I'll almost certainly be writing something about figure skating during the Winter Olympics, so hopefully this will help to explain just why I love this sport so much. One of the reasons why figure skating is basically the only sport I'm interested in is because the narrative of each competitor is such an integral part of the entertainment experience, even moreso than other solo sports like tennis. I mean, obviously I love to watch it as a sport and as an art form, but it also has unbeatable levels of melodrama, feuding, and scandal. (And, needless to say, the costumes are fantastic.) In this article, I touch on the basics: things to watch out for at Sochi, the strange nature of institutionalised homophobia in the figure skating establishment, recent controversies, and more.
When you get right down to it, sports fan culture and online fandom are pretty similar. After all, is it really any less nerdy to blog obsessively about baseball stats, as opposed to collecting comic books or cataloging all of the gay subtext in Teen Wolf?
Yet oddly enough, the two types of fandom rarely overlap. Out of the hundred million or so people who watched the Super Bowl, pretty much none of them sat down to draw some Seahawks fan art afterwards.
Figure skating is one of the very few exceptions to online fandom’s geek/jock divide. Basically, if your tastes run more to Sherlock and Supernatural than snowboarding and ski jumping, then figure skating is the one sport at the Sochi Olympics that you might actually find interesting.
Drama, drama, dramaWhile most sports do thrive on media narratives, from underdog comebacks to epic struggles between rival teams, figure skating is more familiar with what can only be described as “drama.”
In the ‘90s, Olympic skater Tonya Harding was embroiled in a scandal when her ex-husband hired a hitman to kneecap her competition, Nancy Kerrigan. Then in 2002, the entire judging system had to be revamped after an Olympic official was bribed to give a pair of Russian skaters the gold medal over the Canadian favorites. But it was the 2010 Olympics that turned figure skating drama into an online fanfic phenomenon, and that was mostly thanks to the rivalry between Johnny Weir and Evan Lysacek...