In the midst of all a surprise retirement and triple axel-dancing, a little bit of news almost slipped through the cracks over the past couple of weeks: a new professional figure skating championship is in the works. For six as-yet-unnamed men, anyway (save for Kurt Browning, who is already on board).
Or so I read here at the International Figure Skating website. But I’ve got to admit, I was left with more than a few questions about this Thin Ice, which will air sometime in… um… OK, so that was one of the questions.
One thing I can tell you that’s promising: Terry O’Neil is involved. Nowadays he’s the CEO of O’Neil Productions, Inc… but his involvement with skating goes waaay back. Back to the 1980’s, when he was an executive with CBS Sports and they had the rights to Worlds. Back to the 70’s too, I think, when he was with ABC… and they had the rights to EVERYTHING. I’ve never met him, but I’ve spoken to a few who’ve worked with him, and I think they’d verify that O’Neil loves this sport kind of like we do.
So that’s good. Now, if they could just a few more teeny tiny questions, for my journalist background begs to know:
WHO? It’s been so long since a pro competition occurred, I honestly don’t know who they’ll tap. Maybe we should handicap the possibilities if they don’t have a cast list by the next time I post…
WHAT? It’s billed as following the format “popularized by television shows such as American Idol and Dancing With the Stars” (with one skater voted out at a time), but it’s not clear how that can truly be the case… unless it airs somewhere live, 5 nights in a row. Even in pro skating’s craziest years I don’t think that would have happened.
WHERE? WHEN? As in, what network? How long after it tapes? Can we expect to see something over the holidays, or will it get buried later in January? It concerns me that this wasn’t mentioned in the release either. I wonder how long it took them to secure the rights for Skating with Celebrities on FOX back in 2006…
WHY? Why no women—is it because there aren’t enough moderately “current”, active, healthy, willing female skaters calling themselves pro these days? Why so little notice—did they want to wait until some NAMES had signed on (in addition to Browning they have Dick Button and Katarina Witt as judges, and Shae-Lynn Bourne as the show’s choreographer)?
And, WHY can’t I get anything more than a cautiously optimistic feeling about this whole endeavor? Maybe it’s because the last time someone tried something like this (ABC), with amateurs, in the fall of 2005 and 2006, it quickly became known as the “Cheesefest in Boston”. And like all other skating on ABC/ESPN, it’s disappeared. (Here’s a Clip of the Day to remind you of it, though.)
Let’s hope Thin Ice doesn’t meet the same fate, particularly before it even airs. I’ll keep you posted if I hear any new developments.
P.S. In case you missed it below… we have a winner on my trivia question from last week! Aaron correctly guessed Michael Jackson as the mega-celebrity who is a mere one day apart, birth-wise, from Scott Hamilton. I congratulate Aaron—but am still not sure if I should congratulate Scott…