I had the pleasure of attending a few hours of the Pasadena Open on Saturday and a couple of items struck me as particularly fleek. As always I'm impressed by the ambiance of the place (the rink part at least; the ancillary facilities could use a bit of work). I struck up a conversation with a gentleman fixing some coping in the men's room and I commented how much I liked the skating structure -- it was holding up fairly well for being "temporary". You see it's like a giant tent. I still don't understand how it manages to keep the heat and humidity out effectively, but it does.
Standing next to him outside the place I mentioned it looks as though it should last until the seams between the fabric sections unravel. "Oh it'll be fine," he commented, "we'll just replace the outer tent in a couple of years." I raised my eyebrows. "You know it's actually two tents, a tent inside a tent, with four feet in-between them. Here, you can see it at the doorway" and he escorted me to the side entrance, showing me a metal access panel that was four feet across. "Oh," I replied, "now I understand." The rink design was perfectly fleek. "That explains everything." In my mind's eye I imagined four feet of insulation between the layers with a couple vapor barriers, so there you go. Then he described the HVAC and how efficient it was. "Uhhmm," I interrupted him, "are you the rink manger?" He said he was, so I introduced myself, we chatted about another manager we knew in common, and I told him I write this blog. Then I tried to convince him the structure needs an adjacent hockey shop.
It was around 90 outside so I excused myself to cool off and watch some skating. Nowadays when I spend time at local event I'm mostly interested in the intermediate freeskates -- they had group A with three flights running from 10:30 to noon and group B with three flights from 3:00 to 4:30. Intermediate is such an interesting level as the skaters have enough technical ability to fill out a program quite nicely, and yet they have such a wide variation in styles of presentation to make me plan all sorts of improvement.
When you grow into a seasoned viewer like myself, watching a gal skate a program generates two parallel trains of thought simultaneously. One is strictly observant, enjoying the flourishes and skillful maneuvers and watching the edges cut the ice. The other is imaginative of the possibilities. That second track is thinking: This would have looked better with the hands this way, she will overrotate this jump, she needs to hold her spiral longer, the raise to Bielmann needs to be slower and more graceful.
Every once in a while though a skater will pull me out of duality and make me quietly just watch. One of the skaters in group A (I think she was from AllYear FSC) did just that, and afterward I recognized what had happened: her concordance to the music was fleek. She wasn't at the highest skill levels in her jumps and footwork, but she was close enough landing everything (with only one two-footer) and more importantly every crescendo or accent in the music had a corresponding arm or leg flourish exactly on cue. It appeared nearly as though the music had been written specifically for her program. Fleek.
When you're watching a light-entertainment or an exhibition program you expect the skater to flow and work with the music; you presume she is skating the intent and story of what she had edited together for her program. Nowadays when I watch a freeskate it seems all to often though that the skater simply chose a certain style of music she likes and then tries to shoehorn in all of her required moves with a somewhat vague fitting to the mood. Unfortunately most freeskates don't follow closely to the music. It's rather sad but I understand the motivation. All the more reason if you want to stand out as an exceptional artistic skater you'll engineer your freeskate program to highlight and match your tune.