Pairs Ice Dance

When I was growing up, we watched every single figure skating competition that was on television. My mom had been a competitive skater in her youth and so knew a lot about the sport, so we never missed a show.

I kept up the tradition when I moved out on my own, but it’s been at least 10 years now since I watched any skating on TV. Sir Monkeypants considers it the most boring thing EVER. He’d rather watch Cake Boss, for heaven’s sake. So, yeah, not a lot of figure skating in our house.

So last night I watched the Canadians going for gold in the ice dance competition at the Olympics, and I was so surprised to see that ice dancing is so very different now.

(Totally cried when the Canadians won, by the way — it immediately became the 100m dash equivalent for the Winter Games for me.)

When I was young, ice dance was about actual dancing. Even the free dance was expected to have some sort of tie to a waltz or tango or cha cha. The couple were never supposed to be more than six feet away from each other. The man was not allowed to lift the lady above his waist. I don’t remember there being any pairs-style spins and there definitely weren’t any “twizzles” (apparently a critical component of ice dancing now). There weren’t any big tricks and fancy moves.

But rather than being boring, it was always fascinating and incredibly entertaining — my personal favourite of the figure skating events. It was always so original, finding new ways to move, inventive formations and steps, and pushing edge skating to the very, well, edge.

I don’t get this new and “improved” version. I guess it makes it more exciting to have lifts and spins, and there’s more potential for mistakes and falls and DRAMA. But…isn’t it just a little bit too much like pairs skating now? Isn’t it just pairs skating now, without the jumps?

So…I am confused.

But still happy about the medal.

5 thoughts on “Pairs Ice Dance

  1. I cried when they won too, and it was also my 100 m dash 🙂

    I used to figure skate competitively as well, and my mother has been actively involved in figure skating judging as the new system and rules have been applied.

    In ice dancing the first two programs (compulsory and original dance) are very rigid in their rules. They are danced based on specific ballroom dance steps – there is very little room for interpretation.

    The free dance has always been less defined and the skaters must perform five lifts, two dance spins, two different step sequences, and two sets of synchronized twizzles. Twizzles are not new to dance at all – they are in a couple of the compulsory dances – but they are new to being a required element in the free dance (and are technically very difficult).

    I don’t think the free dance is too much like pairs skating now b/c there are still rules on how far apart the skaters must be from one another, there are strict rules on the lifts, and being in unison with everything from the deep edges to all turns and spins and footwork. I think the ice dancers have come a long way in developing more freedom in their sport, to expand on choreography and athleticism and interpret their music to the fullest.

    Sorry you asked yet :)???

    1. I was really hoping you’d leave a comment like this! I needed some insider information.

      I still love the ice dance the best — I find that the limits on what they are allowed to do actually encourages more originality. Every lift and spin was so unique. I love love loved the Canadians’ lift where the man was skating sideways and she was standing on his one leg with one foot. I’m sure you totally know what I mean from *that* description :).

      It is different than it was, though, isn’t it? I remember when Torvill and Dean were big in the ice dance world, and how they created a lot of controversy with their Bolero number because it was so new and different — when it seems tame now. I’ll have to go back and watch it on youtube and compare.

  2. I am a big Torvill and Dean lover and remember that well. My favs were always Tracy Wilson and Rob McCall – followed them religiously at the ’88 Olympics. They really helped pave the way for ice dancing in Canada and I can still hear the music from their bronze medal winning free program. I was devastated when Rob died and cried for days. When I was a little girl his mom coached me in Nova Scotia 🙂 I met him a couple times.

    The 1990 World Championships were in Halifax and my sister and I took a week off school to attend and participate. I met Kurt Browning, Brian Orser, Victor Petrenko, and others. It was amazing.

    Did you watch Joannie last night? Ugh. I bawled my eyes out. I can’t take any more of these emotional Olympics on my psyche 🙂

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