So... I watched yoi, then ended upon youtube binging on figure skating videos. Do you have advice on how to start following this amazing sport? Like, when are the first competitions coming up? Is there anything really important I should know (like, in a figure skating sub culture)?
Your timing couldn’t be more perfect! I have been thinking about doing an intro for new figure skating fans for a while… I know a ton of posts like this exist already, but one more doesn’t hurt, right?
Let’s do this! *rolls up sleeves*
(By the way, if any other skating fans spot any mistakes, please let me know so I can correct them.)
“Watching IRL Faceplants!!! on ICE” 101 for Yuri on Ice fans! (And any other newbies)
First of all, I advise you to follow the wonderful, sent-by-the-gods blog @soyouwanttowatchfs . As the name suggests, they share information on watching and following competitive figure skating, introductions to skating rules, schedules, streaming info, etc. I’m going to reference them a lot here!
The team is also super helpful and answer questions, though make sure that what you’re asking about isn’t already explained in their guides or FAQ. Right now, it’s smack in the middle of the competitive season and they tend to get a metric ton of asks.
There is also an affiliated blog, @soyouwanttolearnfs , for those looking to start skating yourselves — competitively or just for fun and exercise!
I’m not going to cover basic skating rules because YOI already does that, but if you’re curious about more details, there are always the handy intro guides linked above. I’m going to quickly talk about the other skating disciplines, the competitive season, how to watch competitions and how to dip your feet into the fandom. Also look out for the skaters in the funny gifs: they’re worth following closely!
Game Mode: Single-Player or Co-op?
There are four main competitive disciplines in figure skating:
- Men’s singles: covered extensively in the anime.
- Ladies’ singles: yes, ladies’, not women’s. Antiquated gender norms, I guess.
- Pairs: two skaters (per ISU rules, specifically a man and a woman. Antiquated couple norms, I guess) performing together. Includes jumps in unison, lifts, throws, death spirals, and other elements that give me mini cardiac arrests.
- Ice Dance: like pairs, but obligatorily dancing to the beat of the music and not the melody/words. Also does not include jumps, throws and death spirals (for which my heart is thankful).
There is also the always-forgotten synchronized skating. Think synchronized swimming, but the water is frozen and people wear knife-shoes. It’s not an Olympic discipline, but there are major ISU competitions for it.
*Awkward segue* …the much talked-about ISU is the International Skating Union, by the way. They make much of the rules. Expect to see a lot of people cursing them!
(Right to left: Shoma Uno and Yuzuru Hanyu admiring the plastic Marseille GPF medals. If you look closely, you can catch a glimpse of the superhuman cryptid Nathan Chen.)
The McFreaking Competitive Season
Figure skating seasons take place around the northern hemisphere winter months (for obvious reasons), roughly from August to April. In terms of major competitions, the typical season looks like this (courtesy of this post):
- Oct/Nov: the YOI-famous Grand Prix series (GP series), consisting of Skate America, Skate Canada, Rostelecom Cup, Trophée de France, Cup of China, and the NHK Trophy. They are invitational.
- Early Dec: the Grand Prix Final (GPF), which caps off the GP series (and the first half of the season) by pitting the top 6 skaters/pairs of each discipline against each other.
- Late Dec/Jan: the national championships (Nats) of each country, which is one of the top factors that determines which skaters will represent the country in international competitions. The ones that get the most attention are Japan, Russia, US and Canada.
- Late Jan: the European Championships (Euros), consisting unsurprisingly of European skaters (including Russians).
- Feb: the Four Continents Championships (4CC), consisting of skaters from, well, the remaining four continents.
- March/early April: the World Championship (Worlds). Pretty self-explanatory. Also marks the end of the season.
Now, despite YOI making such a big deal of the GPF, it’s only the third most prestigious competition. The second is Worlds, and once every four years, the Winter Olympic Games take place and a general bloodbath ensues.
If you’re lucky enough to live in a country that actually gets some low temperatures (unlike me *ugly sobbing*), search around to see if there are local skaters and competitions you can follow. If you’re lucky, they might appear on local/national TV, and if you’re extra extra lucky, you could nab tickets to watch them in person!
So, when I say you arrived just in time, I mean that nationals have just ended, the European Championships are about to begin (25-29 Jan) (click for schedule + streaming info) and 4CC is on the horizon! We’ll be having a lot of fun over the next few weeks!
[Information on how to actually watch this nightmare and engage with the skating
fam fandom below the cut]