NOTE: Photos are now added! See bottom of post...
I’d never attended the World Figure Skating Championships prior to this year. Or 4CC, or U.S. Nationals, or Skate America, or any of the off-season events like Skate Detroit or the Liberty Open. I’ve been to competitions, yes—the regional kind; the kind I used to do when I was a fraction of the age I am now. But nothing in the Big Leagues.
I only sat in the stands for one event, as you might recall—the now-infamous Men’s Final—but what an event!
First, a few “well, DUH” moments I must acknowledge...
1) As I roamed around looking for a way to the upper bowl (a.k.a. “cheap seats”), I caught sight of in-house monitors showing the live action—Viktor Romanenkov of Estonia (third skater in the first group) was on the ice—and I was struck by the quality of the video feed, which was surely in HD (something we don’t have on our TVs at home yet). A part of me wanted to stand there and marvel at how “live” it looked; another part of me practically had to remind “the rest” that it would look even better once I found my seat... (Oh yeah, I’m actually HERE. Well, duh.)
2) Part of my interest in lingering near the monitors had to do with a slight concern that I wouldn’t be able to see the skaters all that well from the “cheap seats” (which ran $200 apiece, in case you were wondering), and would be watching most of the action off the Jumbotron anyway. Not so! As you can see from these photos—taken from my perch up in Sec. 310, Row L—it was quite easy to tell at a glance who was skating, especially if you were already used to their current look. But to be fair,
is a relatively small venue with only 7000 seats. The in Staples
Angeles—home to the 2009 Worlds—seats more than twice
Oh, and irony alert... the Jumbotron was by and large blocked from my view, thanks to a series of flags suspended from the rafters.
3) I thought the crowds at the Men’s Final would be light for the first couple of groups—wrong! I got there a wee bit late (midway through group 1 as I mentioned), and would say the stands were 85 to 90% full already. I’d have been there from the beginning myself, had I been in the vicinity at that point! (Instead I was just zooming into the outskirts of
fresh from an 8-hour northeastern drive.)
4) No disrespect intended to the outstanding athletes that currently represent men’s figure skating, but... I thought they looked slow out there. One of the things I’ve heard about seeing it live is that you get a better appreciation for their speed; that TV cameras just can’t capture it the same way. While I’ve no doubt this is true, the bird’s eye view that I had surely didn’t help reinforce it. I’m guessing it’s a different story down on the main floor?
5) Sitting in the stands didn’t stop me from taking my regular ream of notes as each skater took the ice. It DID, however, stop me from eating anything that vaguely resembled dinner. I managed on a protein bar and a half-bag of Resse’s Pieces, avoiding the endless concession lines during the Zamboni break (finding a bathroom without an endless line was becoming more important, anyway). Plan “B” was to try and hit concessions immediately after Takahito Mura’s FS ended, as he was the last in the penultimate group... but by then the pizza slices and other dinner items were sold out. I settled for a “small” (you know it wasn’t very small, right?) popcorn and tried to avoid eating the whole thing. Was successful until around as I continued to catch up on Twitter in my hotel room (still wide awake of course).
6) Oh, and as for “celebrity” sightings... just a little peek of the CBC set (featuring Kurt Browning and Tracy Wilson, I think?), a little bit of dashing around by Canadian competitor and 13th place finisher Andrei Rogozine (seen AFTER he competed, of course), and Toller Cranston. Yup, as you may have heard
is now the official artist for Skate Canada...
which led to him having a mini-gallery on-site... though only after I’d walked
past him and noticed the hat (might be the same one he’s wearing in this London Free Press article) did I think hey, wow, that’s Toller
Which does a terrible disservice to his exciting artwork... but there you go.
As for the Chanflation Controversy which ended up defining the night... I already posted my next-day reaction to Being There For It All. As for my other observations while I milled around that weekend, getting my dance and ladies’ finals fixes wherever I could... I’ll post more if y’all are interested, so let me know! For now, we are just a smattering of dozens of hours away from THE final event of this 2012-13 figure skating season—it’s time to move on before the World Team Trophy runs us over!!
P.S. Here's a great guide from Jackie Wong of The Examiner to help keep tabs on WTT, which will also be streamed by the ISU for free (as it was last year).
FROM THE MEN'S FINAL (my personal photos):
FROM THE MEN'S FINAL (my personal photos):
|Misha Ge... Hip-Hop Chaplin|
|My view of the final flight warm-up|
|Denis Ten, ready to kiss the ice after his FS|
|Javi Fernandez w/Spanish flag after medals|