Is women's figure skating... umm... crotch-oriented?

Just a superficial impression on my part, but apparently the ideal pose for woman figure skaters is one leg on the ice and the other 180° apart straight up in the air. And of course they always wear skirts, panties and hose rather than pants or tights. If this a “well, DUH!” observation, than I guess my question is why no one has commented on it, negatively or otherwise.

I’m sure there are some afficionados who wil come in and deny it, but I get that exact same impression.

It doesn’t help that it’s blatantly sexist. Or something-ist anyway. Notice how the winners are all pretty young women. Who’ve never had sex and who aren’t married. And who often look prebuscent no matter how old they are. It’s almost as bad as women’s gymnastics.

I’m pretty sure this isn’t the case, or even the assumption of the sport’s fans.

I didn’t realise the costumes were tight enough to be able to see that much detail.

Hey, that’s not fair; plenty of gymnasts are not pretty young woman.

Skating does seem to run to good looks and they mostly develop ballerina type bodies, but there are some exceptionally athletic ones.

Somewhere along the way, I lost interest in this “Sport” as the US coverage shifted from Wide World of Sports coverage to every athlete has a story coverage. I use to watch a lot of figure skating. I don’t think it was all that crotch oriented, but it was about grace. It was a very arbitrary sport at times with the awarding of scores.

Some of the skaters were stunningly good looking and others like Nancy Kerrigan were very pleasant Girls Next Store athletes good looking.

They seem to be getting younger in the last 10+ years. It might just be that I am getting older. Didn’t Tara Lupinski go to the Olympics at only 14?


Watch it in high def.

Me neither.

::makes note to watch next series of Dancing on Ice::

I was sitting on the HD fence until now. Thanks.

It’s not as bad as Beach Volleyball, where the **official regulations ** insist the women wear skimpy costumes.
Figure skating includes artistic elements, so there is a reason to have such costumes, but volleyball scoring is pure sport. Of course they get bigger crowds with the music and all…

You do realize that most of what you see is flesh-colored fabric, and not bare skin?

You just sold more high def TVs than the Super Bowl.

March 1, 1988, The Catalyst student newspaper of the College at Old Westbury, State University of New York. (me writing).

Perfect Ten?

Did you hear? American Olympic skater hopeful Debi Thomas’ bench personnel have complained that East German front-runner Katarina Witt is impressing judges with something besides skill and talent!

Anyone out there remember an Olympic figure skater named Dorothy Hamill? It wasn’t all that long ago that her picture appeared on magazine covers and in the sports section of American newspapers, tantalizing us and advertising our ice medal hopes.

I recall the caption that appeared under one such photo when it ran in the Albuquerque Journal (I happened to have been living in New Mexico at the time)…and it included the observation that “Ms. Hamill is short, only 5’1”, which has the effect of emphasizing her feminine contours…her outfit is tailored to accentuate this to make for a ‘pretty’ appearance on the ice, which plays a role in the delivery of women’s figure skating performances". Or something like that (I don’t happen to have it with me, but that’s the gist of it).

The Problem

I’ve been a would-be fan of women’s college basketball ever since Nancy Lieberman hit the Old Dominion courts. I say would-be because it’s hard to be a fan if you can’t follow the games, and they aren’t televised except on rare occasion…maybe because the sport of Pam and Paula McGee (USC), Janet Harris (Georgia), or Kim Mulkey (one-time great from Louisiana Tech) doesn’t often lend itself to drool-producing photos?

The beauty-contest aspect of certain women’s sports is not always so openly admitted. In our age, largely thanks to the women’s movement of the last fifteen years, many people have learned to speak of women’s skills and performance, control and grace and power, whether on the ice, over the balance beam, or on the tennis courts; to be drooling at the typewriter about a female athlete’s curves and contours just isn’t as socially acceptable as it once would have been.

But much of the change has been on the surface only: the sportscaster and sportswriter may speak of slashing backhands, but the illustrative photo always seems to focus in on those short tennis skirts…and, while I loved watching Mary Lou Retton vault her way to perfect scores as much as anyone did (I caught an early glimpse of her in preliminaries and was rooting for her all along), I also noted that most of those photos of her that were turning up everywhere you looked showed her, not in limber mid-leap, but smiling pixie smiles and doing wonders for the retail sales of red- white-and-blue Danskins suits.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying it’s sexist to enjoy watching athletes because you think they’re hot-looking or cute. But beauty shouldn’t be the basis for competition. Every beauty contest, whether it’s Miss America or Miss Black and Gold, perpetuates a beauty-as-the- contest mentality when it comes to women’s competition.

Debi Thomas: Victim of Sexism?

Well, the matter’s in the news again, folks, and for once there’s displeasure to be heard…maybe because this time Miss Cute Body On The Ice isn’t on Our Side?? So, Debi Thomas’s coach accuses the Olympic judges of giving competitor Katerina Witt higher marks because she’s sexier…I’m afraid it’s been a long time in coming and isn’t going to be resolved overnight. If we are going to take the Miss Beauty Contest aspects of women’s figure skating out of the picture (and women’s athletics suffers until that occurs), we are first going to have to reconsider exactly what it is that we’re rating when they glide out onto the ice. It may be necessary to ask the question, “Why is women’s figure skating oriented and evaluated according to different criteria than men’s figure skating?” Despite the genuine talent of Debi Thomas, Katarina Witt (incidentally, she and Thomas are long-term rivals and have crossed blades before) Dorothy Hamill, and Peggy Fleming before that, it may be necessary to ask whether or not we haven’t been crowning a Miss Olympics every olympiad all along.

Me, I’m thinking it’s high time some attention was paid to the serious female competitors who don’t look like they walked off of Atlantic City stage boards. I;m looking forward to following the career of one of America’s best, Karin Marshall, who is going to do wonderful things for women’s world-class lifting. I’ve seen her in the prelims against international competition. She scowls formidably as she comes out for her lift, already hoisting it in her mind, almost radiating hatred for the weight she’s determined to bear over her head. Then, quick and mighty, (the bar bending like a licorice stick as she moves), swoop! She steadies, knows it’s hers, and breaks into happy triumphant smile. After setting the weight down with a controlled release, she gives her victory leap into the air. When I saw her, she did a lot of lifting and a lot of leaping.

I hope to be able to watch her perform now and then. It sort of depends on whether or not her sport gets any media attention. Maybe if she put on a short skirt or a sexier leotard?

If you take sex out of the equation, why would anyone watch women’s sports? There are mens DIII schools that have better basketball teams than the best WNBA team. How often are they on TV?

We’re not talking about the bare-legs illusion, we’re talking about something else. Why do you think they call it a “camel spin?”

Well, the OP did talk about skaters wearing “skirts, panties and hose rather than pants or tights”…

Anyway I don’t really see any emphasis on crotch. Just a display of body posture accentuated by their arms and legs.

and note the inelegant circumlocution of the camel in the room here:

*Id. *


Well, they’re young women because few older women have bodies that move that way. The same applies to men; the 18-year-old football player is likely quicker and more flexible, and has more stamina than the 40-year-old. They’re pretty because they’re supposed to be: hair is styled and makeup applied and all their training means they never had a chance to get out-of-shape. I have no idea if the ones you’re seeing ever had sex or not; some of the ones I knew couldn’t get enough, to be totally honest. And finally, they probably look pre-pubescent because their physical development has been delayed due to the daily training, although more research is being done in this area–see this abstract, and from the link:

As for “short skirts, panties, and hose,” it has to be said that it’s really a leotard with a skirt sewn on–nothing different from the leotards that were worn in gyms and such for years, before women started working out in pants. IIRC, such outfits (one piece leotards with skirts) are mandated in the various figure skating rulebooks–it’s been years since I last saw one, but I do recall very strict dress requirements about what could and could not be worn in competition. Pants were always forbidden.

One more thing I see on preview: the camel spin has been called that for years. I’m sure it was in use before the term “cameltoe” came to mean what it does colloquialy today.

So why the crotch shots? I dunno. Partly balance, I suppose–you’re going to fall and fall hard unless you spread your legs to balance. Partly because it affords a certain level of difficulty–a spin is just a spin unless you can grab your foot and lift it over your head. Partly because of the laws of physics–you’re not going to be able to do a certain move unless you spread your legs so your feet each are on an outside edge. I’m no expert, but I come from a figure skating family, and lived with this stuff for years. There really isn’t anything sexual about it, regardless of the age of the skater–as with gymnasts, it’s all about being able to move freely.

And they get women defecting from the Court Volleyball routine. I read somewhere that a fair number of women who play Court Volleyball get fed up with the overly rigid coaches and confining rules, and the last thing they do before dropping out of the sport entirely is switch over to Beach Volleyball out of desperation. They’re usually pretty happy with the much looser structure, so they stay in the sport. Defections from Beach Volleyball to Court Volleyball aren’t anywheres near as common.

That’s all you needed to say in order to defeat your own argument, really.