they were not able to touch any chord in me. Until last week. I don’t know if it was because Alex was sick (really sick), or maybe because I was more sensitive somehow, or maybe because it’s a SPECTACULAR routine, really really really well synchronized with the music, but, hey, I cried again. There’s nothing to fix in here! Read more about him and her.

Yuko and Alexander have been one of my favorites for a long time. They are not the best with expression, they do not have the best choreography, and maybe they are not the best technically, but they get me every time. I always thought it is because of the way he treats her, so careful, so thoughtful, as if she were a porcelain doll (isn’t she?). And, then, this year, they chose the “I Finally Found Someone” song for their short program. I mean, why do you need us to die? ;) By the way, I love their free skate too. Even if it’s the same as last year’s. Read more about him and her.

And then you have “the man”. Okay, I’m going to tell the truth: I loved him on his first senior year (yes, with my favorite song of Romeo & Juliet, okay?!) but then… I lost him. I mean, I have eyes and I know he’s a natural on the ice, the best ever, he’s making history and all that! But… bleh. Anyways, as a rational human being, I can appreciate “objective” perfection. And this is it. He’s beating his own world record marks. He is, in the men category, what Queen Yu-Na (my goddess) was for the ladies’. And this is everything we can say besides “enjoy it while it lasts”. Read more about him.

And then, here you can find a playlist with some other programs from these recent years that I also find exquisite (includes the videos presented above):


And that's all I wanted to say. I wanted to emphasize the ART within figure skating. And I will talk about the "sport" another day. Am I crazy? I don't care.

;)

Nat