This LA sports fan has been filled with rivaling emotions over the past few weeks. I just finished agonizing over USC and UCLA men’s basketball teams falling short of the Sweet 16. I’m anticipating another strong finish for the Lakers. I’m still crossing my fingers for those feisty Kings. And I continue to thank a higher power that Manny is back for another year (and not taking up cricket as his full-time gig). I am a mess.
Wait. Hold that thought.
An awe-inspiring distraction has emerged. Perhaps newfound admiration is taking command. Toronto’s Patrick Chan just executed a triple axel.
Amidst the mix of all these sports-induced emotions, what more is a LA sports fan to do than … attend the International Skating Union (ISU) World Figure Skating Championships at the Staples Center?
You’re probably thinking, “Figure skating as in Will Ferrell in ‘Blades of Glory’ figure skating?”
Yes, the very same figure skating, only completely different.
From what I witnessed Wednesday, this sport has no need for crazy, off-the-ice antics. There is no offensive showboating or explosive contestation of scores. And although the sport might be able to afford a few more jovial chest or mid-air hip bumps, the exhilaration which stems from individual success and triumph is just as genuine and moreover, appealing.
I decided to spend the afternoon taking in this rare opportunity after visiting an acquaintance at a nearby coffeehouse. Unable to finagle my way into Staples to view the Men’s Short Program, I made my way over to the neighboring LA Convention Center to try and take in an official practice session. Another miss. And although I could not capture any live competition or practice, the energy of the avid fans I encountered made due.
These admirers explained that figure skaters prepare with every bit of vigor and effort than athletes from other sports. They each named their favorite competitors and events and gave me a detailed description of what had transpired thus far.
I attempted to catch up with any US competitors, including apparent fan favorite Evan Lysacek. I never found the young men but felt as though I had, as fans remained abuzz about Lysacek and his United States counterparts’ practice session from a day earlier.
Still skeptical, I rushed home to capture a few moments on television. Okay, I watched for over an hour.
Apparently, the time Lysacek put in was worthwhile. Lysacek ended the day just behind France’s Brian Joubert who sits at first despite a few errors in Wednesday’s routine. Save these miscues, Joubert’s performance remained impressive, particularly to this untrained eye.
I am confident that any fan could appreciate the athleticism and passion showcased in this sport. Dare I say it? The activity seems to transcend sport and evolves into an art. We are talking about the best of the best here. And from what I have seen and heard, the best have yet to disappoint.
The Championships run until Sunday, March 29th with several events being held every day. Competition is being televised on Oxygen Network and NBC and livestreamed over the web. However, should you find yourself with some free time and even the slightest sense of intrigue, make the effort to watch one of these events live. Tickets remain available. I looked into it first-hand.
And before you dismiss or criticize the sport, or even contribute to some of the shortsighted stereotypes, maybe ask yourself, “How many people do I know that can complete a quadruple toe-double-toe combination jump?”
I hope I got that right.