Saturday, February 11, 2006

Favorite Figure Skating Performances

With the Winter Olympic Games underway in Torino, Italy, I'm sure I'll be catching my share of figure skating. Over the past few days, I've tried to recollect my favorite performances from this sport, and there are only four that have lodged themselves into my memory. In order of brilliance:

4. Brian Boitano's exhibition performance to the song "Un Amor" (Gypsy Kings). After he won the Olympic gold medal in 1988, he seemed to be everywhere. And one afternoon, while watching some random ice skating exhibition, he performed his routine in an outdoor rink. This performance I remember more for the music, but Boitano's athelticism was in full display. One of the great figure skaters of our generation.

3. Torvill and Dean's Olympic gold medal dance to "Bolero" (1984). Is there anything that matches this? I saw a replay of this a few years ago, and it is still positively stunning. Perhaps because ice dancing is focused on dancing versus pairs which has its focus on jumps and other athletic elements, the timelessness of their performance has not waned.

2. Torvill and Dean dance to "Cecilia" (Simon and Garfunkel). I don't remember the year, but it was an exhibition performance. I believe they were professionals already. Their work that evening was sheer joy, and I can't listen to this great song without thinking about their ice dancing.

1. Philippe Candeloro's Olympic bronze medal performance to "D'Artagnan" (Three Muskateers) (1998). I probably will break down and buy a DVD featuring this performance. Yes, there are technical elements to this routine, but it is also a feat of showmanship that brought the house down. He stages a mock sword fight that features great foot work, and that runs the length the ice rink. I don't remember the silver and gold medal performances; I only remember how great Candeloro skated.

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