Wicked Yankee Girl
Maybe Cup of China, any given year? They have that aerial camera and really like to use it!
Just like every sporting event - it depends where you sit.
We went to Skate America in my city once, got cheap tickets somewhere in upper section and the view really sucked! However, the arena was never more than 25% full, so we simply walked down to a row almost next to the ice and it was spectacular.
Watching skating up close does not compare to anything. The skaters are almost touching you, they look at you, they wave at you, you feel their breath and hear their skates sliding on the ice. Then you feel the atmosphere when waiting for the score, look at the public, you don't miss any moment. And what is even better: the skaters after their performance walk among the public as if they were the public. They sit on seats next to you and watch other performances. The Helgesson sisters with their mom sat right behind me. Denney and Barrett were sitting maybe ten seats from me and when I look at Denney she smiled back at me.
My wife was chatting with Meryl and Charlie during the autograph session.
We got autograph from almost everyone there. Or at least from those we could recognize.
I even took photos at the event:
One of those photos were published on Alona and Robin's web site:
Anyway, watching figure skating in person is a completely different experience. But, it's not only figure skating. Tennis, soccer, football, anything in person. It's a new dimension of seeing things.
I've never been to a live skating event, but I would think that ice coverage would be easier to judge in person.
Its not exactly the same, but my sister and I saw the Rhythmic Gymnastics final at the London Olympics and you could really tell the difference between the gymnasts that covered a lot of the mat and those that didn't. I have watched a decent amount of RGymnastics on tv, youtube etc. and could never really tell the best from the rest. In person though its really obvious who the very top tier gymnasts are. I would think it would be the same or similar for skating.
Pretty much what others have said - you get really floored with the speed at which skaters go. Everything just seems very awesome and athletic. I remember Volchkova jumping a lutz in front of me and I swear her boots were above the board height at the apex of the jump.
The other thing is that some skaters are really better on telly. Sasha Cohen is very slow and underwhelming in person. On TV she is lovely, but watching live, she is kinda nonexistent.
At the rink. Again.
Even if you don't get to an international, going to a local competition can be eye opening and give you a flavor for what differences are between to top, middle, and bottom live. Ice coverage, choreography, program construction, jump quality, spin quality, readiness of the athelete (do they poop out at the end of their program or are they still going strong), and so on are all MUCH easier to see in person.
When I was a teenage preliminary skater in the 1970s, skaters tended to take their time learning new jumps, so that many juvenile and intermediate skaters might only have a few double jumps, and triples were very rare at higher levels. It seemed to me at the time that one major way of distinguishing what level a skater belonged at was what jumps she was doing.
In the 1990s, I started paying attention to figure skating again and got obsessed.
Attending live competitions made a big difference in my understanding of what makes better skating.
I attended a local club competition. By that time, many of the juveniles were doing double lutzes and double-double combinations, and even the best prejuvenile had a double lutz. The seniors were not successfully landing double axels or triples; some of them didn't try, at least in the freeskate where they weren't required.
So the difference between juvenile and senior was clearly not in the jump content. They were mostly all doing the same double jumps. But the height, distance, completed rotation, etc. of the jumps did clearly improve, on average, with each higher level. More obviously the speed and security on the ice improved.
At the club level, often there would be one skater in a group who had the talent to be competitive on a national level, competing against skaters of average and below-average ability. It would often be clear as soon as that skater started her program, did some steps and edges and crossovers, even before the first jump, that she would easily deserve to win unless she bombed big time.
(Obviously, when that skater got to sectionals or nationals she would be competing against others of similar ability, so judges would need to make finer distinctions and one or two mistakes would be a lot more costly.)
I went to 1994 US Nationals, arriving in time for the men's freeskate. In the earlier groups, Rudy Galindo skated what looked to me like a clean program (I later saw a video that showed there were subtle cheats/two-foot landings on some jumps), with a triple axel, strong spins, good body line, good musical expression. Why couldn't that performance win, I wondered.
As soon as the top guys came out for the final warmup group, I understood why. The level of speed/power/ice coverage from those guys was on a completely different level than in the earlier groups.
Wow ... Looks like I have to get myself out to an event and soon too, looks like everyone agrees that live is an entirely different animal than watching on the tv.
I agree about Sasha Cohen. When I saw her live, I was really shocked at how slow she moved, and the lack of ice coverage in comparison with some of the other women. TV really enhanced her performances which were lovely.
Originally Posted by Nadya
My mother and I went to Nationals in Omaha last year and had second row seats. Before that, we had been to a couple of COI shows, and I had been to SOI many years ago (in the late 90s).
Things that really stood out to me about a live competition:
--Ice coverage and how skaters place elements on the rink--which really is part of choreo. You really have no sense of that on television.
--Speed. I never thought much about it when certain skaters were talked about as being too slow. There wasn't a lot of difference in my mind. But I'm here to tell you that Caroline Zhang looks like she is skating through a layer of molasses while wearing fuzzy slippers. A few of the lesser known senior skaters were equally slow and a friend and I were given a pair of free tickets to junior ladies short where there was a lot of crawling, too. And the fast skaters--when the warm groups would come on the ice for the men, they would come flying by us in a pack of five or six on their first lap around the ice and there was a cold breeze when they went by.
--Height of jumps is clearer from close seats in the arena.
--Pairs--the height of throws, twists and lifts is kind of awe-inspiring from the second row. You don't really think about it watching a screen.
--Sounds of blades--you can hear the scratchy blades versus the deep edges that are quieter.
--Power--I was taken by the difference in power between the men and women particularly seeing them jump or spin directly in front of our section. The men are just stronger, higher and faster. Nothing against the ladies, though.
--Costumes and make-up--it is all truly designed and intended for the view of the judges in the arena. Stuff that seems over done in a close up on television is not really distracting in the arena. I had to point this out to a relative who was trashing Meryl for her make-up during the Olympics. It is like stage make-up and meant to enhance features for people looking from a greater distance than a panned in tv camera.