While we breathe through this little calm before the storm of events to come in the next month or so (Canadian Nationals… Euros… U.S. Nationals… 4CCs), I thought I’d take the lead provided by a certain Spielberg film that’s in theaters right now (and probably to score some Oscar nods, as I hear it) and talk a little about something that’s near and dear to the heart of any skating fan… the WAR HORSE. Also known as “music used for figure skating programs over and over and over again.”
Quick, can you think of 10 “war horses?”
Here’s the list I came up with, pretty much off the top of my head (along with a couple examples of recent uses):
Almost too easy, but hey, it’s what came to mind first. Currently being used by, among (surely) others… Brandon Mroz.
West Side Story
Ironically, can’t think of anyone prominent that’s using it this year. But I know a U.S. ice dance team skated it for their FD last season, and of course Akiko Suzuki used it with impressive results back in the 2009-10 season.
Concierto de Aranjuez
I never, never remember how to spell this properly, let alone pronounce it. But this majestic, guitar-fueled composition certainly appears to be in vogue over the past few years—especially in Canada, where Joannie Rochette used it in the 2008-9 season… and both Patrick Chan and the pair of Duhamel/Radford are using it currently.
Phantom of the Opera
Andrew Lloyd Webber’s music in general is certainly no stranger to figure skating, but there seems a certain soft spot for this 1986 Broadway smash hit. Elene Gedevanishvili has used it for her FS the past two years; Patrick Chan worked it for two years as well (2009-11). And of course Davis/White had pretty fine results with it during their 2009-10 Olympic season.
Romeo & Juliet (any version)
My gut reaction to naming this was which composition? The Tchaikovsky version, the Prokofiev, the Rota (from the 1968 film), or the 1995 “modern-day” film soundtrack? Almost all of them get equal use (though the ’95 ST is winning increasing favor); Adam Rippon’s SP from last season was an example of employing the Tchaikovsky version, while Yuzuru Hanyu’s current FS is among those using the modern version. But one thing’s for sure: if a piece of literature has been interpreted musically in so many well-known ways… and ALL those ways are embraced by figure skating… it’s gotta be a war horse.
It’s a soundtrack from a 1986 film, and like Phantom, it’s been popular on the ice ever since… though when Matt Savoie went to the 2006 Olympics with it, funny how some of the very cuts he used keep turning up in other programs every single year. Last year it became perhaps best known as Miki Ando’s second SP (the one she debuted at the GP Final), and you might hear it again at U.S.Nationals as perennial competitor Wesley Campbell is using it for his FS (complete with a Savoie-esque tunic top, I couldn’t help but notice when I watched Campbell at Sectionals).
"Sing Sing Sing"
The ultimate upbeat, big-band ditty that’s been rocked annually for years, usually in short programs. Four that spring to mind: Jeffrey Buttle (2005-6 season), Rachael Flatt (2009-10), Zhang/Zhang (also 2009-10, though it wasn’t working for them and they changed it by Olympics time), and, currently, Jeremy Abbott.
Also a tough one to spell, although I think I’m getting better at nailing it on the first try! John Curry did a definitive interpretation of this in his pro years, but Evan Lysacek’s use of it in Vancouver 2010 is probably remembered best for the younger fans. Though very different cuts have been chosen, Mao Asada is currently using it in her SP.
Whether it’s the soaring melodic part that Domnina/Shabalin used to their advantage in the 2008-9 season, or the more frenetic part that Ashley Wagner skated so effectively that same year, Spartacus seems to have that something-for-everyone appeal. It’s currently being used by Mirai Nagasu for her free skate.
Turnadot is the opera; “Nessum Dorma” is the popular aria from said opera. And one or both of these turn up year after year in the rink. Evora/Ladwig, the U.S. pair, used ND all last season… and coincidental or not, Denney/Coughlin have been using a Jeff Beck version of the same thing all THIS season.
So… which war horses—be they on this list or otherwise— still make you genuinely smile each time you see a skater using them? And which ones are you dying to be put out to pasture? Please leave a comment!