Wednesday, December 1

"The Unwritten Code in Figure Skating"


With Yu-Na Kim's recent announcement of her 2010/2011 season programs, I've seen plenty of articles popping up stating that former coach Brian Orser broke "the unwritten code in figure skating" by revealing part of her free skate music (to Arirang) in interviews directly following their split. In 2005, I was involved in a debacle of my own when I mentioned Brian Joubert's Olympic-season music choices before he had wanted them to become public. I had no idea it was such a sensitive subject!

So.. I'm curious to know how everyone else feels about this topic: is something as simple as the title of a song really that important to keep secret? On one hand, I see plenty of comments across skating message boards and websites that proclaim a program is either a masterpiece or a complete disaster--- before anyone has even seen said program; the only basis is from the music listing. On the other hand, I don't think a particular piece of music of selection of pieces being announced ahead of schedule does anything in terms of other skaters' own plans, but I suppose I could be wrong.

Sometimes, it just so happens that skaters choose the same music in a season. Michelle Kwan and Irina Slutskaya both chose the same piece of music for their 2006 short programs-- Totentanz by Maksim Mrvica. Of course, Kwan withdrew shortly after arriving to Torino, but she kept the program even though Slutskaya was easily dominating the field earlier in the season. In 2009, Miki Ando and Yukari Nakano both chose selections from Giselle for their free skates. Ando ended up dropping her program half-way through the season, but she really wasn't comfortable with the choreography. Let's not forget Debi Thomas and Katarina Witt both choosing to skate to Carmen for their 1988 free skates. Neither dumped their program, and they were the previous two World Champions (Witt in 1987 and Thomas in 1986) heading in to the Calgary Olympic Games. There have been plenty of other instances of music being shared by top competitors, and revealing it first or not revealing it at all prior to the first competition of the season has done absolutely nothing in terms of helping or hindering a skater. I'm sure there have also been cases (all of which are escaping me at the moment) of skaters choosing the same music in the pre-season only to have one switch it before the fall competitions. But how often does that happen? In the same light, I can't see any skater rushing to choose a certain piece of music just because someone else has already gone public with their choices.

With many skaters taking advantage of social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter these days, I'm sure that they would like to be the first to let people know about the details of their own skating.. completely understandable. But, in the event that the news shows up somewhere else first, is it really the end of the world?

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Superstition? ;-)

Anonymous said...

I don't think it should be a big issue, but since it's important to the skaters, I feel it should be their call when to announce the music.

I'll admit to being a bit curious as to why Florent Amodio's SP was changed - by Morozov? - to the same music Brian Joubert had chosen (his was announced early this year, and not by him).

WayCon said...

I'm not sure that such a revelation is a tragedy, but I've always felt that giving out any information about a skater's program, such as reporting the music or videoing their practices, was, somehow, not the best thing to do; when a skater, coach and choreographer are ready to tell the world, let them do the telling.

Anonymous said...

yeah especially if its ur ex-coach!
not a good move!

Anonymous said...

@Anon 12:50 I don't think Florent's SP choice was changed, afaik he was always planning on using Malguena. It's just an unfortunate coincidence.

Tony said...

I'm also pretty sure that Amodio's short program wasn't "changed" to match Joubert, but rather they both planned to use the same piece. If it's unfortunate for anyone, it's Joubert. I almost wouldn't mind if he came up with a completely new short program that shows off his intensity and potential for excitement like his shorts from the last few years have done (problems with components aside).

Anonymous said...

IMHO, I don't think Orser did it to be petty. I could be wrong.

I remeber when Mukhortova and Trankov told the Russian Feds they wanted to skate to Love Story, the Feds said no, Kavaguti and Smirnov already picked it. So sometimes the cat is let out of the bag not to be mean but it's information that is out there. I don't see what the big deal is.

Anonymous said...

This situation has nothing to do with fear that another skater might have selected the same piece of music. It's not about competitive advantage at all and Yuna being helped or hindered by it; it's about the significance of the music to Yuna and to Korea.

First, this was revealed by her ex-coach who was not given permission to do so. It's the skater's music, it's up to them when they want to tell people about it. Caroline Z. waited until pretty late compared to some other skaters to reveal her music choices, posted on her IceNetwork profile and paired with an Icenetwork interview with Caroline talking about the new season and the background behind the new programs, why she picked it, what it was like working with the choreographers. It gave her fans a chance to hear directly from her about her music and learn why she chose it. Isn't that her right?

As David Wilson himself said in the press release, this is Yuna's "gift" to her people, a gift that should gave been presented from her to them in her own way. Not during an acrimonious split with her coach in the midst of his complaints.

Yuna wanted to reveal her music in a way that says, "This is a gift to Korea." That is why you have David affirming this in the press release. Brian, when he revealed the music, didn't mention any of the significance, other than the program was going to be great. Either Brian didn't know or he didn't care about its meaning, which is why he shouldn't have revealed it. It's like someone working really hard on a big *surprise* party for their friends/family, and then someone else (who is having a fight with that party planner), telling everyone, "Oh yeah, that party is going to be awesome!"