August 30, 2010

Fountain of Youth

Months ago I saw Jo Anne Schneider Ferris's post about some believing figure skating being the fountain of youth. It makes sense, staying indoors in a cold rink, out of the sun, for years on end ... that definitely helps keep the skin perserved. Too bad there's the trade-off with taking in too many Zamboni fumes. Let's hope that one is more of a myth.

But the fountain of youth? After seeing an old skating friend on my summer vacation who I hadn't seen in over twenty years, I now believe it.

You know how we all say (and especially those of us in the ice show world), "Oh you look great. You haven't aged." What we really mean is "You look good, you haven't aged as much as my non-skating friends have."

But seeing this friend, who was an incredible showskater and now skating coach, I was thinking what I was saying. She hadn't changed, except that her arms were buff. Wow. Makes me wish I could get back into an ice rink and do some push-ups or something.

Problem is there aren't any ice rinks around and I'll be headed to the pool this afternoon. That's not helping. So for those of you coaches around, even though the job can make you feel like a mushroom sometimes (from the mouth of one coach I knew), remember, you'll be a youthful, good-looking mushroom.

August 26, 2010

Thank You

... fellow bloggers for all of the coverage on the Kim-Orser saga unfolding in front of us: Required Elements, lifeskate , State of the Skate,Axels, Loops, and Spins and even a bit of on-the-ice perspective from Tony Wheeler's Figure Skating Blog, and I'm sorry if I've left someone out.

I know some may want this to go away, but I want more info to spill out. Why in the world haven't David or Tracy spoken out on this? Tracy, weren't you at that meeting? David, you were the only coach who was listening to Yu-Na. Either one of you could put an end to this.

That's puzzling to me. Why their silence?

I don't know, but that means we get to keep speculating, so here goes ...

If you know me, you know I'm biased. I'm Team Brian, although I have no ill will toward Yu-Na Kim. I am sad this has turned bitter. All of the soap-opera aspects could stayed out of the public eye, because skaters and coaches change all the time.

I think Required Elements is doing a great job trying to get to the bottom of this. She posts in her part of her update today:

For Kim's part, there was an interview with one of her representatives before the latest Orser-oriented article. She stated:

A. We (Brian, Yuna's mom, and Yuna) have already known one and another why Yuna has parted with him. We don't feel any need to inform the reason to the outside. Yuna's mom, Yuna, and Brian, all the people, have well understood this reason.

Q. He feels Yuna also does not know why. Is that true?

A. That's only a matter of Brian's feeling. Yuna already knows the reason why this relationship has ended. We always asked Yuna first.

This is the smoking gun, to me. Those are my italics on the last sentence. Suddenly, the "we" in "we always asked Yuna first" takes Yuna out of the we. It sounds like a decision was made and then they went to Yu-Na to ask her. She can't be in on the decision if someone asked her.

I know that there could differing interpretations between the translation of two languages (I've had to deal with Babelfish spanish translating my daughter's school documents and sometimes it's a mess) but I think it's telling and it backs up what Brian said about Yuna not knowing at first.

That would explain why the backtrack of Yu-Na's tweet, makeing it look like Yu-Na was making decisions for herself. Puting DECIDED in all caps for emphasis. But accusing Brian of lying? I didn't like that. That's harsh and maybe that's why the tweet was quickly deleted.

Anyone else want to weigh in on this? Since I have only three followers, hey mom, what do you think?

Anyways, thanks again to the bloggers!

August 23, 2010

Not the only one

I loved the mug shot ... I think it shows he doesn't take himself too seriously. But what you may not know is Kurt Browning is not the only Canadian figure skater whose car has gone up in flames.

I remember a friend telling me about another skater, Ice Dance Champion from the 80s - Patick Mandley, who on a first date driver her around the city of Vancouver when the engine of his car, an old Soviet Lada, caught on fire.

I don't think the date was impressed. But I was always impressed that Patrick had a Lada. Quite hip don't you think?

So, Brian, if you're reading this, please have your car inspected soon.

August 19, 2010

They're Doing It Again

Way back in June, 2008, I railed on the theme parks for not showing their own ice shows in their advertisements. Whether it was in print or television ads, there was no skating to be seen.

Here's my short rant in short:

Calling the PR Department of

King's/SixFlag's/Busch'/sSeaWorld's/Knott's/GreatAmerica's Theme Park

Why is it that there is rarely any press/commercial screen time/endorsements of the ice shows inside your park? Are you hiding it?

When I skated for King's Dominion and Williamsburg Busch Gardens, both times the ice shows were the #1 live attraction. Now don't get me wrong, people, I know nothing beats the latest/tallest/fastest rollercoaster for these theme parks, but the ice shows were packing them in -- if nothing else, so people could sit down and cool off -- Virginia in August anyone?

When I was at Busch Gardens, the park orginally scheduled two shows daily. Then the wizards working the numbers and crowd control realized the park would make more money if they canceled the early show and made people who wanted to see the show (a.k.a. the groupies) wait until 9 pm, meaning they would have to eat at the park, rather than catch the early show and head to town for dinner afterward.

Can a rollercoaster do that? Do they have groupies?

Okay, yeah, they probably do.

So today I'm calling out Royal Caribbean Cruises for doing the same thing. Last night I caught a commercial (I'm excited that I now get some American tv stations in Panama) for the cruise ship that never showed one clip of skating. Not the show, not even a passenger on a public session.

I don't get it. Skating is the number one, most popular Winter Olympic sport, in part, because it's so well suited for television. Why? It's got beautiful costumes (usually) on beautiful skaters (usually - which reminds me of another post I'm about to do) and the fast motion of jumping, spinning or plain old stroking. To me, it's more zippy than most anything dancing can do ... yet, they show a clip of one of the musicals (people singing, rather than dancing) in that commercial.

I just don't get it. RC is the only cruise line to have an ice rink and you would think they might want to highlight that aspect more. And I can't imagine that someone in the ad biz can truthfully say that "We tested for audience reaction to skating and they didn't like it" because they've never put the skating in there to begin with!!

There was no skating in the brochures or on TV when I skated in the early 90s too.

So, I'm not done with this rant ... stay tuned.

August 16, 2010

That Was Quite An Exit

By now you've probably heard of Steven Slater, the jetBlue flight attendant, and his famous exit off the plane last week. I won't weigh into whether or not he should be fired, offered a reality tv show, or talk to Oprah. I'll let the comedians do that.

But one thing, I've got to say, was that's quite an exit. Grabbing two beers before hitting the slide - nice added touch. I'm willing to be that he had already choreographed that finale and he was only waiting for the right moment.

It reminds me of the urban myth of the show skater that quit an ice show during the show with skates still on. That's a great way to go. I never witnessed that, but I did skate in four shows and five different times where a skater or two left in the middle of the night. From Japan, no less. That requires some upfront planning. Or if not planning, running ... as in the juggler and his very pregnant wife with twins, running away from the police in the Tokyo train station.

Or you could ask Kathryn Bertine, from her book, All The Sundays Yet To Come, about the elaborate exit she had planned as well.

But you'll probably never see that carried out in the competitive world. Too much at stake. But wouldn't it be fun to see - for instance, someone who knows the judges are going to give them a raw deal no matter what - end their program with bows and cheers and then hold up a sign that thanks the crowd and says something like, "And now I'm outta here." They would bolt right by the Kiss-N-Cry area.

Tell me, who would you most like to see do something controversial like that? Do you have your own exit planned?

August 10, 2010

Summer Vacation

Monday my daughter had her first day of school. So soon? you ask. Well, in Panama there isn't a long summer vacation, because there isn't really a summer. It's about 90 degrees and 90% humidity all year long. (Which I'm not complaining about.) Most of the schools here begin their school year in March, making it harder for students starting school now to find the back-to-school supplies. (Oops, that was complaining.)

Excuse me, Ice Charades, does this post have anything to do with skating?

Why, yes, thanks for asking.

Now that summer is over in our household it's the perfect time to bore you in the next few posts about what I did on my summer vacation.

One of those days in July, my daughter and I went to a small-town county fair that was holding a fundraiser for the local fire department. It was a lot of fun and I think my daughter liked the bumper cars the best. They had the Scrambler, the Himalaya and the Tilt-a-Whirl among others, but I'm sure she liked the bumper cars the best.

It reminded me of my summers skating in amusement park ice shows, where we could ride all the rides for free.

A kid's dream come true!

Why could we ride for free? We had free entrance into the park and that way we got onto any of the rides before or after the shows. Plus our job was skating, which was way more fun than working the malt machine in the fair's dairy stand. (I did that job too in high school, so I make the comparison based on my own experience. That was a nightmare of a job - the malt-making one. To this day, I still can't look at a strawberry milkshake.)

But wait, better than that was my amusement park skating job in Japan. We lived IN the park. Right at the silly, little house next to the ferris wheel. Yup, three months in the park, looking out my window to see the wooden rollercoaster start up every morning. It was awesome.

Okay, okay, I wasn't thrilled and excited to see the rollercoaster every morning, but still, a lot of mornings. Good thing we skaters didn't take for granted our special living arrangements.

In fact, riding the rides wasn't enough. We turned them into competitions. (Hey, we're figure skaters with competition in our blood).

We had the bumper car contest where each of us had a large bucket of water on our lap and the person with the most water at the end of the ride (or any water, as was the case) was the winner. It was great until we saw that we had shorted out the battery-operated cars until they later dried out. Oooops.

We also had the run through the giant maze, only we were attached to two other teammates with a small rope and all three needed to do a shot at the entrance and exit of the maze.

But the cast's favorite by far was "Getting Looped on the Loop" game. You had to chug a small beer (in Japan they have beers in every size imaginable) as the rollercoaster slowly inched up to the peak before the crazy descent and on into the loop. The ride was really short - just one loop you did forward and then backwards, so we all had to do the ride five times with five small beers. This was a lot of fun and this we did, of course, after our last show of the day.

Aaaah, good times.

August 5, 2010

More On Disney

From the sound of my last post, I didn't want people to think that Ice Charades was all in a huff because she didn't get to go backstage.

I still enjoyed seeing the show and my daughter loved it.

When I saw my friend, now turned Performance Director, she whisked us downstairs and we got to sit on the bleacher seats right on by the ice. We were front and center. And when you sit next to the Performance Director, who was calling the show via her headset as well as taking notes, I noticed every skater made eye contact with her.

And some looked at me too. It made me feel a little like I was back in the gang and that they were performing for another skater ... it happens. It's exciting. But really, they were probably thinking, "Is that our new seamstress sitting next to the Director?" or "What am I going to have for dinner tonight?"

But I have to say watching the four themes of Viaje Fantastico, Lion King, Little Mermaid, Lilo and Stitch, and Peter Pan, I was reminded of a conversation I had with another skater at the Ice Capades reunion in Vegas one month ago.

Ice shows are hurting, he warned. The recession made it worse, but they were already in trouble. Just being at a reunion of an ice show that is now more and didn't have a very graceful ending was obvious. But watching four older shows, probably with recycled sets and costumes may have to be the trend of the future. It makes sense to keep the cost down. This tour had a cast of 45 skaters, which still seems like a lot, but it is down from the grand old days of ice shows (I don't know, the 70s - 80s?) when just the chorus alone was more than 45 skaters.

I think in Disney's case, they are lucky they can redo several show and the kids don't mind. At home, they watch the same movie a dozen times. But Holiday On Ice may not be able to do that. They can take the same show to new cities ... which, according to my source in Vegas is one thing HOI is looking into. They've never played the states before - hmmmm.

August 2, 2010

Not your father's ice show ...

See any blades in that photo? How about this one?

Disney On Ice produces some of the best props and costuming of any ice show out there, but I was more struck by the negative changes of the show that I saw yesterday in Panama. At least negative in this show girl's mind ...

1. Security - there is no more back stage access (or at least, that's what I was told). I understand that we're living in a different time than the innocent 80s, but most of the people that want to go backstage are not a danger to the skaters.

2. No more comps - okay, the show has to make money, but being able to get friends and family into ice shows for free was one of the best benefits of skating in a show.

But I don't want to end this post on a negative note, my six-year old daughter loved the show and I got to catch up with my first line captain - she's now the performance director - who I hadn't seen since 1984. Once again, all because of Facebook!