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Does Figure Skating Need More Cool?

Having secured my tickets for Worlds in Nice, France this year I’ve been watching the start of the Grand Prix with extra enthusiasm. It’ a treat to see what’s in store for the year to come. I enjoyed the return to classical music and quintessential, beautiful lines at Skate America and Skate Canada. But, as my husband watched with me he raised a valid question: why don’t skaters choose “cooler” programs?

What does he mean by cool? “Something a non skating fan would see and say, ‘wow, that’s really compelling and fun to watch,’” he said. As I listened to Spartacus, Theme on Paganini and various flamenco pieces over and over at Skate Canada I realized he is right. What about something modern, risky and truly unique? I asked my husband if he could think of a cool program that stands out in his mind. This was his pick. A Kurt Browning show program choreographed to Antares, an original piece of music written for Kurt by The Tragically Hip:

While I believe Lori Nichol and David Wilson (some of this season’s most prolific choreographers) are geniuses, I’d encourage them to look to what’s happened in modern dance over the last few decades for some inspiration. How can skating be beautiful, technically extreme but still relevant? It’s a big question worth asking.

My own thoughts on cool programs? Ashley Wagner’s portrayal Black Swan at Skate Canada showed some relevance while still scoring big on beauty and charm. For me, this 1994 performance by Kurt Browning is synonymous with cool:

Update: How could I have forgotten Virtue and Moir’s Pink Floyd program while writing this post!

What about you? What programs do you think bring the cool?

5 Responses to “Does Figure Skating Need More Cool?”

  1. Q Says:

    I’ve always enjoyed Oksana Baiul’s 1995 Sadeness routine. Except for her unfortunate hair, it was superb.

  2. Jeff Says:

    “Cool” is alright for the occasional novelty state, but classical music is just such the perfect match for most programs:

  3. Sarah Says:

    I think skaters should do programs that match their styles. So Ryan Bradley? Go for a “cool” program. But Jeremy Abbot? Stick with the classical stuff.

  4. Bercana Says:

    I think figure skating is ridiculously conservative. It’s also become a jumping competition. No originality. It would be refreshing to see skaters inspired by modern dance, jazz, hip hop… you name it. Why not? Saying that classical music is the only kind of music suited to skating is utterly insane.

  5. D. Says:

    Figure skating is completely irrelevant culturally and will continue to be so as long as it’s boxed in by rigid ISU rules and judging criteria and small-minded skaters and choreographers who can’t think beyond Carmen and skate skate jump… skate skate jump.

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