Your favorite and least favorite figure skating commentators | Golden Skate

Your favorite and least favorite figure skating commentators

Minz

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Commentary can be an important part of the experience of watching figure skating. The right commentator(s) can provide knowledgeable information and present it in the right way. The wrong commentator(s) can ruin the entire event.

So who are your favorite and least favorite commentators? Plus, what makes an ideal commentator for you?

I’ll start first..

Favorites
Ted Barton - He’s always so positive, but he does know most of his technical stuff. Plus he tries his best to pronounce those Russian names.

Mark Hanretty - Provides good insight and technical knowledge. He also looks on the bright side and is pretty good at pronouncing names

Tanith White and Charlie White - They did some commentary last year for the US Nationals on NBC Sports Gold, and while I don’t remember too much about it, I remember enjoying it a lot.

Least Favorite
Simon - (the guy who commentated the WTT this year) - Oh, god. I can’t even describe this. To his credit, he is a tennis commentator, but still at least learn something about the sport that you’re commentating! It‘s an euler, not a rough landing. It’s not Nam Noogen, and please stop repeating that Alison Schumacher was born in China, but now skates for Canada because it’s completly ireelvant. And why on earth do I need to know that Anna Shcherbakava (that’s how he pronounced it) broke her leg four years ago? Please, anyone but this guy.

Alexei Yagudin - While I can barely understand a word of what he is saying (I don’t speak Russian), I have my issues with him, so I don’t want him commentating (at least if he ever did it in English)

My ideal commentator
An ideal commentator to me is someone with good technical knowledge, someone who is positive but realistic, at least attempts to pronounce names right, and someone who is telling me what I need to know and not what is right in front of my face. (For example, it’s good to know that a jump is under review by the technical panel, but I don’t need you to tell me that a skater is skating into their opening position, because I can very clearly see that.
 
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Ic3Rabbit

Patineuse élite et professionnelle
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Jan 9, 2017
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Canada
Past and Present

Favorites: Paul Wylie, Scott Hamilton, Kurt Browning, Susie Wynne, Dick Button, Ryan Bradley, Tracy Wilson, Charlie White, Tanith Belbin-White, Verne Lundquist, and all the UK guys on Eurosport(esp. Nicky Slater).




Least Favorites: Sandra Bezic, Tara and Johnny, Peter Carruthers, Andrea Joyce, Rod Black, Jillian Barberie.
 

anonymoose_au

Insert weird opinion here
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Feb 22, 2014
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Australia
I'll probably regret posting in this thread... :laugh2:

Favourite

Ted Barton:
The best, he doesn't blather on during the skate and he always has nice things to say. Just because it's a sport doesn't mean commentators need to be nasty. Plus he knows what he's talking about technique wise!

Chris and Simon: But they need to be together! As last season showed Simon struggles badly on his own.

Mark Hanretty: Vast knowledge and knows when to keep quiet even if he does talk during the skates. Also you gotta love that Scottish accent :biggrin:

Least favourite:

Rants incoming...

Sandra Bezic: OMG what was her problem at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics?! I wasn't even a huge Plushy fan at the time, but I thought her commentary was awful...and now I AM a huge Plushy fan it's downright rage inducing. Was she at Torino too? Because that commentary was also an utter trainwreck, the US commentators were obviously watching an entirely different event when Plushy skated there, because let me tell you every other country's commentary thought he was amazing and they were like "That wasn't a program" (I'm not even sure what that means)

Alexei Yagudin and T Tarasova: I don't speak Russian, but the translations I've heard...from Yagudin's disgusting relief about Jason Brown (who idolised him!) and his lack of quads not making a GPF Final, to T Tarasova calling skaters fat (has she looked in a mirror since the 70s?), they're horrible.

Favourite and least favourite at the same time:

Dick Button
...on the one hand I do love some of his comments and he's very experienced and enthusiastic. But damn could he be biased. Like everytime Plushy would pause in a program (like before the step sequence) he would flip his lid, berating him for "resting" too much. However, looking at other skaters programs of the time...they all did that. Yet, Plushy was the only one he'd blast for it, what's that all about? Also he once accused Plushy of copying (badly) Yagudin's footwork, I almost threw my laptop out the window at that one. Oh and the pathological hatred of Plushy's arm movements, at one point I was like "Just because your arms were stiff as a board while skating doesn't mean every skaters' has to be." at my screen

Not really a favourite, but I like their voice:

SBS Man aka Paul Aster
: He doesn't know a dang thing about skating, but he has a nice voice and I find I can tune out his actual words, if you have to talk during a performance it's good to have a voice that a viewer can block out :laugh2:

Scott Hamilton: He's the opposite of SBS man really, but I have a soft spot for his excitement and calling of jumps "Triple toooooe!"
 

el henry

Fangirl of men’s spirals and split jumps
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Mar 3, 2014
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Favs:
Uncle Dick because he's Uncle Dick, Ted Barton for positivity to *every* skater, and Mark Hanretty for general excellence. And Looootz. :)

Ones I don't like vary by competition. ;)

I will say this about Simon (and I did not hear his commentary on Nam) his pronunciation may be closer to Nam's than one actually thinks. As far as I know, Nam pronounces his own name "Noo-Win"

 

Ic3Rabbit

Patineuse élite et professionnelle
Record Breaker
Joined
Jan 9, 2017
Country
Canada
I'll probably regret posting in this thread... :laugh2:

Favourite

Ted Barton:
The best, he doesn't blather on during the skate and he always has nice things to say. Just because it's a sport doesn't mean commentators need to be nasty. Plus he knows what he's talking about technique wise!

Chris and Simon: But they need to be together! As last season showed Simon struggles badly on his own.

Mark Hanretty: Vast knowledge and knows when to keep quiet even if he does talk during the skates. Also you gotta love that Scottish accent :biggrin:

Least favourite:

Rants incoming...

Sandra Bezic: OMG what was her problem at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics?! I wasn't even a huge Plushy fan at the time, but I thought her commentary was awful...and now I AM a huge Plushy fan it's downright rage inducing. Was she at Torino too? Because that commentary was also an utter trainwreck, the US commentators were obviously watching an entirely different event when Plushy skated there, because let me tell you every other country's commentary thought he was amazing and they were like "That wasn't a program" (I'm not even sure what that means)

Alexei Yagudin and T Tarasova: I don't speak Russian, but the translations I've heard...from Yagudin's disgusting relief about Jason Brown (who idolised him!) and his lack of quads not making a GPF Final, to T Tarasova calling skaters fat (has she looked in a mirror since the 70s?), they're horrible.

Favourite and least favourite at the same time:

Dick Button
...on the one hand I do love some of his comments and he's very experienced and enthusiastic. But damn could he be biased. Like everytime Plushy would pause in a program (like before the step sequence) he would flip his lid, berating him for "resting" too much. However, looking at other skaters programs of the time...they all did that. Yet, Plushy was the only one he'd blast for it, what's that all about? Also he once accused Plushy of copying (badly) Yagudin's footwork, I almost threw my laptop out the window at that one. Oh and the pathological hatred of Plushy's arm movements, at one point I was like "Just because your arms were stiff as a board while skating doesn't mean every skaters' has to be." at my screen

Not really a favourite, but I like their voice:

SBS Man aka Paul Aster
: He doesn't know a dang thing about skating, but he has a nice voice and I find I can tune out his actual words, if you have to talk during a performance it's good to have a voice that a viewer can block out :laugh2:

Scott Hamilton: He's the opposite of SBS man really, but I have a soft spot for his excitement and calling of jumps "Triple toooooe!"
Regarding Sandra, she was always like that with every competition. You should have heard her at the 2010-2013 US Nationals. Horrible. She should stick to choreography. ;)
 

lizardlass

On the Ice
Joined
Mar 26, 2018
Least favorite: Sandra Bezic, Tara and Johnny. I scream SHUT UP so often when they commentate.
Like: Ted Barton, Terry Gannon, Peggy, the Brits, Tanith and Charlie, Susie.
Mixed bag: Dick and Scott. They are both so completely who they are, it's either great, or super annoying/infuriating. I liked Dick more often than not, though. It's been too long since he has commentated. :frown:
Shouldn't be commentating at all because he's a hateful, nasty person: Alexei.
 

fzztsimmons

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Nov 14, 2018
Faves: Mark Hanretty has my whole heart <3
I also really enjoy Belinda Noonan, her Olympic commentary is always spot on!
Tanith and Charlie are SUPERB, their US Nationals commentary was exceptional, even for the singles skaters.
I used to enjoy the B.Esp Uncles but WTT proved that Simon and Chris need to be together to bounce off one another and not separate.

Only ones I hate are Tara (don't mind Johnny too much actually) because dear god she never learns to shut the eff up. And finally Paul Alster who literally ruined the 4CC experience for me and actually prevents me from rewatching performances from that competition because of his inane rambling.
 

iluvtodd

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Mar 5, 2004
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I'm partial to "Uncle" Dicky, warts & all. Love Tanith's (& Charlie's) commentary & major kudos to Mark Hanretty. I have a very soft spot for Terry Gannon, even though he ends up repeating things we already know about the skaters (my guess is that he's being told by NBC to do that).
Johnny Weir is knowledgeable, but sometimes I feel he is excessively harsh (picking on Bradie Tennell for skating to Cinderella, come on Johnny, it was Bradie's dream to do that). Re: Tara, she needs to let the commentary be less about herself (when I was competing ...).
As much as I 💕 Scott Hamilton as a skater & for his enthusiasm, I can do without his commentating - too screechy for me!
 
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Dreamer57

Medalist
Joined
May 20, 2018
Here's my list with a couple of examples I can think of

Favourite:
Mark Hanretty - Worlds 2021, 2017 Cup of China Ladies FS
PJ Kwong - Olympic Channel, 2019 Winter Universiade
Ted Barton - ISU JGP series, 2020/21 Rus Nats
Carol Lane / Kurt Browning - CBC commentary together. Generally positive, knowledgeable and enthusiastic (as all above)

Like/OK:
Chris Howarth - when he's with Simon Reed {British Eurosport}
Robin Cousins - {BBC commentary usually paired up with Kat} Worlds 2021 Pairs FS
Kat Downes - {BBC} Worlds 2021 Pairs FS, Worlds 2018 (Wakaba's FS). I think she is quite good from a casual viewer perspective.
Terry Gannon - {NBC} 2012 Yuzuru Hanyu FS
I also liked the commentary on Teledeporte {Spanish} during the 2015 Grand Prix Men FS, but don't know their names.

Not a fan of:
Paul Alster - Euros & 4CC 2020. Lack of knowledge, repetitive...can a skater come up with the goods etc.
Tara Lipinski - usually with Johnny Weir on NBC. Talking all the way through a performance

Who I'd like to hear more of: Tanith & Charlie, where do I find them?
 

flanker

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Feb 10, 2018
Country
Czech-Republic
Interesting that people usually don't like Tara/Johnny much. I can't say I'm her fan, but I also do not dislike their commenting. Maybe it's because the low quality of the czech commenting (apart from Tomáš Verner, who unfortunately comments the least frequently) that I see many people as an improvement :biggrin:

That leads me to an idea, that here generally people talk about the english speaking commentators. For those from non-english speaking countries, how do you compare the names that were listed here with your native commentators?
 

elbkup

I AM a soul; I HAVE a body..
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Favorites: Adding Ben Agosto though he does not comment often that I have found. He is wonderful.. respectful, knows when to speak and stay silent and SO knowledgeable
Also mentioned.. PJ Kwong, Carol Lane, Kurt Browning, Ted Barton.

Least: Tara but she may be under pressure from her network to keep up the commentary at all costs; I have wanted to duct tape her mouth when she speaks during Jason’s smooth as silk performances
 

4everchan

Observer
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Mar 7, 2015
i like Carol Lane, Kurt Browning, Tracy Wilson and Charlie White . Mark is also very very good.

I do not dislike Ted Barton. He does a fine job with juniors, finding constructive criticism and positive comments for everyone, but I cannot stand his monotonous voice. It's like listening to my mom giving me her grocery list. Does the job, very exhaustive and comprehensible, but not exciting at all ;)

I prefer listening to the Japanese commentators in this case : I don't understand Japanese at all but they are exciting...

I disliked the WTT guy this year too... when a commentator is rehashing old news instead of talking about what is happening on the ice, it's just that he doesn't know enough. (Simon was his name IIRC)

Tara and Johnny : I have never watched them for real, but heard their commentary on youtube... UGH...

In French : Alain Goldberg : like/dislike relationship with him... Very knowledgeable but also can be controversial.... his homophobic comments didn't go unnoticed (regarding costumes of Johnny Weir) but I learned a lot from him as he knows, when he has time, how to explain everything so well to fans who are not skaters. A long time ago, he was describing GP events I believe, and he broke down the mechanics of every single jump... and that's got me into watching figure skating, as I finally understood what was going on... but ... he also annoys me with his screaming..... :)
 

TontoK

Hot Tonto
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Jan 28, 2013
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I recall Charlie White and Michael Weiss commenting on some event, maybe US Nationals but not the main broadcast.

I thought they were very good. Quiet during the performances, and informed commentary afterwards, emphasizing the good qualities and things that need improvement.

I know that some people don't like negative commentary, but I think it's helpful in distinguishing the good from the very good, so long as the comments are not meanspirited.
 

noskates

Record Breaker
Joined
Jun 11, 2012
Favorite: Johnny Weir and Tanith Belbin (both are extremely knowledgeable and articulate about the technicalities of their respective disciplines) Kurt Browning (because of his personality) It doesn't bother me when Johnny calls someone out because most of the time I agree with him. I disagree with people saying he's been mean. I don't believe that's ever been his intention. He just calls it as he sees it. If he gets cranky it's because he has to listen to Tara running her mouth ad nauseam.

Least Favorite: Tara Lapinski (she talks too much during a performance)
Dick Button (mostly because he was still steeped in his era and had not acknowledged the sport had changed - sorry Dick, but a spiral is not more important than a triple jump) Peter Carruthers (for SOOO many reasons, not the least of which he never finished sentences and his delivery was awkward with little or no content) And this might be sacriligious but Scott Hamilton (because he would get so excited he would forget to tell you what was going on)

And in a different category, I think Terry Gannon does a pretty darn good job given he's a retired basketball player. He obviously does his homework and has become quite knowledgeable about figure skating!!!

Oops, forgot to mention Charlie White as a good commentator.
 

GoneWithTheWind

On the Ice
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Dec 7, 2018
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Favourite: Tanith & Charlie White, Ben Agosto (only heard him a few times, but he was really good), Mark Hanretty, Belinda Noonan (from 2018 Olys).
Not sure if she's ever commentated but having watched Renée Roca discuss ice dance at 2021 Worlds on TSL (not a fan of theirs, but was intrigued to hear Renée thoughts), I think she'd do a very good job.

Like: Ted Barton, when he's commentating juniors, his encouragement and finding something positive to say about all the skaters regardless of ability is great. Not so much of a fan when he's commentating the seniors.

Not a fan of: Paul Alster and his lack of knowledge. Also, I really disliked his commentating on the Ice Dance event at 2020 Euros. Him freely admitting that he wasn't watching Charlène & Marco because he was still distracted by S/K beating P/C and therefore had nothing to say about their performance is not great commentary. (Granted, this probably rankled me more because I'm a fan of G/F!)
 

figureskatingandrainbows

August can't get here soon enough
Final Flight
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Dec 8, 2020
I adore Mark Hanretty, Dick Button, Tanith and Charlie, and PJ. Ted Barton is perfect for juniors; he never says anything rude about the juniors and doesn't talk during the programs. Mark, especially, did his research and is very accurate about tech content. He didn't hesitate to call out bad technique, like Morisi's quad toe, but also was very positive and supportive of the skaters.

I have a strong bias against Simon and Chris. I haven't really heard much of them together, but Chris at the YOG was terrible, Simon was awful at 4CC especially to Jun, and WTT was better but still irritating. They have problems with name pronunciation and just don't do their research, and there are some cases where the commentary is just plain wrong, especially about jump rotations. I also really dislike Tara, although her and Johnny have improved. Tara will often get in the way of Johnny's commentary, and she recently joined the Ice Talk podcast to replace Jackie Wong. She refuses to talk about any non-American skater and will constantly get in the way of Mirai talking about the event. Not a fan at all. I think a lot of the problem with Johnny is with NBC and NBCSN, because American television seems so weird. Johnny is a good commentator, but he has to keep on explaining very basic scoring ideas, talking during performances about GOE and PCS, and three people makes the commentary feel very cluttered. There are also so many sponsored segments and strange flashbacks, and they have commercials after every skate. I think that's just me being confused by the US television networks though.

I really like the Japanese commentators. They'll announce the element and then give a short comment, usually describing the quality, and then stop talking and enjoy the performance. I don't mind Russian commentary, because I can't understand a word of it.
 

Flying Feijoa

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Sep 22, 2019
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New-Zealand
Interesting that people usually don't like Tara/Johnny much. I can't say I'm her fan, but I also do not dislike their commenting. Maybe it's because the low quality of the czech commenting (apart from Tomáš Verner, who unfortunately comments the least frequently) that I see many people as an improvement :biggrin:

That leads me to an idea, that here generally people talk about the english speaking commentators. For those from non-english speaking countries, how do you compare the names that were listed here with your native commentators?
I don't know a lot of Russian myself, but Grishin from Channel 1 seems to be pretty well-received among posters who understand the language. And from what I can catch he appears knowledgeable. Would that be right?

Japanese commentators seem nice, although they have a tendency to name each element as it's done (kind of redundant given the visible tech box). Japanese and Chinese commentators generally don't talk too much during the programme, which is good. Chinese skating terminology is more of a direct translation versus transliteration so it took me time to get used to.

As for English, favourites are Mark Hanretty (yay Scotland!), Ted Barton, Nicky Slater, least favourite is Tara. I prefer people to stay on-topic and explain technical details instead of weaving narratives.
 
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Minz

What am I doing?
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Tara will often get in the way of Johnny's commentary, and she recently joined the Ice Talk podcast to replace Jackie Wong. She refuses to talk about any non-American skater and will constantly get in the way of Mirai talking about the event.
Different Tara. The commentator is Tara Lipinski, and the one on Ice Talk is Tara Wellman. I believe that Tara Wellman used to do editing or producing when Jackie and Nick were hosting Ice Talk.
 

balabam

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Nov 23, 2015
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Slovakia
Belinda Noonan. Australian who did commentary at the last 3 Olympics for the official olympic stream. She is the diamond. Best expert in the business, no biased opinions, no unnecessary emotions. High level of expertise.
And British tennis commentator, lady, who did the 2018 Worlds commentary for Eurosport, former figure skater. What is her name? Very nice voice and very inteligent opinions. And she can comment for the next 30 years, as she is around 30 years old.
 
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balabam

On the Ice
Joined
Nov 23, 2015
Country
Slovakia
Belinda Noonan. Australian who did commentary at the last 3 Olympics for the official olympic stream. She is the diamond. Best expert in the business, no biased opinions, no unnecessary emotions. High level of expertise.
And British tennis commentator, lady, who did the 2018 Worlds commentary for Eurosport, former figure skater. What is her name? Very nice voice and very inteligent opinions. And she can comment for next 30+ years, if she will get the credit as she ist around 30 years old
 
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