My opinion is that if skaters both former and current want to promote the heck out of their themselves/their brand on social media, they should totally go for it. I think it’s really stupid when fans call out skaters for doing that and say things like, “Something’s really off about them and the way they always promote themselves,” or “It’s so fishy the way they always promote themselves and/or endorsements on social media,” etc.
First of all, it’s called an endorsement for a reason, and second, skating costs a lot and does not allow much time for educational pursuits/endeavors. If promoting themselves helps skaters gain a wider audience and secure their skating careers AND futures, judgmental fans can just go and f*ck right off.
Like, if Tessa Virtue wants to run her own fashion empire one day, or if Maia Shibutani wants to be Diva Queen M and reign supreme over the As-Am community and eventually all of America, or if Andrew Poje of #TeamSupermodel wants to smoke the shit out of all of us with his beauty by doing more photoshoots, or if Patrick Chan just wants to sell some ice wine to pay for his Uniqlo shirts, or if Tarah Kayne hopes to find great success as a YouTube makeup guru, or if Madi Chock wants to do whatever the hell she wants and look damn good doing it, then HELL YEAH!
Bring on the endorsement money and attention!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! MAKE IT RAIN, DAMMIT!
Here I was, on March 30th, in my hometown Riga with bus and ferry tickets and most importantly - tickets to Ladies practice and Short Dance in my pocket. I could not believe I was going to Worlds after many years of living and breathing figure skating. This was a dream of mine that I thought would never come to life. It felt so surreal I had to pinch myself a few times. 😅
When me and my mom made it to the arena at 8 AM on March 31st, it was so difficult to hold back tears ( i am literally tearing up as i’m writing this 😂). Watching figure skating has been one of the biggest parts of my life for five (!!!) years now and I don’t think I can put my feelings towards it in just some sentences. It is better than all the movies because it’s the real life - but with the spectrum of emotions I only get to see in the cinema. It doesn’t only show “the movie” (aka the performance) but also every behind the scenes action (like the emotions before and after the performance, the training process, the challenges along the way) which makes it so much more interesting. So when I walked in the arena it felt like a dream come true. They didn’t have doors heading to each sector, but a curtain instead (to not make a sound every time someone enters or exits) and because it was the practice time for Ladies the curtains weren’t closed but fully open instead. So even when I had just come in the arena, I could already see a glimpse of the ice rink which felt so surreal and that was the first time it hit me so hard that I was actually really here - at the World Championships.
It felt fantastic to see stars like Ashley Wagner, Kaetlyn Osmond, Gabrielle Daleman, Evgenia Medvedeva, Anna Pogorilaya and Carolina Kostner skate so close to me (we were seated really close to the ice), to see their determined faces and to live through their great performances. Incomparably mesmerizing.
Before the short dance there was some time to kill so we just walked around and enjoyed the atmosphere which is SO unique! There is this buzzing feeling which makes you feel warm and welcomed and everyone looks nervously excited. We walked through every booth/shop there was, I even got some beautiful postcards from John Wilson Blades booth (they were handing them out for free?! 😧) with Ashley, Patrick, the Shibs and Chock/Bates. There I met a lovely French fan and we had a brief talk about our journeys as fans and let me add that it feels so weird to actually talk with someone about figure skating after you’ve mostly only shared your opinions online and have never had a legit conversation live??! 😂
Then it was the time for the short dance (oh my, hearing the ISU fanfare live was hands down the best experience ever 😂😂😂) . I have been a massive ice dance fan since forever and I am a big supporter of Tessa&Scott. They are the main reason I was actually here - I can’t put into words what they’ve done to me in these past years - they have held me up every time I felt down in various ways - with their performances, life stories or just small interviews. I just wanted to give back to them a little with my heartfelt support. However, I joined the V/M fandom in 2012 when everyone was furious about D/W and their success (which would happen in 2013 and 2014) and I quickly learned to be as bitter as everyone else. It feels sad to look back now and think that we used so much time to just talk about Meryl and Charlie - more than about great things of Tessa and Scott. I only understood this after T&S took a break after 2014 and I just became this casual ice dance fan who wanted to see the best in everyone and was listening to everyone’s stories of ups and downs. It was the same fantastic atmosphere - just without all the rage. During this period of time I really fell in love with Kaitlyn&Andrew, Maia&Alex and Gabriella&Guillaume. When Tessa&Scott came back I couldn’t believe how great I felt during the season - it was now 100 times more exciting as I had so many couples I loved and supported throughout (…well, i did love t&s a little more than anyone else though 😆) . And you have NO idea how much I loved the theme of this years SD. SOOOO much spunk and sass! I hope you don’t mind me saying that pretty much all of these were the best short dances I have ever seen from the top teams.
First of all, let me say a word about the atmosphere live. It is absolutely incomparable to the TV. The audience noises are lowered for about ten thousand times and are almost inaudible in the TV which is the biggest change. The ovations are so impressive you can’t believe them at first. Second of all, the skating skills and the speed is insane live. And thirdly of all, the costumes look SO. MUCH. DIFFERENT. (they are much more sparkly and colorful 😍✨).
I was actually worried that I might not last for seven freaking groups but the time went so fast. I still can’t believe the zamboni breaks. I swear to god they didn’t last more than five minutes 😅 (I always get cranky during the resurfacing breaks when I watch TV - feels like hours). From the first four groups couples that stood out for me the most were Smart/Diaz, Kaliszek/Spodyriev and Lauriault/Le Gac - they all had great stage presence and superb feel to the music.
Then the fifth group came. All of a sudden Tessa and Scott were on the ice and I was like one of these crazy Bieber fans who can’t stop their tears. I tried my hardest to bring the tears back but I miserably failed (I had promised myself that I would act NORMALLY NOT START CRYING ON MY FIRST OPPORTUNITY I AM SO WEIRDED OUT OF THE SUDDEN EMOTIONS THAT CAME OUTSIDE IN THAT MOMENT - I am a very reserved person who always puts herself together 😂). Tessa’s costume is SO much more beautiful live. I wasn’t a fan of it when I first saw it but DAMN she looked hot. Also the golden sparkles around the cutouts on the pants are basically not seen at all in the usual professional pics but they were actually unbelievably shiny. And Scott just has this amazing aura around himself. He seemed to ooze confidence but also some sort of humbleness. And OMG - they’re fast. But the thing that struck me the most was the non-touching step sequence. They did it once in the warm up and I legit thought it was some “easy version of this sequence without the hard steps just to get warmed up” and you can’t imagine how surprised I was when they performed it in the actual dance. It WAS the sequence. I swear it looked like anyone could do it. So light and easy. Now THAT was the moment I understood how superior they actually are. Everybody else’s StSq looked, you know, like a StSq should look like - a hard element hard to execute (don’t get me wrong - they were mostly done beautifully but it was visible that this is a hard element - which it is 😆). After the warm up ended I was probably still in shock so I have no recollection of the first two pairs in that group. Sorry. 😁 Then they came up on ice for a short warm up again while the previous teams scores were announced. And this includes the moment I think nobody has caught on camera (I don’t think I have seen any pre-sd videos at all which is such a shame). They were just gliding on ice separately with Tessa slightly in front of Scott. Then they started to slow down because they were coming to Marie France. And while they’re slowing down, Scott skates right in front of me with the biggest grin ever and his lovey-dovey eyes focused on Tessa’s back slightly in front of him. And that is the moment I calm down. His eyes bring the sense to me that everything is going to be okay and he is confident about it (i swear to god he’s a magician or whatever but that look was SO calming and surreal). And Tessa just turns her head, looks at his face and literally rolls her eyes with a smile on her face (okay i might’ve imagined the eye rolling but you all know that face when tessa looks at scott and thinks ‘god you’re such an idiot i love you’) and then they’re already with Marie France with last words before performance. The actual performance was unreal. They did their beginning moves right in front of me and that was SO sharp. Also when they did these moves there were quite few “eeeaaaww” kind of shouts or whatever the Michael Jackson kind of short screams sound. That was superb and I’m so sad NONE of them are audible during the actual recording. It gave a great atmosphere. Scott did the kneeling thing right before the end of the first section right in front of me which left such an impact. SOO much control. The blues sequence was hella smooth (and twizzles were ok but i was so scared about them) BUT THE LIFT. THE STADIUM FREAKING ERUPTED DURING THE LIFT. I felt as if I had wings and had been accepted into paradise. And then it ended and I was on my feet and there was an ocean of tears (whoops😅). It was an experience I will never forget.
Then it was time for Group number 6. I have to be honest - I was a little disappointed with Stepanova/Bukin. I’ve been a huge fan of their SD but seeing it live was a little bit underwhelming. It’s the way of skating - they skate “small”. However I still loved the choreography and their chemistry is certainly the best in the younger ice dancers field. If they can improve their skating skills, I’m completely on board.
Piper and Paul were a huge surprise for me. Even when they were warming up with everyone else, you could feel their presence the most. And let me just say this - Canadian men are superior dancers. Scott, Paul and Andrew all felt a bit similar to me. They makes themselves look extremely confident (i mean their skating skills also are 😍) and they lead their ladies better than anyone else - it just feels extremely natural. So, back to Piper&Paul. This was a huge hit in the arena (and for me!). The feeling was great throughout the performance and I just want to say it one more time - the skating skills (piper has improved so much)!! the twizzles! they took my breath. I have to admit I didn’t think this dance would actually work for me but it did.
Another team which surprised me in a good way were Bobrova&Soloviev. As the season progressed, I always felt as this program was a little “pushed”. They tried to bring the sass, but instead it came off as a vulgarity. However the forms they create on ice are very clean and blade work is beautiful so I was actually scratching my head after watching these two because I’ve never really liked them but somehow they look better live (I just don’t understand why?)
I was also delighted by Anna&Luca’s performance. That dress looked even more beautiful live and they also made me like them more than on TV. They just draw you in and you can’t do anything about it. I just wish they would be more versatile (but i still love them!)
The seventh group started with the Shibs who I think had the very close second short dance choreography-and-idea-wise behind T&S. I’ve absolutely adored this dance all the times this season and this was no exception. That lift was badass and man, those twizzles… I didn’t think that was going to leave such a big impact on me. SO sharp in every movement. Alex just needs improve his facial expressions a bit and then they’d be even more perfect (also maia is a literal goddess).
I have to say my sentimental favorites of the night were Kaitlyn&Andrew. Their skating on TV looks a bit like Stepanova/Bukin’s so I was a little bit worried that it would fall flat. It was the DIRECT opposite. I think their skating skills were second only to VM that night because damn, they skated with so much speed. And their chemistry just went sky high. Also that lift made the arena erupt (again😂). It looked so much more powerful than on TV. The move where Andrew just rolls Kaitlyn on his back was hands down one of the coolest of the night. I was just so happy to see them perform the best they can after some disappointing starts. It was truly wonderful and after they finished I was standing and in tears again. I thought they were terribly underscored, but oh well, #twizzles. (they are both also incredibly hot 😏🔥)
Gabriella&Guillaume were also amazing live. I loved that they did the most program to the blues music which I truly respect because it is so much harder to keep an audience interested with blues than with hip hop. But the slow section was amazing - the attention to details and the blade work was soooo smooth. I’ve got to say although Guillaume’s skating skills and dance moves are through the roof fantastic, he doesn’t “lead” his partner that well - the Canadian guys do it so much better. I don’t think he has any rivals in the “best male ice dancer by himself” category, but he has a lot to learn to be the best in the “best male partner in ice dance” nomination - he isn’t the full package yet. However I’m a big fan of hard work and dedication (and I’m sad people only appreciate Guillaume’s because he is the more gifted one) so I’m a big fan of Gabi, her personality and facial expressions during the performance. She sells everything better than Guillaume but I don’t think she’s being recognized enough for that.
Madi&Zach also surprised me live by looking far more polished than on TV. The movements were sharp and they’ve got this weirdly different blade quality compared to others that I can’t explain (but i liked it). I certainly was a bit cringey about the music at the beginning of the season, but I’ve got to say that crowd really appreciated it and I was also on board. I smiled so hard when the scores came up because I absolutely love it when underdogs show everyone what they’re capable of.
Last up were Madi&Evan and this unfortunately turned out the same way I felt about Stepanova/Bukin. I had also been a big fan of this SD all season but their way of skating didn’t seem to impress me. I had also liked how Evan just tossed around Madi various times in the program but live it just seemed a little too much? BUT I totally respect that they have worked so much with their chemistry because it was nonexistent some years ago but now they just scream the word “FIIIIREEEEEE”. 😉
Afterwards there were about a hundred of people making a crowd close to the door which skaters entered to go to the draw for the FD. Well, I think it’s not a very good way to get a skaters autograph. They are very tired after the competition and it’s not even over - there’s still the FD so they got to keep focused. I think a moment between a skater and a fan should be much more personal than just blocking an entrance just to get your autograph. I don’t know, it just made me a little uncomfortable when everyone was waiting for them just to come like they’re some sort of zoo animals or whatever. I didn’t want any autographs or anything, it was just SO hard to get through the far-too-excited crowd (to the exit of the arena) I decided to wait until they go away. I didn’t even register that I was standing right after the entrance to the draw (where it wasn’t crowded at all, in fact I was like the only person there) and the wall was from glass so you could see the skaters after they entered the “closed zone”. And then I turned my head and saw FREAKING TESSA AND SCOTT in the closed zone. About a meter from me there was this crazy crowd waiting for skaters and turning their heads in the other direction while I was enjoying my view of Tessa and Scott having a conversation. 😄 They were kind of afar from me though and I was trying my best not to stare ('they are not animals and it is rude to do that’ I muttered to myself) - I don’t think they even saw me because they looked completely in ease as the glass wall separated them from everyone. Then they left further for the draw and I couldn’t see them anymore. Tessa&Scott were already in the closed zone because they skated early but the skaters from the last group still had to come. I’ve got to say it was a bit sad to see the guards having a hard time taking the skaters from the crowd to the closed zone. People went crazy every time someone came. But I, still not accompanied by anyone, just had the best view of my life of skaters like Maia&Alex, Kaitlyn&Andrew, Gabi (Guillaume didn’t show up because he was getting his hand stitched) , Piper&Paul, Madi&Evan and Madi&Zach after they had gone through the crowd. Madison Hubbell actually turned around to see the crowd once again, laughed, then turned in the other direction, saw me all by myself, smiled and waved at me! 😎😱 I was so surprised but also very thankful for such a nice gesture! (jeez, but I hope I didn’t look like those weird, creepy stalkers 😁). The crowd finally went away and I got to walk out normally.
My journey was over but the memories were never going to fade. It was an experience I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world as it brought the whole spectrum of emotions to me. It was the best day of my life. I can never thank enough to my mom who came up with this idea and travelled with me. We had the most fantastic time ever. ❤️
#4 Pairs | Qing PANG and Jian TONG - The Impossible Dream, 2010 Vancouver FS
I’m not a huge fan of pairs (I hate the death spiral so much for no reason, and for pairs it’s relatively tame). Even though I admit I have not seen a lot, I just know this is one of the best ones out there. Amazing program, inspired performance: truly an olympic moment.
#3 Men | Yuzuru HANYU - Romeo and Juliet, 2012 Worlds FS
This is not his best. Numerous records and medals since this performance proved that. But I still go back to this. He was Romeo, skating to a beautifully choreographed program. Even the fall was timed perfectly to a drop in the music; it’s almost annoying. I know I am an ordinary fan whose opinions hardly matter; so if you would not take my word for it, just consider the fact that this is considered a signature performance even if he had improved leaps and bounds since this debut.
#2 Ice Dance | Tessa VIRTUE and Scott MOIR - Symphony No. 5, 2010 Vancouver FD
Breathtaking is the first word that came to my mind when I first saw this performance. I rewatch it often and every time leaves me feeling the same way. Just go watch it if you haven’t yet, because my words cannot do it justice at all.
#1 Ladies | Mao ASADA - Piano Concerto No. 2, 2014 Sochi FS
It was a beautiful program and I could go on and talk about what makes it objectively great. But I loved this program without knowing any of those technicalities. To put it simply, this performance made me want to follow this sport for real. Seeing it once was enough to convince me to get invested in the journey of Mao Asada; and eventually, other skaters. You won’t be reading an FS post from my FS sideblog if not for Mao, so thank (or blame) her for that.
TL; DR this is all about me and my feelings. more program recommendations here [x]