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Some guys get all pursy around the mouth when you suggest this, but figure skating is infinitely harder than ice hockey. Every four years at the Winter Olympics, figure skating fans have to listen to a lot of nonsense about how their sport lacks legitimacy. The puckheads don’t understand that the people in Lycra doing curlicues are actually the better skaters, with the stronger legs, and the superior athletes in a more pressure-packed pursuit.

-Sally Jenkins of The Washington Post where you can continue reading...

Filed in: Hockey Related Stories, | KK Hockey | Permalink


TreKronor's avatar

Wikipedia tells me…

Sally Jenkins (born October 22, 1960) is an American sports columnist and feature writer for The Washington Post. Prior employment included being a senior writer for Sports Illustrated. Jenkins was born in Fort Worth, Texas,[1] and is a graduate of Stanford University with a degree in English Literature.

Now, has she figure skated?  Has she played hockey? 

It’s apples and oranges, the two.  I completely respect figure skaters, but for different reasons than I respect hockey players.

Posted by TreKronor on 02/13/14 at 05:47 PM ET


Well, there IS one guy who has done both at a high level: Jeff Skinner.

so let’s look at him:

Concussions sustained from figure skating: 0

Concussions sustained from hockey: 9 billion. Give or take.

No disrespect to the sport of figure skating. I had a cousin who was one of the last couple cuts several olympics ago. I know how many hours she put into that. I know how competitive it is. I know how b*tchy the people around the sport are. Sucks for a kid to be involved in that.

But it’s not as grueling as pro-level hockey—it’s just not. Johnny Weir never had his eye nearly put out in one event, competed in the next, then got unexpectedly thrown headfirst into plexiglass soon after (Pronger).

No figure skater’s going to completely tear an ACL, then do 20 more competitions before getting it fixed. Sustain a collapsed lung, let alone compete for two weeks with it.

And even leaving physical wear aside to focus on pressure: if some figure skater wins Silver, he or she is not going to hear about it as a negative in the national newspapers for the next 20 years. That’s exactly the situation both the Canadians and Russians are in.

Posted by larry on 02/13/14 at 06:12 PM ET

awould's avatar

Figure skating is a dumb Olympic sport because it is subjectively judged. There is no absolute score and no timed race. Every subjectively scored Olympic event is suspect. Figure skating more than most, as was evident in the 2002 games.

That said, I like watching figure skating and there is no question that they are unbelievable athletes. Same goes with snowboarding. Subjectively judged and open to lots of scoring BS, but it is quite a spectacle.

Posted by awould on 02/13/14 at 06:34 PM ET

TreKronor's avatar

And referees aren’t subjective in their calls?

Posted by TreKronor on 02/13/14 at 06:37 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Once you get past the kind of goofy clickbait intro and read into the article, she ends up making a very good defense of the legitimacy of figure skating as a sport (although the need of ice skating fans to do so would be a great mirror to the general inferiority complex of hockey fans whenever other major sports get brought up too).

The comparisons to hockey are a bit silly, but I can’t imagine I’d have read this article in the first place if she had used a different means of bringing up how difficult and demanding a competition that figure skating is.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 02/13/14 at 06:39 PM ET


Refs do subjectively call penalties and what not, however, rarely do they ever DIRECTLY effect the outcome of a game.

Posted by fromdowntown on 02/13/14 at 06:48 PM ET


Figure skating is about as much of a sport as ‘So you think you can dance?’ is.  Or as much as a guy shadowboxing would be.  Or as much as one person running down a road is.

Figure skating is an exhibition.  A sport implies direct competition against other participants with an objective scoring system.

Two guys fighting each other is a sport.  Two people seeing who can run down the road faster is a sport.

Other exhibitions?  Diving.  Snowboarding.  Rhythmic dance.

That’s not to say these exhibitions don’t require an amazing amount of speciality and skill to perform at a high level.  It’s just that they aren’t sports.

Or, conversely, if stuff like figure skating can be defined as a sport the definition of sport is totally meaningless.  It’d have to include anything people do, like throwing playing cards into a hat from across the room.  Rap offs.  ‘Whose line is it anyway?’ would be a sport.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 02/13/14 at 07:13 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Two guys fighting each other is a sport.

Neither boxing nor MMA have an objective scoring system.  There’s a way to achieve an objective victory-state, but unless we’re going to muddy the rules to say it’s sometimes a sport and sometimes isn’t a sport, I’ll need a better definition.

It’d have to include anything people do, like throwing playing cards into a hat from across the room.

As long as the winner was the person who landed more cards in the hat, this would fit your established definition of a sport, as that’s an objective scoring system using direct competition.

Figure skating isn’t an exhibition any more than any sport is an exhibition. If you’re looking for a way to call it “not a sport”, the better phrase is to leave it at “athletic competition.”  Like the scoring system or no, they’re competing. An exhibition is just a display of skill or talent. Adding any form of a scoring system changes it.

Besides, if you say “Athletic competition”, then it allows you to more-easily separate games of Whose Line and card-flipping from the consideration, since the definition of such things seems so crucial.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 02/13/14 at 08:09 PM ET

Luongo-is-my-hero's avatar

Oh Silly Jenkins, TRIX are for KIDS!

Posted by Luongo-is-my-hero on 02/13/14 at 10:16 PM ET


Figure skating is about as much of a sport as

sport [spawrt, spohrt] 
1. an athletic activity requiring skill or physical prowess and often of a competitive nature, as racing, baseball, tennis, golf, bowling, wrestling, boxing, hunting, fishing, etc.

Figure skating is a sport.  Period.  Deal with it.

As for figure skating vs hockey, the argument is about as objective as a Russian figure skating judge.

Having said that, I’m a hockey fan, so I’ll make two points.

As magnificent as Ovechkin is on skates, anyone who watched American skater Jeremy Abbott take a breakneck fall to the ice on a quadruple jump and slam into the boards Thursday night got an inkling of just how fast he was skating and the danger of a mistake. And when Abbott rose to complete his short program with a series of triples, we saw how tough these characters are under the chiffon and spangles.

That’s fantastic, good for Jeremy.

Guess what?  That kind of stuff?  The stuff that happens when figure skaters make grave mistakes?  That is the kind of stuff that happens on every single shift in a hockey game.  That is the type of punishing stuff that happens when nobody is making any mistakes.

Tell a hockey player to jump four feet off the ice and whirl four times, then land on one leg — backward — on a blade an eighth of an inch wide.

I don’t blame someone based in Washington for not knowing this, but since 2009, through four television seasons, retired hockey players have been doing just that.  CBC’s Battle of the Blades has a cast of retired (and almost overwhelmingly mediocre) hockey players learning to figure skate reasonably well.

Making a blanket statement that a hockey player couldn’t figure skate is as ridiculous as making a blanket statement that a figure skater could never play hockey.

And I’ll add this: tell a guy like Steve Yzerman that hockey isn’t as physically demanding as “hard” as figure skating.

Posted by Garth on 02/13/14 at 11:58 PM ET

Nathan's avatar

Figure skating is clearly very athletic, and I wouldn’t at all disrespect the talents that the top performers have. If there are hockey fans ragging on skating, that’s dumb, for the same reason this article is dumb. It’s apples and oranges.

One thing I will say is that generally speaking, the reason that many Olympic sports (winter and summer) don’t have as much “legitimacy” in my eyes is that they are subjectively scored. To me, an objectively scored sport is always better than a judged one. Doesn’t mean I don’t respect and even enjoy watching some of these sports. But it seems to me that it’s almost an objective truth that scoring something objectively is more “legitimate” than scoring something by judges.

Posted by Nathan from the scoresheet! on 02/14/14 at 10:24 AM ET

Primis's avatar

When figure skaters skate for more than 2-3:00 that counts in one night, we can discuss this.

Posted by Primis on 02/14/14 at 12:05 PM ET

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