Aesthetics of Athletics: Figure Skating

Matthew Hamilton

By Matthew Hamilton

For junior Hayley Turner, ice skating is a balance between athleticism and art. On one end of the scale she works to perfect her turns, spins and jumps and on the other side of the scale she has to maintain good posture, position her hands and stay in tune with the music. Skating is unique because while Turner is showing off her technique she must keep in tune with the music accompanying her solo.

The music choice dictates the choreography and pacing of a piece according to Turner. If a repeated melody exists in a song, Turner might place a spin there. If a section of the music builds to a climax, she will place a jump at that moment. The addition of music also adds an artistic challenge. Skaters must be in tune with their music selection or they risk a disjointed performance. “You have to be in tune with the music and incorporate your posture and every single detail to the way you position your hands while you are doing your jumps,” Turner said.

In her own solo, Turner chose to skate to the Taylor Swift song “I’m Only Me When I’m With You.” The choice influenced the choreography and pacing of her solo. “It is really fast-paced so there is a lot of quick choreography and steps,” Turner said. “You work with the music to find where you want to put stuff in, and you have to keep in tune with the music and you have to be on the beat.”

The nature of skating allows each skater to prioritize certain aspects of their performance. Turner’s skating instructor, Caroline Soffa-Richardson, added that along with incorporating the music in her movements, Turner also has to make sure that her program is not just jumps and spirals, but also presentable.“The footwork on the ice is very important,” Soffa-Richardson said. “There has to be fast movements to make the program flow more and to make the program look pretty in between the spins and jumps.”

The balance of athleticism and art is different for every skater, according to Turner. “It is different for some people. Some people are very interested in the art and the technique and looking pretty and others are very athletic and like to do more jumps,” Turner said.

Regardless, for Turner, her preference is clear. She prefers to be a little bit more athletic. “A little bit more athletic because I love performing and I love the thrill of doing that, but I also love the thrill of going fast and jumping and spinning,” she said.