This blog is a collection of my thoughts and experiences from ten years as a skate dad. For those of you sitting with your jackets in the bleachers, first I salute you, but second I want to give you an honest sense of what you are in for and what to expect. Ice skating is both a trying and a glorious sport, but it doesn't happen without the special group of folks who cheer, support, and console the participants. This is dedicated to you.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

- personality


When you saunter into any rink right off the bat you field the sliding scale of personalities. Some gals are clearly here for socializing and team spirit. They hang out by the boards, frequently skate adjacent to their friends, and even when skating alone seem to always have an eye on what somebody else is doing. They are the gals that are here to "perform," glittered up and in costume. They grab your love. These are the skaters that attend all the weekend show scrimmages, the group practice sessions. If they get really good they may end up in a traveling ice show and even make a little money in the process. They are the ice entertainers.

On the other end of the spectrum you'll catch the gals that skate alone. They occasionally chat at the dashers but mostly they focus on personal achievement. Instead of weekend group scrimmages, they spend the early part of every weekday morning at a freestyle session with half a dozen of their peers in shared isolation. They gladly accept your love and adore you for it. These are the athletes. If they get really good they may travel with a parent to distant competitions, but aside from the very top one or two national skaters, nobody makes any money at competitive skating. These are the soul inspirers.

6 comments:

  1. That pretty much sums up everywhere I have ever skated! I've discoved while it's nice when a session is not crowded I really don't like skating alone, I may not socialize much but I love the energy that other skaters bring to a session.

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  2. Yes, "nobody makes any money at competitive skating" in the states. I get that no one will make $$$, but how about supporting top skaters in training and other millions of miscellaneous costs associated w/this stupid sport? tragic. When my daughter becomes top skater in senior division, I will make sure she looks like a stock car/racing car when she competes. Indy Cars ain't got nothin my dtr. Gotta give love to the sponsors.

    On a side note, has any skater turned down an "assignment" d/t financial constraints? I would love to see that. "BREAKING NEWS!!! Top US Figure skater turns down a chance at Olympic Gold due to financial hardship!!!!"

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    1. Hi Anon, Xan and I had an interesting discussion about this. A sport garners commercial sponsors because interested folks from the general population can casually participate on the weekend. Casual golfers watch the Masters on TV and then go out to buy a box of Titleist.

      Figure skating (and gymnastics too for that matter) lack sponsors precisely because their difficulty prevents a casual weekender from any chance of achieving resemblance to what they might watch on TV. The sports require too much dedication to become even slightly competent. Therefore no weekend pommel horse gymnasts or Axel-jumping skaters, no sponsors to sell them products, and hence no prize money or exorbitant salaries.

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  3. agree to certain extent. But still doesn't explain popularity of NASCAR and the sponsorships that it receives. I don't follow NASCAR, i think it's rather stupid that it's even linked to being sport when the cars only make left turns and will go as fast as it is built to go. Casual viewers don't aspire to supe up their family volvo station wagon to go 0-60 in under 5secs. Sponsorships are drawn by popularity; to promote their product. Not all sponsors of sports are necessarily affiliated w/that sport. The fact of the matter is figure skating has no following. Everything is tape delayed, USFSA does nothing to promote the sport. Popularity rises every 4 years for the winter olympics, otherwise dead. Need more exposure/controversy like Tonya/Nancy fiasco, as bad as it was, people talked about the sport. Play to the compelling lines/stories. Surely the geniuses at USFSA can come up w/ways to better market the sport. Until then, please wait for my daughter to take the ice when she turns senior w/IVIVA sticker on her pretty lil forehead, ZUCA sticker on her back and on her skates.

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    1. As I drive the freeways quite a bit here in L.A. I can assure you that, unfortunately, quite a few casual commuters DO think that they are Nascar drivers. Sigh.

      But seriously, if the sport were to intentionally seek commercial sponsors the other option would be to court audience "lifestyle" matches. Back a couple decades ago -- in the high-grace figure skating period -- these sponsors were outfits such as Longines, for example. Nowadays I'm not sure that skating audiences clump into a particularly strong demographic group (Lululemon?). This may be why the sport appears to be dying.

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  4. kinda coincides w/the fall of US Women's figure skating status internationally!

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