Men’s Figure Skating: Beauty vs. Math
There’s an interesting piece in Salon that asks professional dancers to give their opinions and impressions about figure skating. Not surprisingly, they say the same thing that everyone says about skating: that the beauty of the skaters’ performances bears little relation to the points they earn.
It’s an inevitable dilemma when you put dance and sport together, because there’s simply no way to quantify dance. In the men’s short program finals, Takahiko Kozuka‘s exuberant connection with the music and Johnny Weir’s grace and panache get them screaming ovations from the crowd, but earn lower scores than Victor Pleshenko’s jump-flail-jump approach.
At least the new scoring system makes this clearer than before. In the past it seemed that judges would give “artistic merit” points, or whatever they were called, willy nilly. Now I guess they don’t give them at all, which is probably best.
So why do skaters continue to throw their hearts and souls into skating as a thing of beauty? Is it because they’ll need to find work as entertainers after their competitive careers are over? Or is it that they simply can’t help it?