Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Another perspective on figure skating

I've been talking about figure skating in my various blogs since the last Olympics, and you can probably tell that Bob Costas is at the bottom of my Olympic list and Kiira Korpi is near the top. (She's still not my favorite Finnish figure skater, though.)

There was a discussion of figure skating in general, and Kiira Korpi in particular, at Keith Law's "The Dish". After reading the post, I'm not quite sure what "the dish" means. Let's start with his comments on scoring.

The Grand Prix comprises six events, one held each weekend for six weeks, to qualify skaters for a seventh event, the Grand Prix final, which moves every year. The six qualifying events are held in the U.S. (“Skate America”), Russia (“Cup of Russia”), China (“Cup of China” – aren’t we so fucking clever), France (named after some French guy), Japan (“NHK Trophy”), and Canada (I forget). There was a German competition until 2003 when the ISU realized that the Germans sucked at figure skating. The Germans should stick to things they’re good at, like killing bloggers. (Or beer. They’d probably rather be known for beer.) Anyway, that’s when the Cup of China started up, although judging by all the empty seats, I’m going to say that figure skating has not quite grabbed the interest of the Chinese public yet....

So each skater or pair of skaters enters two of the six events, and after all six are held, the ISU looks at the combined points totals (not the actual scores) of all skaters (or pairs) and chooses the top six in each category – men’s, women’s, pairs, and “ice dancing” – not making this up, people – to go to the finals. The winner at each competition gets 15 points. As far as I can tell, the runner-up gets 13, the bronze medalist gets 11, but then at some point the points stop dropping by two for each spot and drop by one....No one actually explained this in any of the telecasts, and you can’t tell at any point who’s leading or who has already qualified; if you’ve got 28 points already, you’re in the finals, but I never saw any standings or heard any indication of who had how many points. Then there’s the actual scoring of skating, which is never explained and seems to me to be purposefully obtuse so that casual fans can’t obviously spot official corruption, as they did in the last Winter Olympics (prompting a big overhaul of the scoring system).

But then Law found something of interest.

Other than Belben, who is definitely good-looking, the hottest skater in any of the three events I was forced to endure was Finnish skater Kiira Korpi, who’s just 19 but has a great figure and is pretty in that sort of generic-Nordic-blonde way. (Nothing wrong with that.). Sadly, she’s not that good, finishing in 16th in the last Olympics and finishing well out of the money in the two Grand Prix events in which she skater. (To be fair, she suffered from a “stomach ailment” all summer, so she may not be on her game right now. Still looks hot, though.) But she identified, for me, the real reason for the lack of sex appeal at these events: There are no Swedes. Or, for that matter, no Danes, Norwegians, or even Icelandic skaters.

Ironically, figure skating isn't even all that big in Finland, compared to hockey, yet Finland has several good female figure skaters. Here's Laura Lepisto:

And no, she isn't my favorite Finnish figure skater either.

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