Saturday, November 26, 2005


Leap into the broadcasting void

Tenley Albright

During these off weeks on the international figure skating scene, meaning when there's nothing of the Grand Prix playing on ESPN or ABC, I rely on my new subscription to the Figure Skating Channel (I got in on the early bird special at $99 per year, thanks to a financial gift from my ever-sensitive mother -- thanks Mom!). Through this wondrous connection, I can view local, state and regional events, and the channel is also slated to broadcast the national meet early next year. Sorry, no international events; only those sponsored by the US Figure Skating Association, it seems, plus, through some miracle of marketing synchronicity, I'm sure, the British Championships, though I haven't read the fine print. I was under the impression the Channel would allow me to watch international events without having to adhere to a television schedule, but I've found that everything but those events is available.

Not to worry. It makes me feel like a real insider. Slaving through the poor video and sound quality of most of the event recordings is enough to test any usually surefooted fan's bearings, so I feel I'm enduring a sort of test sitting through some of this footage. I'll tell you one thing: It really makes you appreciate the level at which TV-ready, world class skaters perform. So if you're truly committed to seeing the whole, unruly, inconsistent, passionate, often poorly filmed picture, I highly recommend the Figure Skating Channel; but beware: it's charms will be lost on any but the fellow skater and the diehard enthusiast. If you're looking for pre-packaged glamour, better stick to the networks, Babe.

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