The Ice Dance events from the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver gave viewers a greater appreciation for this sport of athleticism and artistry. Despite being a relatively new sport (Ice Dance has only been a recognized Olympic sport since 1976), the sport has evolved quickly and is continually one of the most watched events of the Winter Olympics.
What did viewers find in Vancouver? Extremely well executed routines, stunning costumes and entertaining music. Jane Torvill and Christopher Dean’s performance to Bolero at the 1984 Winter Olympics is a classic, but comparing that performance to those at the 2010 Winter Olympics shows just how much the sport has evolved.
Internationally, figure skating is governed by the International Skating Union (ISU). At the ISU’s 53rd Ordinary Congress held 14 June – 18 June, 2010 in Barcelona, Spain the delegates approved changes to the format of ice dance competitions. Previously, ice dance competitions consisted of three events: a Compulsory Dance, an Original Dance and a Free Dance.
The Compulsory Dance consisted of a set pattern of steps that each couple was expected to skate. The music was provided with several different songs being played, however the tempo of each song was consistent. Scoring was based on the couples expression of the dance and music, accuracy and quality of the steps and the partnering of the couple.
For the Original Dance, the theme of the dance and the required elements were selected by the ISU while the music selection and the choreography, as well as additional steps, were left open to the skaters.
For the free dance, the ISU specified the required elements but all other aspects were left open to the skaters. At the ISU 53rd Ordinary Congress, however, “a new format of competition in Ice Dance consisting of two parts/segments: a Short Dance and a Free Dance was approved (http://www.isu.org/vsite/vcontent/content/transnews/0,10869,4844-128610-19728-18886-308030-3572-4771-layout160-129918-news-item,00.html).”
The new Short Dance component has been referred to by some as the “frankendance”, indicating a somewhat scary dance with a hodgepodge of requirements. The exact specifications of the Short Dance have yet to be published by the ISU. There are mixed feelings about this change. Many enjoy the compulsory dances – they provide an opportunity to compare each couple by a consistent measure and bring more of a ballroom dance feel to ice dance. Others have felt that the compulsory dances are outdated and restrict the freedom of the skaters.
Another change to Ice Dance came as a result of the medal standings in Ice Dance at the 2010 Winter Olympics. Until the 2010 Winter Olympics, no North American team had over won a gold medal in Ice Dance. The Russians have dominated the world ranking in Ice Dance in the past.
So what is the future of ice dance? It is bright and the future will certainly contain even more impressive skating.