Category Archives: Figure Skating Sports
UPDATE: Music on this Figure Skating video has been restored!
As the Figure Skating season kicks off, many fans have taken to YouTube to relive some of the best skating programs that they love. From Mariah Bells’ Titanic free skate last season to the performance that catapulted Spanish figure skater, Javier Fernandez’s in 2010 to the tune of the Pirates of the Caribbean soundtrack.
However, fans were disappointed to learn that some YouTube programs were muted. The skating routine was intact but there was no music.
Such is the case of France’s figure skating dance partners, Natalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat. In 2012, they skated their exhibition gala routine to the tune of “The Time of my Life” from the 80’s Dirty Dancing soundtrack. Their routine was remixed with the new version of The Black-Eyed Peas’ variation of the song. The French duo revived their program at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games.
Yet, when fans played the video on YouTube, instead of seeing the program to the tune of the music, the entire program was muted with a message that reads:
This video previously contained a copyrighted audio track. Due to a claim by a copyright holder, the audio track has been muted.
Thanks to YouTube and the supposed copyright violation, many fans are left disappointed at reliving the magical program that they have come to love.
In recent years, since Google acquired YouTube, they have increasingly blocked videos that many fans have uploaded for sheer enjoyment, educational purposes and review, none of it for profit, under the pretext of copyright infringement. Does this mean that figure skating fans can no longer upload their favorite videos, exercising the Fair Use Act?
Recently, it seems that figure skating fans are being penalized for listening to songs or music that is deemed “copyright” even though it is part of the original figure skating program.
According to Ad Week’s Social Times the Fair Use Act states the following with regard to background music in a video:
Have you ever shot a video at an event or place where there was copyright music or a band playing in the background? The incidental capture of copyrighted music in the background is considered fair use.
This is not the first time that YouTube has muted music or taken down videos due to apparent copyright violation. In 2007, YouTube, at the request of Universal Music Corp., took down a 29-second clip of a dancing baby because the hardly audible music playing in the background was Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy”. Lentz contacted the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a nonprofit organization who managed to restore the video that was taken down by YouTube. They eventually took on her case against Universal Music Corp.
The case, Lentz vs. Universal Music Corp., also known as the “dancing baby” has taken eight long years to come to its latest resolution. On September 14th, 2015, the courts reprimanded Universal for not reviewing the content in “good faith” before the DMCA take down notice.
Universal Music Corp. is the parent company of Interscope Records, the label under which the Black Eyed Peas’ version of “The Time of My Life” known as “The Time (Dirty Bit)” was distributed. The original Dirty Dancing soundtrack was released under the RCA label, whose parent company is Sony Music Corp. Those songs were part of the figure skating exhibition program that was muted for apparent copyright infringement.
It is evident that a subjective good faith determination was not exercised in this instance as well, as figure skating programs are protected under the Fair Use Act.
This figure skating season saw some great performances with some extraordinary results. For the first time in Spain’s history, they have a World Champion in the form of Javier Fernandez. Russia reclaimed their dominance with some excellent performances this year in which Elizaveta Tuktamysheva took the gold, a feat not conquered since Irina Slutskaya did so ten years ago.
This past weekend, the United States claimed gold in the World Team Trophy event and in January, Ashley Wagner reclaimed her title at the U.S. Championships. But despite these medal winning performances, there is one that stands out. The skater didn’t win any medals at nationals or worlds but her performance was nothing short of amazing.
Mariah Bell, who was eighteen years old at nationals (now nineteen) skated a dazzling free skate to the tune of James Horner‘s Titanic. She was practically flawless. The crowd at the Greensboro Coliseum in North Carolina, where the U.S. Championships were held this year, agreed.
Wearing a beautiful baby blue-colored dress, Mariah skated onto the ice where she exhibited great spins and outstanding jumps, all in an exquisite long program. The free skate was a subtle and elegantly crafted choreography that suited the music and with which she seemed at ease. By the end of her free skate, the crowd went wild.
1998 Olympic gold medalist and NBC commentator, Tara Lipinski, took notice of Mariah Bell’s amazing performance and said:
“The attention is always on the top skaters; Gracie Gold, Ashley Wagner, but you can’t forget moments like this. This is what makes nationals so special. This girl has trained all year for this and she put out an awesome performance.”
It has been an agonizing year as the Culver City ice rink faced closure of its facilities earlier this year. Karagozian, the current owner was ready to move on to a more lucrative deal with Planet Granite, the rock climbing fitness center.
Residents were unhappy with the current owner’s plans and made their views known to Culver City city officials. While the rally turn-out on Tuesday night, April 22nd was not as massive as in past weeks, the purpose was achieved. The ice rink building has won historical significance in a 4-0 vote from the Culver City Cultural Affairs Commission.
While it is a joyous moment for die hard ice fans of the Culver City arena, there is still the problem of “if and when” the ice rink will open its doors to the public. With the historical significance in hand, the decision has saved the building from being demolished but not from operating again.
The soil where the ice rink stands may pose some health risks to patrons and residents of the area. While everyone is anxiously awaiting test results, the waiting game continues.
As written in Save Culver Ice’s blog, die hard ice zealot, Steve Weinberg, described his encounter with the current owner and his family:
“The vote comes in and the ayes have it. I look over and the Karagozians bolt. So do I. I catch up with the cane wielding Armenian with a slicked back grey mane and introduce myself. It was the first time meeting him since our 1 hour phone conversation late last year. My outstretched hand goes unshaken. He turns to me and says, ‘Weinberg? I’m not happy with you and that Facebook stuff. That building is a piece of shit. We’ve been screwed for 50 years. Isn’t that enough?’ I say ‘I’m trying to help you…’ as he continues on with a brusk ‘Good Day.’… I stand dumbfounded.”
Still, Culver City ice zealots await the soil analysis to see if their beloved ice rink will soon open its doors to the public again.
Ashley Wagner has done it again. Thursday night she slammed figure skating judges at the Sochi Olympics for what she claims were inflated scores given to Russian figure skaters. In the process, Wagner managed to infuriate figure skating fans who have yet to forgive her for taking up Mirai Nagasu’s rightly earned spot at the Olympics.
Figure skating fans were outraged last month when the US Figure Skating Association chose fourth place skater Ashley Wagner over bronze medalist Mirai Nagasu, to represent the US at the Sochi Olympics. Some say it was favoritism and others say it was thanks to the lucrative sponsorship support that Wagner had secured.
One thing is true; Ashley Wagner did not show up at nationals. And while the decision to place her in the Olympics, instead of Nagasu, was within the USFSA’s never-exercised-before guidelines; no one can negate that Wagner’s Sochi spot was a gift she did not earn and it showed at the Olympics.
Many figure skating fans vented their disgust over Wagner’s selection on social media. Figure skating fan Teresa A. Murphy said of Ashley Wagner’s Olympic spot, “she was PLACED in the Olympics….she didn’t EARN her position.”
Long-time figure skating aficionado J.M. Gassen commented on Facebook: “I would love to know if she realizes how many fans she turned away from figure skating with her gifted trip to Sochi. I’ve watched skating for years and I almost had no desire to watch this year. Thank you Ashley Wagner and the US committee for cheapening the sport.”
Despite all the TV commercials she made with her sponsors and all the hype that NBC propelled her for, Wagner’s Olympic performances were just as disappointing as they were at US nationals.
Many of her jumps were downgraded thursday night and her overall performance was firm but junior level. Yet she seemed shocked when the Olympic judges marked her appropriately for this. Even NBC commentator and former US figure skating champ, Tara Lipinsky said about her long program, “Not the performance she was looking for” despite Wagner’s happy grin and fist pumping immediately after her performance.
Perhaps Amy Davidson from The New Yorker said it best:
To pleasantly immerse oneself in the American Olympic experience, one must be like Wagner: thrilled and oblivious to all but our most blatantly clumsy mistakes.
Or perhaps Ashley Wagner has grown accustomed to her own inflated marks. US judges gave her extremely generous marks at the 2013 US nationals and crowned her national champ yet again despite her botchy performance. Gracie Gold skated a clean and impeccable performance. This year, although the title was decisively earned by Gold, the USFSA still managed to include Wagner at the Sochi Olympics despite a disappointing performance, two falls and her fourth place finish.
At the Olympics, despite a less than perfect performance, Wagner was given generous marks, even marking a season’s best performance. However, Ashley Wagner is crying foul. She said she felt gypped,
“People don’t want to watch a sport where you see people fall down and somehow score above someone who goes clean. It is confusing and we need to make it clear for you. To be completely honest, this sport needs fans and needs people who want to watch it. People do not want to watch a sport where they see someone skate lights out and they can’t depend on that person to be the one who pulls through. People need to be held accountable.” (Yahoo! Sports)
Really? The pot calling the kettle black. Hypocrisy at its best.
The twitter-verse was on fire. Laura L. quoted Wagner’s words and tweeted, “…Which is why you should not be in Sochi #MiraiEarnedIt”
And Robbby Brenzoo tweeted this, “Now that is crazy! She who was given her spot as a gift? She complains? Lacking class indeed. “
While some believe that Olympic judges were colluding to crown Russia’s Adelina Sotnikova, nothing could be farther from the truth. Had the judges given Lipnitskaya the gold medal, despite her fall, that would have been favoritism. After all, the Russian darling was Lipnitskaya, not Sotnikova.
Sotnikova herself was shunned by the Russian figure skating federation in favor of the 15-year old phenom, Lipitskaya. Although no one in the media was talking about Adelina, it didn’t mean that she didn’t have a chance. She had already beaten Olympic bronze medalist Carolina Kostner at the European Championships earlier this year.
South Korea’s Yuna Kim skated beautifully at the Olympics but the hunger she had in 2010 to win back her title, was nowhere to be seen.
The Olympics are about showing up when it counts, just as nationals should be. Wagner didn’t show up then and yet she was given a spot at Sochi. Sotnikova certainly showed up and boy did she have fire in her performance!
Sotnikova skated a flawless short program. In her long program, she skated seven triple jumps with five of them being in combination. Yuna Kim only had six triple jumps and only three of them were in combination. Yuna Kim’s beautiful skating gave her higher marks in the components scores but Sotnikova’s highly charged technical program gave her the edge over the South Korean.
Canadian figure skater Elvis Stojko agrees. In an interview with USA Today Sports, Stojko said, “Adelina came loaded. Did the other two have more beautiful skating? Absolutely. But it’s a sport, and this was totally fair.”
In what became an unexpected twist, Adelina Sotnikova from Russia, beat out Yuna Kim from South Korea and her own compatriot Yulia Lipnistkaya, when she won Olympic gold on Thursday.
Amid the controversy by some, Adelina’s free skate was technically superior to Yuna Kim’s. And while some suspect Sotnikova’s scores were inflated, components scores have always been subjective. She skated with so much heart and determination and portrayed that on the ice. That in itself, was enough to win her the gold medal.
In a country renowned for its world class ballet, figure skating is considered a national sport in Russia. An elegant and seemingly breezy sport but the pressures to make it to the top are daunting. And in Russia, the pressure is felt even more so.
Just ask 2002 Olympic gold medalist Alexei Yagudin and newly crowned Olympic champ Sotnikova. Both skaters were shunned by their federation in favor of younger rising figure skating stars.
Sotnikova was ousted by the Russian figure skating federation during the national team event. Instead, that spot was given to 15 year old European champion, Yulia Lipnistkaya. Lipnistkaya practically became an overnight success. Meanwhile, Sotnikova’s earlier accomplishments were ignored. The Russian federation considered her a “has-been”.
However, Adelina showed them all how wrong they were Thursday night. Both of her routines in Sochi were excellent and the sheer determination on her face was telling. Prior to the event, everyone doubted Sotnikova could pull it off. No one in the media was even talking about her but she proved them wrong. She beat out the favorite, Yuna Kim, by more than five points and took the gold.
Afterwards, Sotnikova said,
“I really wanted to participate in the team competition because I understood that we would win a medal because our team is so strong. When I found out I was not in the team, I felt so sorry and I felt offended. I felt so cheated in a way. Anyway, I still had my goal to show this skating, the one that I did today. Maybe it is all for the best that I didn’t compete in the team competition and it was an advantage for me that it made me so mad to win the gold medal.”
In the same way that Sotnikova was shunned by the Russian figure skating federation, so was Alexei Yagudin. He was written off by his federation and his former coach, Mishin, in favor of a younger skater named Plushenko.
At the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics, with the help of his new coach Tatiana Tarasova, Yagudin beat Plushenko. He won the gold medal to the tune of “The Man in the Iron Mask.” Plushenko settled for silver. A golden moment for Yagudin and one he has handled with great humility, grace and respect ever since. He gave full credit to his coach, Tarasova, for believing in him when others didn’t.
During the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, defending 2006 Olympic champ Evgeny Plushenko, complained loudly that American Evan Lysacek did not deserve the gold medal because there were no quadruple jumps in his program. While Plushenko did land a quadruple jump, Lysacek’s program was neatly skated and flawless throughout.
Not content with the outcome, Plushenko’s ego took to his website that year and displayed a picture of three Olympic medals: his 2002 Salt Lake City silver, 2006 Turin gold and the 2010 Vancouver “platinum” medal he claims he deserved in lieu of the silver medal he won that year.
This year he bumped off a capable Russian figure skater who beat him at nationals for the only spot in Men’s figure skating that Russia had in the Sochi Olympics. While he participated in the team event, he withdrew from the men’s single event, complaining of excruciating back pain. Perhaps Plushenko knew that his stamina was no longer in par with the rest of the men vying for Olympic gold. Critics say he feigned extreme pain, saving himself and his country an embarrassing performance and score.
However, most agree that Plushenko should have checked his ego back in 2010 and hung up his skates then.
Today, Sunday, is the last day the Culver City Ice Skating Rink will open its doors. After fifty-two years, the iconic skating rink is closing its doors. This is a rink where the L.A. Kings and Olympic figure skaters, Michelle Kwan and Scott Hamilton, once trained.
To many Culver City residents, this is not just another ice rink. This is the fabric of their town.
The new lessee, Planet Granite plans to offer yoga, rock climbing and a fitness center in their new facility but no ice rink. However, as many in the community have noted, Culver City already has eleven yoga studios, nine fitness centers and four rock climbing centers locally. Why would they want another one in their city?
As details of the deal behind the ice rinks closure have emerged, a backlash and boycott has initiated against Planet Granite and the current property owner, Mr. Karagozian. The company and Culver City council members have been bombarded with pleas from residents to keep the ice rink open.
Planet Granite put out an apology of sorts on their website. Yet in the process of doing so, the organization not only took the L.A. Kings (they were the second highest bidders) President’s words out of context, but managed to enrage the Culver City community even more. And the negative comments, directly below their “press release” are growing.
Many residents feel that it is clear that Planet Granite does not understand the tight nit community that exists in Culver City. In erroneously referring to the city as West L.A. they set off a whirlwind of criticism. Culver City is not West Los Angeles.
Planet Granite has defended its position and the current property owner in its statement, “The landlords rely on the rent to support themselves and their families. They seek a tenant for their building who can reliably pay a fair rent and properly maintain their building.”
What they failed to mention was that the current property owner and attorney, Mike A. Karagozian, was seeking a whopping $68,000 a month in rent, more than double of what it was originally requiring of the skating rink. That’s not a livable wage as they claim, that’s downright greediness. It would, in fact, be enough to support a life of luxury for himself and his family.
Some have suggested that a better location for Planet Granite would be the former Albertson’s Supermarket, situated on one of the area’s main streets. The building is just as big as the Culver City ice skating rink with plenty of parking for their customers. The best part is that it is already home to sports fans, situated almost directly across the L.A. Clippers training facility.
As community members push forward to block Planet Granite from conducting business on their beloved ice skating rink, first steps have been taken to contact Culver City elected officials.
“According to Councilman Micheal O’Leary, around 20,000 people have participated in a grassroots campaign of petitions, handwritten letters, presentations at meetings and social networking. O’Leary says he has never experienced anything in his time of service that reached this level of public engagement” (DnA)
On Monday February 10th, a day where there is no figure skating events scheduled for the Sochi Olympics in Russia, a rally will be held in front of Culver City City Hall for those interested in attending. It will be held between 5pm to 9pm, after school and after work hours, giving many constituents and fellow supporters, the time and ability to attend.
Last year during U.S. nationals, in what has become typical Wagner fashion, she fell on multiple jumps but was given the first place title that deservedly belonged to Gracie Gold, who took home silver instead.
This year, Mirai Nagasu skated a clean short and long program over the weekend, earning the bronze medal at US nationals and most would have thought, a third spot at the Sochi Olympics. #MiraiEarnedIt
However, much to the surprise of skating fans, the third Olympic spot was given to an undeserving Ashley Wagner.
The justification the USFSA gave for selecting Wagner was her “body of work” in international events she has competed. However, Wagner’s body of work leaves a lot to be desired. Multiple falls and stumbles seem to be everywhere, reminiscent of Canadian Patrick Chan’s performances.
In every major event where Wagner has competed, she has faltered. When Wagner is under pressure, she does not perform well. Isn’t the Olympics a pressure-packed event?
Every figure skating fan knows that Olympic gold medal winners are not selected based on their body of work. Skaters only get one chance and how they perform in that event determines a medal, if any.
If the Olympic sport was determined by a skater’s overall “body of work”, then Michelle Kwan should have won the gold medal at the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics, instead of Sarah Hughes. So why did the USFSA selectively choose to ignore Wagner’s poor performance at US nationals?
As with most sporting events, money and sponsors matter.
NBC lost one of its U.S. Olympic stars when Lindsey Vonn opted out of the Olympics earlier this month due to injury. The TV network, who currently holds U.S. broadcasting rights to the Olympics, was not about to let their other Olympic hopeful, Ashley Wagner slip by either. With all the Wagner publicity that NBC has bombarded viewers with recently, how could they?
It seems figure skating fan L. Anna has summed it up adequately. She comments: “I feel so bad for Mirai. Ashley had all the sponsors and commercials already done, in place. At least I pray they send Mirai as alternate, or back up. So so sad, it is always about the money!”
A petition was started Sunday afternoon via Change.org, addressed to USFSA president Pat St. Peter, to send Mirai Nagasu to compete in Sochi.
Fans have taken to the US Figure Skating Associations facebook page to vent their frustrations. One fan writes “It is heartbreaking that Ashley Wagner skated so poorly at nationals, but denying Mirai Nagasu a spot that she earned does not right the situation. Sports are about rising to the task when the pressure is on. Mirai did that, including in the 2010 Olympics where she delivered a beautiful, clean program. What message are you trying to send to young athletes? That the rules are not the same for everyone? That it’s not worth showing up to compete because the results get ignored?”
Another fan comments “Here’s what bothers me. Wagner could’ve finished 8th and she still would have been chosen because of her ‘body of work’. Mirai could’ve finished 2nd and still would have been passed over. She basically had to be #1 or get cut. How fair is that? All 3 skaters were chosen before the Nationals. The entire event was a sham. Mirai never had a chance of going to Sochi.”
An article on USA Today seems to support that theory. “Two people with knowledge of the selection process told USA TODAY Sports that Wagner will be on the Olympic team, ‘even if she’s 10th.’ She finished fourth. The two spoke on the condition of anonymity because the selection process was ongoing.”
Twitter fans were not much kinder either. @buffluv999 tweeted this:
“Imagine if NFL NBA NHL ignored the winners and sent their agenda to championship! Sad sad day. I regret my involvement in this assoc. USFSA u blew it… subjective and political! Ashley blew it… Mirai was robbed by a system of politicos. #usfsa #olympics”
As it stands, the ladies going to the Winter Olympics are: Gracie Gold, Polina Edmunds and Ashley Wagner. Gracie Gold is the top skater of the three and the United States’ best hope for an Olympic medal.
Last year Gold was robbed of the US National Championship title in favor of Wagner. This year Mirai Nagasu was robbed of the Olympic spot in favor of Wagner. How many more freebies will the U.S. Figure Skating Association give Ashley Wagner?
This week Coca Cola announced that two U.S. Figure Skaters will represent the company in the upcoming Winter Olympics. Evan Lysacek, who won the gold medal in men’s figure skating in 2010, and two-time Olympic medalist, Michelle Kwan, will represent Coca Cola as “living ambassadors” in Sochi next year. The event is only eight months away and many are already gearing up for a very successful Winter Olympic season.
Evan Lysacek is expected to compete this year in hopes of qualifying for that coveted U.S. Olympic spot by January 2014. Lysacek was hoping to compete last year but a spat with the U.S. Figure Skating Association, kept him out of the season. The Olympic gold medalist’s decision angered some fans mainly because they felt that a monetary dispute should never have gotten in the way of his love for the sport. Never-the-less, many Americans are excited to see him compete this season.
Michelle Kwan has a long history of success within the sport of figure skating. Her career began when she was just a child and with much sacrifice, became the top figure skater of her time. No one since has been able to match her success. Kwan won an Olympic silver medal in 2002 and an Olympic bronze medal in 2006. She is a five-time world champion and a nine-time US figure skating champion, making her by far the most decorated US figure skater in history.
Michelle Kwan has been the face of figure skating for over a decade. Her dedication to the sport has been immeasurable and it is very fitting that she was selected among the four ambassadors to represent the Coca Cola brand.
The other two ambassadors are Paralympic snowboarder Amy Purdy and Alpine world champion, Ted Ligety.
See you all in Sochi!
A few weeks ago, many figure skating fans were thrilled that one of figure skating greatest stars was going to compete on ABC’s Dancing With The Stars. Unfortunately, we later learned that she dropped out of the competition due to a persisting spine injury.
Dorothy Hamill is a star on her own. She began skating at the tender age of eight. Her signature move, the Hamill Camel spin is imitated by figure skaters worldwide. In 1976 she participated in the Winter Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria, where she won her first Olympic gold medal. She also holds three world championship medals.
She was known as America´s sweetheart in the 70´s and she even had her own doll made at the time.
Dorothy Hamill is currently married and has one child. She continues to skate in skating shows and was once a mentor to another figure skating US champion, Rachel Flatt.
In what has become typical Patrick Chan fashion, he delivered a program full of flaws this past weekend. Chan’s performance was wobbly and he fell multiple times throughout his free skate. Yet despite a solid short program, he should have slipped to fifth place overall.
And by Chan’s reaction after his freeskate, he knew it too. He ended up apologizing to his fans for his performance by issuing a series of “I’m Sorry” during his press conference, immediately after the event. Newspapers in his home country all wrote about how his short program was the deciding factor. However, it was obvious to most fans that no short program could have given him the miracle points that he desperately needed. However, the judges gave him that third win.
Judging irregularities comes to mind over and over again when it comes to figure skating. Or is it simply playing homage to the host country by giving their hometown boy the gold and gaining personal benefits along the way. Until someone speaks out about another judging scandal, we may never know.
Kazakhstan’s Denis Ten skated beautifully in his free skate program. His technique was strong and his artistry was impeccable. Many fans watching felt he should have been awarded that gold medal. Instead, Patrick Chan was given a pass in his home country again.
Judging controversies have always been an issue with figure skating. Just last month, the U.S. figure skating championships awarded the national title to an undeserving Ashley Wagner. When comparing her skate to Gracie Gold’s spectacular performance, the real winner was obvious.
What bothered most fans about Wagner’s back to back “win” was not only the unjustified scoring, but the comparisons between her and Michelle Kwan since no other lady had repeated the title since. Michelle Kwan was an exceptional figure skater and Ashley Wagner, despite her U.S. national champion repeat, still has a lot of work to catch up to.
Many fans were also hopeful that justice would finally be done this year at Worlds but had little hopes since the event was held in Canada. Last year the title was also handed down to Chan, despite a riveting free skate blues performance by Japan’s Daisuke Takahashi.
If the fans had their way, the final standing for the World’s Championships this weekend in men’s figure skating, would have been the following:
Fans are hopeful that by next year, an Olympic year, deserving scores will be awarded and that preferential scores given to performances riddled with mistakes, will end.