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Boot and Blade

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Get the Skating Bug

At the Four Continents Championship in Vancouver last month I saw the ‘Skate Bug’ for the first time. It’s a radio device that connects listeners with live event commentary. One part fits in your ear; the other part is hand held. With the Skate Bug, listeners can get real-time event commentary–even more detailed than those watching the event on TV at home–and can even ask questions about elements or scoring via text message during the event. The device is meant to make figure skating more understandable and fan friendly, according to this article in the Vancouver Sun.

The Skate Bug doesn’t appeal to me–I like my own commentary just fine–but it’s a big hit with newbie spectators. A friend told me she initially had to drag her father to the competition, but once he was plugged in to the Skate Bug he was drawn in to the drama of the competition. In a time of rebuilding for the sport I’m in full support of any tactic that turns spectators into true fans.

The Skate Bug cost $20 and can be used for future events, which is a pretty good investment for those trying to grok the sport’s complex scoring system.

Skate Bug history: An early version of the Skate Bug was deployed at the 2006 European Championships by 1994 Olympic bronze medalist Philippe Candeloro to provide commentary to a group of friends. An official version of the Skate Bug appeared at the 2007 Four Continents and again in Vancouver last month. No word yet on whether it will be offered at Olympic figure skating events next year.

One Response to “Get the Skating Bug”

  1. Real-time Tutorials for the Noob Skating Fan Says:

    [...] Julie wrote about the Skate Bug, a kind of auditory aid for getting from (to borrow Lee and Sachi’s metaphor again) A to G: [...]

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