I have been been a pretty big figure skating fan since 87 or 88, with the first strong memory I have of watching being the 1988 Olympics in Calgary, where I was terribly disappointed to see Brian Orser lose to Brian Boitano. Since then, I have caught most of the big contest that we get on TV here; Europeans, Worlds and Olympics. The Men’s event has always been a favourite (nothing at all to do with the eye candy ... ;P), with brilliant Russian skaters such as Yagudin and Plushenko being my all-time favourites, but to begin with Pairs was my second favourite. Somewhere along the line, however, it changed to Ice Dancing, thanks to some Russian couples and the French Duchesnay siblings. Its another French couple that are my overall favourites, however, namely Anissina/Peizerat.
And what does this have to do with anything? Well, yesterday, Elio and I spent most of the day in Scandinavium, watching the Men’s Short program in the figure skating World Championships. Yes, Elio is now a fan too. He may not scream along with the girls, but just as he goes to the horse show with me every year, he watches most of the figure skating on TV with me too. Though he’s pickier about only watching the best and the ones that have caught his attention. Right now, we’re watching the Men’s Free program on TV (and the first Swedish contestant just did brilliantly again, yay!) and I am wishing I was back in Scandinavium, because I had such a fabulous time yesterday. When we arrived and I sat down to watch the first skater, it was such a thrill to finally see it live. It was almost a little surreal, and gave me a new perspective of the sport.
And yes, of course it is a sport. Probably one of the hardest out there. It may be judged in the end, but the combination if athletic and artistic ability needed is staggering.
I was also really happy to see that once again the audience in Scandinavium proved to be great. For the yearly horse show, we have the reputation of being the most enthusiastic audience around, and I think there must be some cross-over with figure skating, because goodness it got loud. Especially for the two Swedish skaters, of course, and for fan favourites such as Lambiel and Joubert, but pretty much everyone got a lot of applause and encouragement. Obviously, there were a lot of fans from all over the world there (a small herd of Japanese, for example), but Swedish girls are clearly very good at screaming and clapping. ;) The event has also been praised for being well-organized, and that’s always great to hear. Maybe we’ll get another stab at it sometime. I certainly hope so, because then I will get a lot more tickets.
If I hadn’t been a silly girl, we would probably have been there today instead, and perhaps Friday evening instead of during the day (for the Ice Dancing final) and maybe even for tomorrow’s Gala. We first heard about the Worlds coming to Gothenburg some years ago, and immediately decided to go. Then, when the first tickets came out, all they had were very pricey all-event tickets. A wee bit much. So, I waited, and waited, and waited for the singles. And when they finally were released, I missed the release day by a day. Argh. ;P Fortunately, when I called to get tickets, I was still able to get excellent seats on the third row for the Men’s Short.
Oddly enough, the people at the ticket office always assume the seats really low down are no good. When you ask for tickets, they start saying they have stuff on row 10 or 11. So, you ask if that’s the lowest down you can get, and then you find out that there’s seats on row 3. Oh well, good for us, because even on the short end of the arena we had an excellent view of the action. I wasn’t so lucky for the more high profile events, though, so in the end I decided to just get the one set. Still kicking myself about that, since the Original Dance was lots of fun this year. I guess I will be wise when we get it again ... in another 32 years or so. ;P
In any case, how did it go yesterday? Well, both Swedish performers skated very well. In fact, among the skaters we saw (5 groups out of 8, including the top 4 groups), very few major mistakes were made. Unfortunately, one of them was by one of the favourites, Brian Joubert, who fell on his easiest jump. It looked like he relaxed a little too much after handling the two more difficult one. Most other big names did quite well, though I hope there are some changes in the current standings by the end of the Free program because I very much want to see a European skater win. We need great Russians again, darnit (though French is okay, too ;).