Monday, March 10, 2014

Favourite Skate of the Day: An Explanation of My Weakness that is Figure Skating, Plus Patrick Chan's "Phantasia"

After meeting me, it's only a matter of time until you find out that I am quite a big fan of figure skating (particularly men's figure skating), though this interest is something that ebbs and flows depending on the time: however the Sochi Olympics just refuelled that fire, and I am once again completely in love with the sport.

Because of my rekindled affection for figure skating, I've decided to periodically post videos of some of my favourite skating performances, starting now. But first, some explanation:

Figure skating requires an intense amount of athleticism, which I think some people often forget, as it is technically a "glamour sport". But behind the shiny veneer and effortlessness that is presented, I'd hazard to say that any skater is not a world-class athlete. How many people do you know that can dead-lift a muscular girl while speeding across ice on two blades, only to hold her with a single arm, or throw her up in the air and put her back down light as a feather? It takes strength, balance, agility, flexibility, and all kinds of other skills. Can I figure skate? Oh no, definitely not. I mean, I can skate just fine, as any average Canadian can, but as soon as it comes to spins or balances, jumps or tricks, I'm afraid that I am lacking. But that doesn't mean that I don't love watching those who can! In fact, I can't seem to get enough of it these days. 

When I was younger, I adored Michelle Kwan, and put up huge cutouts of her from newspapers in my room. I later found great enjoyment in seeing Kurt Browning, Elvis Stojko, and Evengy Plushenko skate, which carried me all the way into my teens where I became enamoured with Jeffrey Buttle. I remember at the 2006 Turin Olympics, waiting nervous as numerous skaters performed after him, while he clung to the Bronze Medal position, only to go on to win the bronze, and blow everything out of the water to become world champion a few years later. It seems like it's always the Olympics that stir me up again (even though I often do get engaged in the World Championships as well), and I also remember getting so caught up in Joannie Rochette's emotional performance at the Vancouver 2010 games (another bronze-winning skate!).

Of course there are so many other skaters that I adore these days, and apparently I know far more about the figure-skating world than I ever realized, as evidenced by all the "fun facts" I've been spewing the past few months. But I don't think any skater has really captured my heart so much as Patrick Chan: I recall seeing his 2nd place skate at the 2009 world's and thinking "I like this guy. He's going to be great." And I was certainly right, as I've since followed him through a 5th place finish in Vancouver 2010, another silver at worlds, followed by 3 consecutive World Championship titles, which is an accomplishment that currently only 2 other men in history have achieved (including fellow Canadian Kurt Browning!). And I continue to love Chan --not just because or since he started winning, like some people suggest-- but because there is simply something special about the way he skates. Also, when I first became aware of Patrick he was only 18, and I was also 18 so... well... obviously I developed a bit of a crush on the guy. How could I not? That's what your teens are for, and he's absolutely adorable!

In any case, to kick off this series of my favourite skates, here is Patrick Chan's Free Skate from the 2011 Canadian Championships. 
This is from those few years where Patrick kept skating to music from the Phantom of the Opera, which seemed to really work for him. The footwork sequences of the choreography are just perfect for him, and I absolutely love the costuming as well (plus Shawn Sawyer's face is priceless near the end; you're great too, Shawn!). 

This has been my first favourite skate of note, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do (well, that may be a bit difficult, but I'm sure you know what I mean). 
Hopefully there will be more to come soon (if I have the chance to post), and if you have any favourite skates of your own that you love for any reason at all, tell me about it, because I'd love to see them!
...... Now everyone knows that figure skating is my weakness, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

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