So I've decided to use this week and some interesting discussion on the blog to start a new piece on my blog, The Weekly Op-Ed. It gives me a chance to sound off on hot topics in an Olbermann, Dobbs, O'Reilly, Beck kind of way!
So it's been suggested that U.S. Figure Skating is attempting to "masculinify" the U.S. vision of figure skating.
I thought about this and really tried to hammer down concrete evidence that this was in fact taking place. It's also been suggested that the Johnny Weir is the visible face of "anti-masculine" skating that the U.S. is trying to erase. For the life of me, I couldn't find one iota of evidence that U.S. Figure Skating was attempting to 'masculinize' skating. The only possible thought I could produce is the fact that Johnny was snubbed for both the Four Continents Cup and the World Championships...but then again, he did finish fifth after a pretty lack luster free skate and the four guys ahead of him...well...skated better! A fact he took complete responsibility for in the post-event.
On the contrary, it would appear to me that U.S. Figure Skating has supported Johnny Weir. They've plastered him on the cover of Skating Magazine even when he wasn't skating great, given him little shows and pieces on Ice Network, sent him to the one and only Grand Prix event televised in the U.S., handed him Skating Magazine's MVP, and did give him the first alternate spot at the World Championships despite finishing behind Ryan Bradley. I think that U.S. Figure Skating has some strong arguments for defense here.
I will agree that there has been some harping on Johnny's 'flamboyance' but it hasn't been from U.S. Figure Skating. There have been little digs at him from other media outlets such as the L.A. Times, Washington Post, and NBC. And I think that U.S. Figure Skating has been frustrated with Johnny in the past, but not because of his vision of skating or 'flamboyance' but rather because of his training habits and lack of attention towards successful commitment. I can tell you, that if you had the pleasure of seeing all the men compete in Cleveland (not just the top 7), you'd see that Johnny's vision of skating is alive and well and really U.S. Figure Skating can't dictate what the skaters do or don't do on the ice (unless you consider the big book or crazy requirements the judging system continues to set forth).
I guess in the end, what I'm saying is, let's give U.S Figure Skating a break. And if we really want to pick on someone for trying to change the image of the sport, let's pick on the right people.
UPDATE: Interestingly...Skate Canada is actually attempting to 'masculate' figure skating! Check the link...http://outsports.com/jocktalkblog/2009/02/03/can-canada-make-figure-skating-tough/