Skating on Air

The Broadcast History of an Olympic Marquee Sport


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About the Book

Of all winter sports, none is so widely watched and commented upon by the media as figure skating, which is often considered the Winter Olympics’ centerpiece. This critical text examines the ways in which media attention has gradually altered and affected the sport, from the early appearances of Sonja Henie, to skating’s gradual audience growth via television, and to the ramifications of the scandals in the 1994 and 2002 Olympics. The topic is illuminated by more than 30 interviews with commentators, skaters, producers, directors and others. In addition to numerous photos, illustrations show the compulsory figures for which “figure skating” got its name, as well as a sample of the charted-out “camera blocking” for TV directors. Appendices include collected anecdotes from early broadcasting experiences; a profile of broadcaster Jim McKay; and commentary from Carol Heiss on her 1961 musical Snow White and the Three Stooges.

About the Author(s)

Kelli Lawrence, an award-winning freelance writer and producer, has published in Skating, PSA Magazine, and several other publications. She lives in Indianapolis.

Bibliographic Details

Kelli Lawrence

Foreword by Verne Lundquist   

Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 244
Bibliographic Info: 73 photos, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2011
pISBN: 978-0-7864-4608-7
eISBN: 978-0-7864-8544-4
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      vii
Foreword by Verne Lundquist      1
Introduction      5

1. From London 1908 to Hollywood 1948: Figure Skating Before Television      7
2. Barely a Small Screen Sport: Skating Through TV’s Golden Age      17
3. Ashes to Icons: TV and Figure Skating’s Alliance of the 1960s      28
4. When the Ways of Television Helped Change the Ways of the Sport (1969–73)      41
5. Skating Up Close and Personal in the 1970s      52
6. Big Deals and Bigger Personalities: Skating Meets the ’80s      68
7. Leaving Figures Behind: The Road from Calgary to Albertville      85
8. The Brightest Lights for the Darkest Reasons (1994)      103
9. Here a Skater, There a Skater: The Pro Explosion (1994–98)      117
10. The Saturation Point and the Saga of “Skategate”      134
11. Televised Skating Post-2002: The Hard Fall      157
12. Fragmented, Not Broken: Figure Skating Pushes Forward      174

Afterword      199
Appendix A: Profiles of Interviewees      203
Appendix B: Doug Wilson and the Art of Camera Blocking      208
Appendix C: Tales from the Trenches      211
Appendix D: Jim McKay, the Ultimate Professional …Who Never Liked Figure Skating      214
Appendix E: When Heiss Met Hollywood      216
Appendix F: The “Nicely Done” Pool      219
Chapter Notes      221
Bibliography      227
Index      229