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Author & USA Today Sportswriter Christine Brennan

Christine Brennan, has graciously granted the AYWFF permission to feature one of her articles. Ms. Brennan has written two very informative books that should be on every figure skating fan's "must read" list. In 1996, Inside Edge: A Revealing Journey Into the Secret World of Figure Skating was published, then in 1998, Edge of Glory: Story of the Quest for Figure Skating's Olympic Gold Medals followed. These can be purchased in most major bookstores or online at Ms. Brennan is often called upon for her opinions on the sport, in TV documentaries about figure skating and in features on its athletes. She also writes for USA Today, and her articles can be found on that newspaper's website under her "Keeping Score" column at:

Why Guys Should Get With The Skating Program

By Christine Brennan 2/8/02

Hey You. Yeah, you in Seat 27C. You with the wife and two daughters. I know what you're thinking up there at 30,000 feet. You're dreading the next two weeks. You know what you're in for. Figure skating. Hours and hours of figure skating. You don't even consider it a sport. Yet, for most of the rest of the month, it'll be Sequin City at your house.

What's a guy to do? Well, you could run away from home. Or you could try to appreciate why figure skating is the most popular televised sport among women and girls (hardly an insignificant demographic for advertisers) - and why even you might find it intriguing. (Unfortunately, Katarina Witt is not in this Olympics, although she is working the skating venue for German television. So if you have a satellite dish...

Rule No. 1: Stop saying it's not a sport. It is a sport. The old complaint that it's too subjective just doesn't wash anymore, not with the way the Bowl Championship Series picks its teams, or with the re-play decision that changed the outcome of the New England-Oakland playoff game.

Rule No. 2: Appreciate the unparalleled drama of skating competition. No sport has a more non-negotiable moment of decision. (I'm not counting boxing.) In basketball, there's a second free throw. In baseball, a third strike. In football, a fourth down.

But in figure skating, when a skater goes up for a jump, it's a make-or-break moment unlike any other, with no second chance built in.

When Brian Boitano left the ice for his triple axel in the short program at the 1994 Winter Games, he was a gold-medal favorite. When he landed on his hands little more than a second later, his chance for gold was gone.

Rule No. 3: Get over the makeup thing. Some men wear makeup when they skate. George W. Bush wears makeup when he gives a televised speech.

Rule No. 4: When they come off the ice after skating 4 1/2 minutes, and they're huffing and puffing, appreciate it. Hockey players take a breather after, what, a 1 1/2-minute shift?

Rule No. 5: Buy a Russian-English dictionary. Or at least learn to keep your Yagudins and your Plushenkos separate from your Slutskayas and Butyrskayas.

Rule No. 6: Remember that Tonya harding is not in the competition. It's fine to crack a Tonya joke every now and then, but that's eight years ago now, so try to keep it to one a night.

Rule No. 7: Don't laugh at the lingo. Learn it. It's not doubles, it's pairs. Yes, Kiss and Cry is an actual place, and never has a destination been so perfectly labeled.

Rule No. 8: Don't always seem so stunned by skating's popularity, on TV or otherwise.

Rule No. 9: It's politically correct to be on a first-name basis with skaters. You can argue abut the medal prospects of Michelle, Sarah, Sasha and Irina, or wonder who's better between Jamie and David and Elena and Anton.

Rule No. 10: Don't ask if Michelle is going to turn pro after the games. You're dating yourself. She's making $5 million a year. The pro, show-style world is drying up. It's not like the days of Dorothy Hamill and Peggy Fleming.

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