I have something to confess: I’m obsessed with figure skating

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It was 1987. The Canadian national team was on tour and actually coming to St. John’s, Newfoundland. All I wanted was to see Brian Orser do a backflip in person, because I’d seen him do it on TV. So, despite the bitter cold, my mother took me to Memorial Stadium and thus began my figure skating obsession.

Fast forward 27 years. I’ve lost track of how many Stars on Ice shows I’ve been to and how many backflips I’ve seen. I’ve attended Grand Prix events, national and world championships and, of course, the Olympic Winter Games. I don’t want to know how many hours I’ve spent watching the sport on TV.

This weekend I will be adding to that unknown total, with Skate Canada International on TSN and CTV. It’s not a weekend for house cleaning and grocery shopping. Instead, I will be glued to my couch, thankful for awesome long distance plans that let me watch it all with my equally-obsessed sister on the phone.

But how do you know if you’re a passionate figure skating fan? Well, you’ve probably done more than one of the following:


1)      You hear a piece of music and can immediately identify someone who skated to it and when.

This isn’t so hard with some of the more overused selections, such as Carmen, Swan Lake or Samson and Delilah. But I will never again hear Pink Floyd’s “The Great Gig in the Sky” or “Money” and not be able to think of Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir at the 2009 World Championships while remembering what choreography went with what sections of music.

2)      You watch a movie and are more fascinated by the score than the dialogue, envisioning the possibilities for a program.

On my return flight from Sochi I watched the 2013 version of Romeo & Juliet. I quite enjoyed the movie, but could not stop hoping that someone would choose the Abel Korzeniowski score for this season. Lo and behold, while watching Skate America on Sunday I immediately stopped talking to my sister when I noticed what South Korean Park So Youn was skating to. Now I just have to find the free dance of American ice dancers Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker…

3)      You were introduced to a classic movie because someone skated to the score.

I fully admit that I was inspired to watch both Casablanca and Singin’ in the Rain only after seeing Kurt Browning’s incredibly choreographed programs. The latter has become one of my all-time favourite movies, so thanks Kurt!

4)      You’re glad that after the world championships in March, you only have to get through less than three months before the fall Grand Prix assignments are released and the seasonal cycle starts again.

My sister and I always eagerly anticipate the end of June. Once the event rosters come out, the debate begins about the most exciting match-ups and the toughest fields. You may as well talk to the hand if you try to tell me that the Grand Prix Series won’t start for another four months. Luckily, the time is filled by leaked info about program music and summer competition webcasts.

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5)      You had hundreds of VHS tapes containing every competition or show ever broadcast in your lifetime.

Thank goodness for the digital age! Now I just have to go to YouTube to find pretty much any program I want. Of course, that can lead to many lost hours when you fall into a binge of your favourites. (I didn’t mean to watch every Bourne and Kraatz free dance in chronological order. Really. Okay, maybe I did.)

6)      You learned the ins-and-outs of the ISU Judging System when it was launched in 2004-05 and even carried a copy of the rules/code of points with you to a competition.

Been there, done that. Our fellow spectators at Skate Canada in Halifax were quite grateful for our ability to explain what was going on with the scoring. Even now, when a competition is done I immediately refresh and refresh the results webpage waiting for the detailed judges’ scores to appear so I can fully dissect who earned what marks on what elements.

7)      You get EXTREMELY nervous when your favourite skater is competing and can exhibit strange behaviour.

My sister will never let me forget that time I threw Cheezies at the TV when Kurt Browning was about to perform at the 1992 World Championships. And I provided no small amount of amusement to a colleague with my hyperventilation during Patrick Chan’s short program in Sochi. Once he was finished, I resumed my professionalism.

8)      You choreograph routines in your living room, including all of the proper edge entries to jumps, after having selected that perfect piece of music.  

In the late 1990s, the Apollo 13 score was my go-to. I still don’t think it’s been used enough (Paul Wylie notwithstanding).

9)      You’ve set an alarm for very early in the a.m. to watch a livestream of an overseas event.

Hey, at least we have the option these days to watch pretty much every international competition, even if it is on a small screen that is constantly buffering and the commentary is in Russian.

10)   You’re a daily visitor to a forum that has all the latest news, never tires of old rivalries and has its own secret language.

Hi FSUniverse! I know where to go for the skating headlines du jour. I can also manage the near-daily debates on Kwan vs Lipinski, Mao vs Yuna or Yagudin vs Plushenko. And I totally understand what is meant by “OES” or “voidy”, even if I can’t quite define it.

Yes, my name is Paula and I am a figure skating fan(atic).