Episode 1: Media Accessibility - Transcript


Introduction -

Karly: You’re in the loop! We’re here to discuss the ups, downs and sideways of the sport of figure skating and maybe give you +5 GOE along the way. This week’s hosts are: KarlyEvieTilda and Lae.

Lae: Hello!

Evie: Yay!

Karly: Woo!

Evie: Hello everyone! So this is the first episode of the podcast - exciting things! We’ve been talking about doing this for a while, and now it’s finally happening.

Karly: We’re very excited.

Lae: Yeah, and I think the reason why we started it was also, you know, increasing the accessibility of figure skating to new fans and old fans and also kind of offering an alternative perspective to the voices that already exist.

Evie: Definitely.

Tilda: Exactly, and more international perspective as well because we’re from several different countries here!

Lae: As you may be able to tell from all our amazing and possibly confusing accents.

Karly: There are a lot of accents.

Evie: Well there are a lot of accents, there are a lot of us… it’s not just us four on the podcast, we’ve got a lot of people helping out, we’re all friends here… we’re all doing our own part.

Karly: Are we?

Evie: Well, you know… so every two weeks, we hope to bring you some content that you may find interesting about figure skating and the world of figure skating, and sport and all that jazz.

Lae: So yeah! Exactly. We wanted to start today by talking sort of about why we started this whole thing, which is about figure skating and kind of media accessibility and how it comes across to us as fans, right?

Karly: Yes.

Evie: Definitely, so we’re going to be covering accessibility in the show, as well as we’re going to cover the latest news from the past couple of weeks in world of figure skating, and maybe if we have time, we’ll going to be talking about fun little things about our personal experiences in figure skating.

START: Media Accessibility Segment

Lae: Yeah, so I came into this whole thing because I’m like, waving the banner about this issue of figure skating and media accessibility because you know, I think figure skating as a sport no matter what broadcast rights, what kind of TV channels are involved, the heart of figure skating and how it survives as a sport is always through its fans and through reaching its audience and its public profile. And so I’m really passionate about this topic because I think that while we have a lot of channels and various media covering figure skating now, I think there is so much more that we could do and as fans, especially as international fans, there are so many sort of issues there that I think the sport and the people running the sport could be more aware of, and I think that’s kind of where I come from, when it comes to talking about accessibility.

Evie: Yeah, I definitely agree with that, I think figure skating is like reasonably popular but it’s not outlandishly popular - like it definitely has sort of a cult-y fanbase, obviously because we’re doing this it kind of signals that, but we’re - it’s definitely on the small side, and it can get really hard to find good sources for figure skating if you don’t know where you’re looking specifically.

Tilda: Yeah, and also, since - if you’re from the English-speaking part of the world, or even - I’m from Sweden, and there is no content in Swedish about figure skating, which means that I have to sort of move to the English-speaking part, and then it feels very focused on - a lot of the media is based in America, and then that sort of feels like, something I can’t quite relate to as a European, and that’s sort of like a vacuum, where I have an issue finding something that I can relate to.

Karly: Yeah, as for me, I think as sort of a new fan it’s kind of affected me in a way like - accessibility is a big thing because I kind of find myself squandering for sources for things, and I’d love to be more into the sport but I can’t find ways to do that because of the lack of accessibility. And so I think that bringing that more into sight can help bring more fans into it, which is what they want.

Evie: Definitely.

Lae: Definitely. I think what, I mean - when I think of accessibility, I kind of divide it into several key areas of issues, right. So there’s that first issue, right, where we’re talking about sort of the current official ways to even get access to figure skating content. And so I find that, because it’s a niche sport, because it’s maybe not as well-funded as, you know, the easily accessible sports like tennis or soccer with really low barriers to entry, you find that the official broadcasts are very segmented to these specific countries and regional zones. So you know, if we talk about kind of the main broadcasters, you might have the Eurosports channels, you’ll have America’s, and you will have like Russia and then Japan. And those are kind of the only - they’re really country segmented, and they’re often geoblocked, so as a way - and even coming from a small country like Australia, where we might get one or two figure skating broadcasts on TV, but they’re delayed (Evie: yes, they’re delayed.) and as figure skating fans, no fan wants to watch the competition five days after it’s been aired live, like that’s the spirit of figure skating.

Evie: Especially with the delayed broadcasts and stuff like that would have probably been okay like maybe ten years ago when the internet and twitter and real time updates weren’t a thing, but when you’re experiencing sport in the present where everything is happening right now, and you have to settle on something that’s gonna be broadcast like a week, or five days, or a couple days in advance when you already know what’s gonna happen - it kind of takes some of the majesty out of it? (Lae: Absolutely) Because I feel like the sport - the sport is definitely, like most sports, it’s enjoyed the most when you’re watching live and you’re watching it happen right in front of you. No, there’s something that’s missing - there’s a disconnect when you’re watching from a taped broadcast.

Lae: Absolutely, yeah. And like, even afterwards, I think like extending on from that, even after the live broadcast you know, because not everyone can watch competitions live. The way figure skating works, they’ll always be a part of the world that’s getting up at 2am to sit in their pjs and like scream at their computers (interjections of “mood” by the other hosts), but even after the broadcast I feel like there’s that crucial period after a big event - like the Olympics, but also like the world championships or any of the big events - like that’s the crucial period where you’re amassing fans, right? Because if some skater puts out, like, this iconic or you know mind-blowing program, that’s when the fans are most interested and that’s when the people viewing casually are in the best frame of mind to become fans. And you know, that’s just the crucial time, and like there is such little room for fans to catch that. And I think we talked about this.

Tilda: Especially with YouTube, (Karly: Exactly) YouTube is a huge website where it’s very possible to advertise the sport a lot by putting up- because there are, you know, short programs that a casual fan can watch like- and get interested in figure skating because in a way the figure skating program themselves are quite, you know they’re like- they’re short, they have music, a lot of them are very eye catching.  So it’s a very easy sport to just “Hey watch this 3-minute video and get interested you know”.

Lae: And then go down the YouTube rabbit hole you know.

Karly: Yeah exactly

Tilda: That’s how most of us started, I think. Like, I started figure skating through, like I clicked on a video on YouTube and then just off I went. And after the Olympics when people are talking, “Wow did you see this performance? It was great!”, that’s how you get into fans and if the videos aren’t on YouTube, then you lose such a huge audience.

Lae: You lose that crucial momentum, I think. Like, you know, when people are talking about Virtue and Moir’s like Moulin Rouge, like that was everywhere. People who weren’t involved in figure skating where like “Hey! Did you see that news article about that Moulin Rouge program?”. And the Olympic Channel, you know, we want to view things officially, I think given the choice, most people would choose the Olympic channel; if it makes them extra advertising money through a YouTube sponsorship then that’s fine too. But they- how long did it take for them to upload that performance onto YouTube?

Evie: I think it took a couple of weeks, definitely (Lae: It took a couple of weeks) for them to upload it. And, yeah, and they still- they’re doing that- they did the same thing with all of the gold medal winners’ free programs, they put them up at a very slow pace and now they’re just slowly, you know, driveling out old programs over the like, next couple months.

Karly: The effect of the Olympics is…not there anymore. And I think like, you know, coming from, like I was- I watched during Sochi and I didn’t stay in the fandom after, I think- and it’s really because I didn’t know how to continue watching the sport. (Lae: Absolutely) I didn’t know how to stay invested in the sport so I just…let it go and then- now Twitter has been a big part of helping me to stay in the fandom, which is good, but there still remains, you know, people might not always be on Twitter, you know, so there still needs to be more accessibility, especially with YouTube because that also helps you- it gives you a place to learn the sport, you can watch programs and learn the jumps, learn the judging, there’s so many guide videos…so YouTube is a big area.

Evie: I find that also that–not just on YouTube but in general–it’s really hard to find more videos of full competitions unless you’re looking specifically for the Olympics, like I know that Ice Network has backups of full competitions but apart from that, you just have to go fishing for singular programs on YouTube. And sometimes especially if you want to catch up on something you missed, you don’t want to go individually hunting down every single program (Karly: Exactly), you just want to sit down in front of your computer and watch the whole thing play out. (Lae: Absolutely) And I think that’s really annoying for a lot of fans–new and old–that you can just go and sit down and watch a whole competition if you’ve missed it.

Lae: Yeah, and I think it’s so crucial, especially for like, the up and coming skaters, you know, apart from the big names it’s like­–seeing the full competition is how you, as fans, get invested in like this–the skaters who might not be as popular, or who aren’t podium- like making the podium all the time. And, that’s so crucial because figure skating–like if we drag in a little bit of a tangent here–but like figure skating is such like, an underfunded sport comparatively to any other sport, you know, skaters have donation and fundraising pages, and what better way to like get them an invested group of supporters than being able to actually see their performances, you know (interjections of “yeah” by the other hosts). I think there’s so much lost in not being able to view an entire competition in context and kind of, have the chance to, you know, have the spotlight shine on skaters other than, you know, the big names.

Tilda: And I think also this is what happens when, for example, a competition is broadcasted on television and they only show, like, the last two groups of skaters (Interjections of “yeah” and “mhmm” from other hosts) which is such a pity because there are so many amazing skaters who go in like, the first group, who don’t get that exposure.

Evie: There’s a lot of skaters that are not just from smaller federations but there are also a lot of up-and-coming talents that might not have the world standing needed to go later in the programs, so you’re missing out on a lot of really talented skaters that you wouldn’t have known existed unless you watched the whole broadcast - which is really just, not great in general.

Karly: Yeah and especially with like watching the full competition, you might miss a crucial - like, there are lots of comebacks from the short into the free, and just watching one of those, you might not get the full effect and learn more about that skater and what they’ve done.

Lae: Yeah, exactly. And also, like I think that when you miss the beginning, like of the programs of these up-and-coming skaters, I think you just lose a sense of comparison as well between - like you can kind of see the differences in variety of programs, you can see like the differences in jump layout. And even in broadcast times, I think I can understand sometimes when they have to cut a broadcast short because of advertising restraints or budget. But it doesn’t cost money to upload- or it doesn’t cost as much money to upload these things online and make them available online- because it’s happening: the broadcasters have recorded it anyway. (interjections of agreement) And if they’re not planning to use it and make money off it on a regular broadcasting channel, why not upload it online and make it available for other people?

Evie: And even when the ISU livestreams stuff on their website, it’s usually region-blocked or really hard to access or just generally doesn’t work half the time. And then the only real bit of figure skating that gets decent coverage is the juniors - like with the Junior Grand Prix - that’s all livestreamed on YouTube and all of the programs are uploaded to the ISU’s account so if we could have something like that for seniors it would be great! (interjections of agreement) But broadcasting rights and regulations and stuff  messes everything up so you probably couldn’t have something like that. But it’s really annoying!

Lae: It’s hard to understand, a little bit, because I think it’s one thing if the broadcasters were going to rebroadcast at some point or they were supplying alternatives for people subscribed to their network. But, so many broadcasters will broadcast it once and then they’ll just sit on the footage and it seems like in this age where you can have- you know, real estate online isn’t that expensive so if you have the opportunity to make it available for fans and you’re not going to be using it anyway, it seems like such a missed opportunity to not let that work in the background to kind of bring fans more into the sport so that you might get more audiences viewing during the official broadcast times.

Tilda: Yeah, because I mean, this is stuff that is going to benefit them in the long run, because it’s going to create buzz and people are going to be able to share with their friends, get more people interested, but nobody’s going to be interested if they find out that they have to access, for example, illegal streams - which I know a lot of fans do because there’s no good option for them in their countries for example. And we really don’t want people to resort to illegal streams.

Lae: But often it’s a case where, if you want to catch something live and you’re not in a country where that’s readily accessible to you, it is kind of how a lot of fans continue being involved in the fandom - because it is the only way at the moment.

Karly: I just think - we can all agree that the ISU has said things about the sport dying and not getting as many fans, but there are things that they themselves could do to fix it. So it’s just…yeah.

Evie: There was the whole thing after the Olympics and during Worlds where massive amounts of videos on YouTube were being deleted due to copyright claims and one particular YouTube channel, 1tvDance, was taken down completely. And I can understand that from just a legal perspective that obviously you’re uploading something with copyright. But also, those kinds of channels are a lifeline not just to fans, but also the skaters themselves- like their families and stuff. They can’t watch live, they need to watch their kids, their relatives, their friends perform - they only have this kind of option to find their programs on YouTube. And now they’re actively taking it down.

Lae: And again, it’s one thing if they provided an alternative that was legal and was accessible to a wide range of audiences but…they’re not. So that’s what makes it not a good thing, or something that makes it very questionable.

Tilda: Yeah, and also, going after what happened at the Olympics - going after people who were making GIFs! (Hosts interject and laugh in agreement) Which is absolutely ridiculous! (Karly: Yeah!)

Lae: I think it’s really worth emphasizing how fan work is really integral in the figure skating ecosystem because the way that fans drive awareness of the sport, the way that the sport survives in between events is through fans creating content. It’s fans tweeting about it. It’s sharing photos, it’s sharing clips. It’s making these beautiful GIF sets. And it just is…confusing to me why that is the focus of what the officials of the sport are doing instead of trying to encourage that kind of thing. (Interjections of agreement) Why are you spending your energy on taking these things down for copyright when what they’re doing is essentially promoting your sport? It’s free marketing- it’s passionate, invested marketing. It baffles me.

Tilda: Besides the fact that it’s not good for new fans, it also alienates a lot of long-time fans who can’t really understand why they can’t share photos of their favorite skaters, and really makes people angry as well because they feel like all of this misguided…misdirection.

Evie: Yeah, I definitely agree with that and especially with like, baby fans - the first time fans of stuff - they don’t know where to go for things most of the time and the ISU doesn’t make a lot of the information about where to get streams or anything really public; you have to really dig for it. I remember when I first got into figure skating, I was relying so much on just sources that other fans had made. (Lae: Absolutely) There’s nothing official out there for us.

Lae: I think it’s worth emphasizing how much work actually went into these fan guides - these are like, thesis-level, detailed guides on jumps, it’s guides on how the GPs and the events work. These are such crucial pieces of information, and fans are doing that all for free. And it just seems, yeah like Tilda said, really misguided to be targeting those fans instead of trying to think of ways to work with them and to kind of create a system that integrates all of that media, so that you can ultimately promote the sport better.

Tilda: Can I just say that the ISU website is very, very confusing. (“Yep” “Oh god yeah” laughter in agreement). It’s very difficult to find things - just information about events. It’s like, you click one link and then you have to go through all of these-(Karly: Yeah…) oh my god.

Evie: It’s jumping through hoops…with fire…with sharks.

Lae: With icy winds.

Tilda: Trying to find the protocols, for example, after a competition, it’s like they don’t want you to find them?

Evie: Yeah I remember, that was a struggle when I first got into the fandom. I had no idea where to find the protocols and the full judges’ scores. I was just like, “where in the hell did you put these ISU?!” You’re not making the freaking sport accessible if you’re going to hide them away on some really crappy HTML based website!

Karly: Yeah I remember trying to go on the website during my early days- which was like, two months ago- and I was just like, yeah that was my one-and-done, I’m never going back to this website until I fully understand it. But going off the whole GIF crackdown and fan work crackdown, I’m really glad that I was on Twitter during the Olympics to get that before it was taken because if that wasn’t there for me, I don’t know if I’d be here as I am now.

Tilda: Especially during the off-season, I think (Karly: Yes, exactly) because there’s not a lot happening during the off-season so it’s really the fans who keep the excitement going, who keep discussing new programs, photos from ice shows for example (Lae: Absolutely) to sort of keep the momentum during the very long summer.

Evie: Because it’s a loooong off-season.

Karly: Yeah, it’s very important to keep that momentum going and taking away those sources can really be detrimental to the amount of fans you have and people invested in the sport you have.

Evie: Yeah, and speaking of taking away sources, like last week or the week beforehand was when US Figure Skating announced the end of Ice Network streaming and all of the services are going to be moving to NBC. I mean, Ice Network has been around for years and it’s a platform that fans know and, well not really love, but you know what I mean. (Laughter)

Karly: Appreciate the existence of.

Evie: Occasionally appreciate the existence of when the website works. You know, it’s been there and it’s a pretty good source of news and updates and stuff and has the livestreaming. And now, all of the fans are gonna have to go somewhere else, to NBC, and spend who knows how much money accessing their streams and stuff.

Lae: But even as an Australian fan, like I can’t pay for NBC - it’s geo-blocked I’m pretty sure. (Evie: Yeah.) So it just begs the question I guess of how much the organizers are aware that the fanbase is international and there’s a huge base of fans in Southeast Asia, in South America, in Europe as well who are willing to be more involved and to pay for official streams but are just not given the opportunity. And the reason why there is this base is because of the other fans who DO have access like, providing resources out of their own generosity and out of their own time. So it’s a complicated ecosystem I think and it is something that I think could benefit from a bit of examination by those who are in official positions and positions of power.

– end segment – 22:59

Karly: So now we’re going to be talking about Evgenia Medvedeva’s move to Brian Orser and her leave from Eteri.

Lae: I think that was the biggest news of this entire off-season so far.

Tilda: The most surprising.

Lae: The most surprising for sure. But what I think would be interesting to talk about in relation to this news is everyone has talked extensively about what the potential changes are and what not. So there’s no shortage of discussion about what she’ll be like in the future. But I think what’s kind of interesting to see was kind of how the entire thing broke over the fandom spaces and over Twitter spaces. And so I think one of the biggest things that came out of this whole thing was me feeling like wow, like it’s so important when these sorts of things happen to be very skeptical and to be very measured and rational about these news sources because a big thing like this? There will be so many articles coming out that may not be verified, that could be rumors wrapped up in a grain of truth. It could be people just giving their opinions based on things that were not confirmed. And I think it’s a good lesson to take away for a lot of new fans that like- I saw a lot of new fans just really freaked out by just how intense the entire fandom was. You know, you had this combination of Twitter freak outs, you had people sharing articles left and right, from various sources. And then people tweeting out rumors translated from Russian forums who were saying-

Evie: Google-translated Russian articles!

Lae: Google-translated Russian articles! So I think it’s just a real reminder that figure skating fandom is incredibly international, and at the same time, that’s amazing but also that, as new fans and as just consumers of media, I think it’s really important to double check sources, to not freak out too badly until you’ve heard official confirmation. And to just…wait. Sometimes just take a step back.

Evie: Yeah, with official confirmation stuff, like what- the rumors broke like a week ago that she was leaving Eteri- or was suspected to have left.

Karly: She was staying in the rink.

Evie: Yeah, exactly. There was the rumors about, you know, she would stay in Russia, she was going to stay at the rink. Oh, she might be moving to Toronto and train with Brian. She might be moving overseas and training with another coach. There’s so many little bits-(Lae: Representing Armenia!) (laughs) Representing Armenia! My favorite rumor! It’s just…you look at all of these things and you’re just like, okay let’s take a step back for a second. We don’t have official confirmation from the Russian fed about what the hell’s happening. Let’s not jump to speculation quite yet because there’s really not that much point in doing that other than creating a panic.

Tilda: The worst part is also that a lot of online newspapers were jumping on it? And saying like, way before it was confirmed as well, saying that yeah she’s definitely moving to Toronto, or at least wording it in a way that people interpret it as if it had been confirmed when it, in fact, hadn’t.

Evie: I saw a bunch of articles - both English and Russian articles that I Google-translated - that said that she is suspected to go to Toronto and train with Brian Orser. Like they would end the article like that and it would be very ambiguous. But at the same time, that was back when the official confirmation wasn’t through. So…click-baiting maybe?

Karly: Yeah, there’s a lot of click-bait.

Tilda: Yeah, she’s “expected to move”. It’s a very vague phrase. And also, the Armenia thing - didn’t they have an interview with someone and they asked, Could she move to Armenia? and the person said, well, she couldn’t say anything about it because there’s nothing to it. You can’t rely deny something that hasn’t even been discussed.

Evie: It seems that when that representing Armenia thing broke, that someone just looked at her Wikipedia page and saw that her dad was from Armenia and was like, “hey, we could make a story out of that!”

Tilda: Yeah, and then they asked someone too, like, could she switch to Armenia? And the person was like- (Karly: I mean I guess?) yeah, maybe?

Evie: She could, but then you also have to think about like, she would have to take a year off international competition before the ISU would let her represent Armenia, and a year in ladies figure skating? That’s like practically half a life-time.

Lae: I think yeah, in the context of when these sorts of panics are happening, I think that’s why as fans it’s important to appreciate that, while YOU might be feeling like oh this is huge news, I’m freaking out about it. I think when everyone kind of jumps on that without checking to see if it’s confirmed - that’s when it snowballs into this enormous panic. And so, in the interest of having fandom be a good and enjoyable place, sometimes that’s something to keep in mind when these sorts of news and rumors break out.

– end segment –

Karly: So now we’re going to be moving on to talking about Dancing with the Stars - which stars Adam Rippon, Mirai Nagasu, and Tonya Harding.

Evie: Yaaaaaay.

Karly: Good ol’ Tonya.

Tilda: Can I just say how amazing it is that the videos were uploaded like right away?

Karly: Great accessibility.

Tilda: Yeah! That’s great! Can’t figure skating do that? People were making jokes on Twitter like, oh it’s funny how you can see them dance immediately but you can’t watch them skate immediately after. It’s funny, even though they are skaters. But it’s…yeah.

Evie: It is a thing. They are on it. They are both doing VERY well considering the rest of the other people. Well, let me preface this by saying Mirai and Adam are doing very well. You know. There is the other one…

Karly: Yeah, and we can go on to talk about how the documentary “I, Tonya” has affected the views of Tonya Harding.

Tilda: The not-documentary.

Karly: Yeah.

Evie: Based on a true story.

Karly: The mockumentary.

Lae: It’s quite interesting how, I guess, “I, Tonya” if I understood it correctly, it was always marketed as a kind of black comedy, where the whole idea was that it revolved around unreliable narrators. It was not meant to present a particular viewpoint as fact; it was meant to draw your attention to the fact that there were so many conflicting accounts of what happened. There was Tonya’s testimony, there was her husband’s, and then there was also this focus on how the viewer, as this curious public- how we, as the audience, contribute to the framing of this narrative. And I think- I don’t know if it’s because the movie was made in a way where the conflicting perspectives thing didn’t come through properly? Or if it was just the way that the audience reacted to it. But there’s a concerning number of people taking it as just complete fact and accepting it completely on face value. And I think to a lot of people who had lived through that time, there have been articles written about how they just saw this entire thing as kind of a ret-con of history. It’s one view prevailing over the other, and Nancy Kerrigan’s side of the story being ignored.

Tilda: I mean, for a lot of us fans- first of all we’re international fans, so we don’t really have a stake in this story. And then second of all, a lot of us are too young to really have been there at the time. And there’s a lot of- you know, it’s a good story. (Interjections in agreement) It’s very engaging and I liked watching the movie. And a lot of people don’t realize that there is a truth, and there’s a way to engage with this appropriately because you know, she was banned from figure skating. And it’s not a cute movie story- it’s like real people’s lives. And a lot of people wanted to make it- with her comeback, with Dancing with the Stars, it’s like a cute end to her story.

Lae: The media loves hero narratives, the media loves redemption arcs. But it is worth questioning whether or not such a redemption arc is-

Karly: -deserved.

Evie: Deserved or even necessary.

Tilda: Because it is very odd to look at it from an outside perspective, to see what happened in the past, and then to see how the movie sort of brought back this entire discussion. Even as we’re discussing it right now is kind of strange with how far back it was, and then her comeback to Dancing with the Stars. And it seems like a huge narrative created for the perfect story, for click bait articles basically or…it’s kind of uncomfortable to me, as an outsider as well.

Evie: I definitely get that, yeah. We’ll include links in the bio of this episode with Mirai and Adam and Tonya’s full performances from Dancing with the Stars from the last couple weeks. So if people haven’t seen them, you can have a look there and enjoy the dancing of the figure skaters.

– end segment – 32:45

Lae: So moving on, we really want to talk about the trickling of new program news that’s happening in off-season, and this happens every year and always comes through a variety of sources. So, we had a bunch of ice shows happening in Japan so there’ve been glimpses of news footage from Japanese TV, there’ve been some updates on social media through Russian Twitter and Instagram. And also through some US ice shows as well. So I think we’re going to talk about our favorite new programs introduced so far because that’s always an exciting topic. So Tilda, I think you had some thoughts.

Tilda: So I’m a real fan of Wakaba Higuchi. I think she’s a terrific skater and she debuted a Michael Jackson program, which possibly could be a new exhibition. It’s quite long - apparently around 5 minutes. And I- just from short clips and photos, I think it looks great. And especially I really like that she seems to be trying out new styles and expressions, like getting a wider range, which I think is super fun because I always love when skaters try to test their limits, test new things, and take some risks. (Lae: Absolutely.) And I really hope that we can see a video of it soon enough (Evie: Hopefully!) because it really seems like she’s having fun with it.

Lae: I really appreciate ladies programs that do kind of push the envelope a little bit, you know, things that are a bit more upbeat, a little bit more…just a little bit different I think is always refreshing to see. And I’m really excited.

Tilda: A lot of people use the same- we talk about warhorses, like people using the same music over and over. So for me it’s always a lot of fun to see people try new music that hasn’t really been used in figure skating before because there’s so much potential. You can make it yours.

Karly: That’s my favorite thing about- especially with bringing it back to accessibility and watching the whole competitions you get such a range of music. And that’s what I love- hearing different interpretations of music we may not have heard before.

Tilda: Yeah, and I love that they can use lyrics now. I think that really brings and extra dimension to it as well.

Evie: Karly, I know you wanted to talk about a new program as well.

Karly: Well, I’m- kinda like what Tilda talked about with Wakaba doing something that was outside of her limits, Shoma Uno is bringing a program to Harry Connick Jr’s “Time After Time,” and it’s also a little more outside the box for him and I’m just very really excited to see any skater, really, do something that’s both outside of their comfort zone, and just in general, outside the sport’s comfort zone, music-wise.

Lae: We saw some clips of Shoma skating to a jazz program, and I think people were pointing out how choreography - because he was working with David Wilson- how it was very Canadian. (laughs) And it was kind of hard to describe what Canadian style choreography was but, I think Shoma, in an interview, said himself that this was a new style, that he was kind of hurting everywhere because he was doing new things, new moves that we hadn’t seen before. And I think that’s just wonderful, to have skaters push and work with different choreographers and really pushed to show something new. And what better time to do it than the start of a new quad? I think the first year is always the year of experimentation and taking risks, and defining yourself in preparation for this new cycle.

Tilda: And I’m also excited for Shoma’s Shae-Lynn Bourne exhibition as well.

Evie: Yeah, was it “Great Spirit”?

Tilda: Yeah exactly, and we haven’t really seen any footage so far.

Evie: We’ve seen like two seconds of it from Japanese TV! (laughs)

Tilda: And some pictures, and it looks…very, very different. So.

Evie: Yeah, different being the main one! (Laughter and agreement from hosts) Well, I’m really interested in seeing that Kazuki Tomono has put out a new program at Prince Ice World, the ice show in Japan, to Daft Punk. (Hosts: YES) And obviously, Kazuki hasn’t really been around for long on the senior circuit, you know, it was his first senior season this season and he really smashed it out of the park at Worlds (interjections of agreement). Saved the men’s free skate. (Karly: Definitely.) I’m really interested to see how he’s going to tackle the music once we’ve seen the full program. And plus we know that from a couple of days ago it got confirmed that he’s going to get a Misha Ge short program for next season which is really going to (Karly: I’m so excited.) I’m so freaking excited for it because Misha, I feel, with his choreography, he really gives skaters new and interesting movements that you don’t see a lot of choreographers give skaters. Stuff like Anna Pogorilaya’s “Scent of a Woman” - really crazy, new, fun, just fresh stuff that I really can’t wait to see what he’s going to bring to Kazuki’s short program.

Tilda: I think it also helps also that Misha is quite young. A lot of these choreographers are quite old and they may not really have- (hosts laugh)

Evie: Stephane Lambiel would like a word with you! (hosts laugh)

Lae: Old might be a relative expression here! (laughs) But you’re right in that, it always helps to have a new perspective and I think the new choreographers- the people who are just starting out- really kind of bring something fresh to the table, so hopefully that’s good experience for them as well.

Tilda: Also, choosing more contemporary music. (Interjections of agreement)

Karly: And with Misha just coming off the ice, you know, he’s still- not to bring in the whole younger thing but- more contemporary.

Evie: Definitely, yeah.

Tilda: Then we see the opposite end of the spectrum- Alina Zagitova- doing a short program to Phantom of the Opera. And, of course-

Lae: Obligatory post-Olympics program music! (hosts laugh)

Tilda: You know, I’m not a fan of Phantom of the Opera, as music.

Evie: Wow, I didn’t know that, Tilda! (hosts laugh)

Tilda: I’m sorry. Anyone who knows me knows that I don’t like the musical itself. I’m sorry. But also it’s been used a lot before, and there’s been some good programs to Phantom of the Opera, but…like we talked about, it’s always exciting to see people try new things, try new expressions, new range, and then I feel like it’s not very exciting to see these old…

Karly: It’s a little disappointing.

Evie: Yeah, it’s kind of- especially since we’re just coming off the back of the Olympics season, where skaters tend to go for the safer music choices. Going into the 18-19 season with a Phantom of the Opera program?

Karly: Yeah, it’s a little disappointing…

Lae: Yeah. I think, there’s always ways of making warhorses fresh, and there’s ways of making it something different. It just really depends- I think with warhorses you just really need to think outside the box when it comes to music cuts or what choreography- what aspects of that particular musical you want to focus on. And I think where the criticism of warhorses comes from is the very fact that people tend to fall back on cliched cuts of music or cliched aspects to highlight in the choreography. So, I don’t think necessarily criticism against warhorses themselves is always going to be a default, but it really just places such a huge duty on the part of the choreographer and the people coming up with the concept of the program to do…something different with it. And it’s obviously tougher than with a completely new piece of music.

– end segment –

Lae: And to sort of finish off the podcast, I thought we could maybe conclude with a recap of this whirlwind of an Olympic season and maybe our favorite moments? Defining favorite moments?

Evie: Well I think probably the stand out moment for me during the season was- well, obviously the Olympics had a lot of special moments, but one of the ones that made a significant on me was Virtue and Moir’s second win at the Olympics. And especially with their Moulin Rouge program in the free skate. Oh I just- when I first heard they were doing Moulin Rouge, I was like MMMMM okay, you know, warhorse program…that’s okay. And as we see the program develop over the season, it just gets better and better and better to the fact that, at Canadian Nationals, they got a completely perfect score. And then at the Olympics, we see them completely smash it out of the park and win that second Olympic gold. You could just see how emotional they were and it just completely blew me out of the water. (Karly: So good.) That was definitely the highlight for me.

Tilda: Definitely an Olympic highlight. For me- so I said I was a fan of Wakaba Higuchi right? And she did not have a great season. She wasn’t put on the Olympic team, which was, of course, a huge disappointment for her and also for me, as a fan since I was definitely cheering for her- so it was very disappointing. And then she came back at Worlds and she had an AMAZING free skate- truly spectacular. She really put everything out there and ended up with a silver medal, which was quite unexpected! And to me that was such a- you know, this is why a watch figure skating. This is, to me, what it’s like to be a figure skating fan, to have these moments. Like, you don’t expect them and they just hit you with these incredible stories. And when someone just skates their very, very best at a very critical moment and then to have these moments where you can see them crying- just, overwhelmed with emotion- and to experience that as a fan is just amazing.

Karly: Like you know, for me, my favorite moments of the season - I’m sort of a newer fan so I haven’t been here for this whole season - but - and you know the Olympics were a really cool time - but something that had an effect on me was Kazuki’s free skate from Worlds 2018. And we saw how he did in the short- it was his senior Worlds debut. He was there, kind of as an alternate, and he did so well in the short, and to go and perform that way in the free skate and have things more or less riding on him and, you know, the savior of the free skate of course - I go back and watch that and..it just gets me really emotional and I’m very proud. And even though I haven’t known of all these skaters for a long time, it just makes me really happy to see people do that well and just…his skate overall was very emotional for me. And I also have to agree with Tilda that Wakaba’s free skate was incredible, and I pretty much cry every time I watch it. (hosts laugh) Which is a lot because it was so good. And I made my parents watch it and they were also fans. (laughs) But overall, Kazuki’s free skate gets me every time.

Lae: And I mean, I think for me, this season has been characterized by horrific injuries happening left, right, and center- especially during the GP series. (everyone laughs in agreement) So, it was a tough season, I think and the two performances for me that really, just kind of…again, it makes figure skating- like you can’t make this up, you can’t make these narratives up. They’re more vivid than any novel you can come up with. But for me, it was firstly Boyang Jin’s Four Continents free skate and his short program - making that comeback after injury in his first competition back…it was just. I was just crying. Like, the emotions of knowing how hard he’s had to struggle through rehabilitation and sort of seeing that triumph is…that’s- again, why we watch figure skating I think. And I can’t finish that without inserting obligatory Yuzuru reference!

Evie: Wow! (hosts laugh)

Lae: Big surprise! Big, big surprise. But again, I think the story of overcoming injury, and of holding your nerve in your first competition back- I think that’s always such a relatable and crucial thing for any skater who’s been out for so long. And not all comebacks will go the way that Boyang’s and Yuzu’s did. But I think there’s something to be said about how they did that.

Evie: So in two weeks, our next episode will be hosted by Kite, Iman, Lo, and Kat. And they’ll be discussing the iconic programs from the 2000s as well as talking about commentary and its impacts on the sport as a whole.

Lae: And if you want to get in touch with us, please feel free to contact us via our Twitter @InTheLoPodcast. We’re open to suggestions, feedback, commentary, anything that you want to share with us. So thanks for listening! This has been Lae.

Tilda: Tilda.

Evie: Evie.

Karly: And Karly. See you soon!