Figure Skating's Love Affairs with Little Girls
Twenty-nine heartbroken girls for every one smiling dictator.....and the Yulia hype I experienced during the course of the Sochi Olympics made me quietly whisper words like 'voyeurism' and 'pedo fetish' in the wholesome guise of sports and feel sad for girls retiring at the ripe old age of 23, with multiple injuries. It made me wonder, above all, what it means to be a fan of Olympic figure skating. Are we pure aesthetes, oblivious to its political underpinnings, and how it reflects on what the society sees as an ideal female body and women's place within it. Your thoughts....
Some reading about what it was like to be no longer a little girl
Last edited by verysmuchso; 02-27-2014 at 11:55 AM.
Reason: wanted to add this link http://en.actu.net/p/the-fallout-olympic-figure-skatings-love-affair-with-little-girls
I started a thread a while back on something similar. These little girls sent out to physically damage themselves. We would never allow this in a work environment. A
Originally Posted by verysmuchso
On athleticism, I have never understood how you can compare a whispy jump by an 85 lbs 15 year old to a woman - let´s say Nancy Kerrigan. What people call athletic is actually a small window where girls have lower bone density and a favorable ratio of muscle to fat. Of course they can more easily get into the air. Is it all that interesting?
What the judges of late have been ignoring is the quality of the moves. (I´m not talking artistry.) We saw with Gracie Gold where she landed the jump but there was a wobble in it. Or Yulia. Her foot is in the right direction but her body is askew. Adenia did the tricks but the line and flow out weren´t there . The mature, top skaters develop control. They land with everything in position, no settling. They have devloped all the little muscles that plant you firnly in position on landing.
It makes a difference. I don´t know why in figure skating this is not understood. In diving, for example, many high-school athletes can do triple layouts, etc. But only the Greg Louganis-es rotate with everything perfecdtly aligned and enter the water soundlessly. A 15 year old just isn´t develooped enough to understand much less perfect all these details.
As a side issue, at least with this new Russian group there isn´t the hyper-femininity thing going on. It seems reactionary to me to see these American and Japenese girls in loads of make-up, sequins over everything, and suggestive fleshy material. What view of women is that?
Wholeheartedly agree with you that 23 is way too young to be retiring with injuries, especially when those injuries are brought about by pressure to reach peak performance too early.
Not sure about love affairs with little girls, though. Was the response to Yulia *because* she's a little girl, or because she's a little girl who stepped into the Olympic moment with two amazing performances in the team competition?
There are lots of 15 year olds who don't debut to that kind of reaction. Otoh, eight years ago there was buzz about Mao before she was even eligible to compete, not so much because she was a little girl, but because she could jump like nobody else. True, her young age added to the sense of wonder, but if she hadn't that talent, she would have made a more anonymous debut and risen up the ranks in the more customary way.
So then they have to cancel the entire gymnastic programs in USA, Russia, China, Romania, anywhere!
Close ballet schools, close many children sport clubs, swimming, tracks, etc.
Absolutely nonsense. Kids are not aliens, they are normal humans, and they have to be pushed. They have to learn to break their own barriers, to expand their physical and mental limits.
And what is the definition of "normal childhood" anyway? Sitting in front of television and playing video games? And to have an excuse not to try because it's "too hard" or "beyond limits"?
Ask any athlete if it was all worth and they will all say: absolutely yes! They learn themselves, break barriers, control their bodies and minds, discipline, respect, work. They meet people and places they would never have a chance to meet. They work hard as hell but it's all greatly rewarded.
It's all academic talk anyway.
No one is saying the young shouldn´t develop their talents and push limits. But there is judgement involved. No responsible ballet master is going to push girls into toe shoes before the body structure is ready to support them. Of course the girls want the toe shoes - they want to feel all grown up. I came out of the music field where so many conservatory students hurt themselves - some irreversably - from repetitive practice or playing literature way byond their physical maturity. It´s not academic. It´s time to rethink what we are doing to young talent.
Originally Posted by CezarMart
I agree some technicals must be worked out, sure, you don't want to push impossible. You shouldn't force something to break.
Originally Posted by karlowens2
But I understood this topic was about philosophy in general.
This is the one issue that always haunts me about skating. I can hardly deal with it at all in gymnastics anymore, because the competitors are so often unnaturally tiny and childlike, and what the girls do is often so perilous--far more so than most of the men's events, which are largely based on strength. Now I watch only during the Olympics. But my love for skating is so profound that I would be hard-pressed to give it up.
I agree that mature artistry, with an understanding of the music, is more to my liking. In fact, though I could appreciate Oksana Baiul's obvious gifts, I preferred Nancy's style because it was smoother and more powerful, and also less adorned. I often found Oksana's arm movements fussy. I also felt that her posture was a bit hunched. That's my personal taste, though, so I can't argue it with any sense of conviction. For Russian artistry, I much prefer Katia Gordeyeva, who had great simplicity and flow when she skated at the peak of her technical powers (her partnership with Sergei) and retained that quality into her later solo career.
One thing I notice that heartens me a bit is that the supremacy of sprites has tended to come in cycles, interspersed with strong, graceful, mature athlete/artists. Even more satisfying is the fact that many of these mature skaters are the former small fry, who have stayed in and grown with the years. Michelle, Irina, YuNa, Mao, Shizuka, and Carolina are prime examples. I think in a way that CoP has facilitated this, because it stresses so many things besides the jumps.
(In a funny way, Michelle was an exception to the rule of sprites reigning supreme. Somehow by the time she reached that marvelous level of artistry, when she was still just fifteen, we didn't think of her as a sprite, and indeed she wasn't. Her skating wasn't spindly, wobbly, or juniorish. It wasn't "promising." It was already there. But a talent like hers doesn't come along every day.)
I strongly agree that this is a question that must continue to be asked. It's an important obligation that we fans have, I think.
One detail I'd like to point out (not that I'm trying to undermine your argument) is that Greg Louganis actually showed up and wowed everyone when he was sixteen, in the 1976 Games, I believe. He came within inches of beating the then-supreme diver Klaus Dibiasi (who was in his late twenties) for the gold. But like Kwan, Louganis was an exceptional athlete, mature at an early age and able to grow and improve through a long career. The gap between that Olympics and his string of gold-medal games was long, because the boycott kept him out of the 1980 Moscow games, so by the time we saw him again as an Olympian, he was at the peak of his powers and pretty much remained there. But I just bring it up because Louganis, like Kwan, breaks all the patterns. And aren't we lucky when someone like either of them comes along?
It really is a creepy obsession, isn't it?
There are many women, late teens and certainly 20s, who are capable of doing all the jumps, 7-8 triples in their long program, with mature artistry, full physical form, history of being champions. Yet how many times do you see posters on this board pleading for them to retire because "they can't wait for so-and-so 14 year olds in the next quad!"
I find it extremely weird and sick that adults would prefer to watch junior high aged girls competing instead of mature, grown women.
I agree and how many times has the young teenager been vaulted above simply because she's perkier (not necessarily a better skater...) and people like stories of "the youngest"?
Originally Posted by Ven
It's not about junior girls, although I must say I love the idea of little sprites with super powers. And it comes in waves. It depends who is dominating the sport at the moment. If the sprites will take over everything then I will root for more mature girls. But right now the sport needs new blood. I am tired of all those Costners who make up with "artistry" what they cannot do athletically anymore. It's a sport after all, and the athleticism still should be the main priority.
Originally Posted by Ven
I am completely not attracted to all those skating tours where all you see is the so called "artistry" and "gracefulness" of the 40 or 50 year olds, and the technical element is practically gone.
I prefer million times to watch explosive energy of young sprites than "gracefulness" of today Hammill or Gordeeva. I respect their accomplishments, but I will never want to waste my evening to go and see just them. They are fine as time fillers between the current athletes, and that's practically it.
Again, it's a sport. And should stay sport.
I wonder if it's feasible to have different competitions for "senior" men/women for medals in the Olympics? By "senior" I mean 28/30 or older. With somewhat different rules and judging standards.
I know that may be a long shot but it's one way to increase medal counts in figure skating. Currently the medals are way too few. And I am not sure whether Team competition is here to stay. Consensus seems to be those who participated in team competition failed to achieve their goals in singles due to added stress.
Size 7 Knifeboots
I think you guys need to get your heads out of the gutter!!! What an offensive piece of crap this is. Have you ever been to a rink for a freestyle skate. Nearly everyone is under 18!!! This sport is a little girl/boy sport. Is Yulia not supposed to get a chance to compete because some sicko looks at her wrong. Its just my oppinion but she is amongst the top 10 in the world at this sport and has earned a place here but no...some poor loser cant view her spin as art and grace so lets criticize her for it! Its like a religious bookburning or something. How is that fair to her. Ill accept discussing the notion of a young kid working too hard and discuss that at length but ultimately I'm a family choice kinda person. If you think your kid can handle the stress and pressure I'm all for it. After all im the type of person who supports choice! Who needs some know it all telling them how to live their life. If you respect Yulia and and any young kid good enough to be at the top you should have no problem keeping your mind out of the gutter. If you can't please stop watching and please log off!
Why should it be? Why can't there be room for everyone else?
Originally Posted by Sam-Skwantch
Originally Posted by Sam-Skwantch
It's not just figure skating but pop culture loves young teenage girls. There were like countdown clocks on the Internet for Emma Watson to turn 18. Or you looks at Esquire or Maxim hot lists and they're full of barely legal girls.