When figure skaters compete, they are being judged on more than their technique. While other sports only care if you have proper technique, ice skaters must have much more. They must also have grace and perform artistically. The skaters that lack grace but have excellent technique do not do so well in competitions as those who are graceful and have good technique. The requirement to be graceful and feminine on the ice causes figure skating competitions to resemble more of a beauty pageant than a sport based on athletic ability. The artistic component of Olympic figure skating should not factor into the athlete’s score because it diminishes the value of technical skills needed for this competitive sport. In order for figure skaters to be judged as athletes, they need to be judged on their athletic accomplishments and not on how they look or their artistic performance.
The best athletes in America go on to compete in the winter Olympics. The winter Olympics, hosted every four years by a different country, is the only place to see so many talented athletes all competing at the same time. One Olympic sport, figure skating, is not judged the same way as the other sports are. Unlike other sports that focus on technical ability, figure skating also focuses on artistic ability. A panel of judges rate the athletes on two categories, then add those categories together to compute the final score. The first category is technical skill. The category encompasses the more athletic part of figure skating such as the jumps and spins. The second category is the program component part, which encompasses the artistic values of the performance.
Figure skaters receive their scores based on the level of difficulty of their technique, and also how artistic their performance was. However, if two figure skaters “are of equal merit, artistry weighs more heavily than technique” (574). This emphasis shows how important it is for the female athletes to appear graceful and artist on the ice. If they want to win, they need to do it wearing a revealing dress, lots of makeup, and each hair must be securely put in place. A smile also has a lot do to with their scores. One figure skater, Midori Ito, explained her poor performance was due to not smiling enough on the ice (574). Judges do not want to see female athletes sweating it up on the ice; they want to see graceful women floating around looking like an ice princess. The added pressure to be “pretty” over “athletic” has turned the attention away from performing complex technical (and athletic) routines, to performing them in an artistic manner that that emphasizes looks over talent. The success of “pretty” ice skaters leads young female athletes to believe that they too must be “pretty” if they want to win.
Since Olympic figure skaters are the cream of the crop when it comes to figure skating, their performance is heavily televised and receives a lot of attention. During the winter of 1996-1997, figure skating was televised...