In answer to the daily prompt Teen Age Idol
My idols? Oksana Bayul, Sarah Abitbol & Stephane Bernardis, Isabelle & Paul Duchesnay, Marina Anissina & Gwendal Peizerat, Sasha Cohen and Alexei Yagudin.
I have never understood the fuss around stars… The glamour has never really appealed to me; for me it’s really “much ado about nothing” to steal Shakespeare’s title. In fact I have only ever been to one big pop star concert and that was Celine Dion at the Stade de France in 1999. I could say it has to do with the fact I loathe crowds but in this case that would be insufficient. I am terrified of crowds and I avoid such events like the plague; still that didn’t prevent me from going at least 4 times a year to competition packed with another type of fans: ice skating buffs.
I have been on skates since I was four years old: roller-skates to start and then starting at 10 I practiced figure skating for 8 years. I was never particularly gifted – in the sense that I probably would never have gone very far if my trainer had been inclined to push me towards competition – but I loved it and I have always been extremely good at the theory of sport and analyzing (scored 20 out of 20 at my theory exams in university; always lost point on the practical part 😛 ). So I particularly appreciated going to competition and took an ever greater pleasure in figuring out which jump, which pirouette the skater would do.
That’s why Cohen, Yagudin and Anissina/Peizerat top my list. There was always a surprise, always a twist.
Sasha Cohen had these crazy arabesques – even crazier than Nancy Kerrigan’s and that’s something because she was amazing in the first place – where she was literally doing a full split on her blade. I loved how she didn’t jump as high as her competition but turned so fast you wondered how she didn’t fall out of dizziness. There was a frailty to her that came through in competition; she was a hit or miss but throughout her career she was a favourite of mine. She always succeeded in making my heart leap or stop with her moves. I loved watching her skate.
Anissina/Peizerat… ah, the very first ice dancing Olympic champions in a curious context. But for that jump the Russians should have won the gold in 2002 but they did jump and that’s illegal in ice dance. Still this couple kept me to the edge of my seat every time they skated together. They have been compared to fire and ice but the truth is that there was something compelling about their dancing; you couldn’t take your eyes away from them. Anissina lifting Peizerat in a surprising move, at least the first time it happened, was a powerful thing to see. They had a way to bring you into the story they were weaving and I loved being engulfed into their passion or drama for the time of the dance.
Alexei Yagudin… I could go on and on forever about this champion of champions. He knew how to party and he was said to love doing it. He was contagious… I remember a kiss on the cheek after a competition – I was lucky enough to be sitting in the first row and he stopped by me **teenage swoon 😛 **. You could tell in the enthusiasm how much he enjoyed the thrill of the competition; he was really flirting with every girl whose hand he took, and though I am not one easily moved to giggle, I did that night. His footwork was absolutely stunning and unlike Evgeni Plushenko who unfortunately was turned into a jumping machine there was so much artistry in his programs. Even when he was not jumping something would catch your attention, a series of footwork that was so crazy complicated, fast and awesome it could make you cry. At least it would move me to tears; it did more than once. He was giving 150% of himself on the ice and he was a delight to watch.
Today I follow the sport less; I watched part of the olympics this year and could not get over the fact that in the men’s competition not one of the athletes who got a medal managed to land all their jumps. Despite the increase in the number of turns they do (quadruple Salko or toe loop) they can’t seem to land them successfully and the artistry is gone. It’s all about the jump and not the intervals, the in-between that make these programs into something beautiful… I found the competition boring at best, absolutely appalling at worst. That’s too bad; I used to enjoy watching a lot…