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Young reporter learns figure skating etiquette from crowd

10 March 2019


At Platinum Arena, there isn’t just a routine for the competitors, but also one for the fans as well. For a newbie to figure skating like me, figuring out how to just watch the competition was a learning experience.


As the competitors enter the ice, the crowd erupts into applause. Then, as they get into their starting position, the arena goes dead silent, so quiet you could hear a pin drop. The music begins, and depending on the type of rhythm the spectators either clap or sing along, sometimes both.


They applaud every impressive move, gasp when a skater falls, and cheer when they land a big jump. When the contestant ends and takes his or her bows, toys are thrown onto the ice. The arena settles down as the skaters leave the rink, and then as soon as the athletes enter the waiting area and are shown on the big screen the crowd erupts again. It’s essentially the same for every routine, but usually Russian competitors receive more engagement from the audience.


During the performance one must be quiet, I quickly learned, as fellow spectators will snicker and shush you if you talk too loudly.


I had never seen figure skating in person until the first day of the competition here at the Winter Universiade. Sure, I had watched it on television during the Olympics, but watching it in person was a totally different experience.


I’ve heard the term ‘smart crowd’ thrown around at other sporting events, used at times when the spectators’ reactions are spot on. Well, I don’t think I’ve seen a smarter crowd then the one at Platinum Arena.


If a skater falls, there are no boos. There are no loud exclamations or people talking loudly trying to figure out what’s going on. Instead, the fans applaud and cheer, almost like they are trying to show the skater that it’s okay, that a mistake won’t kill them and that they are behind them 100 percent.


My favorite moment by far came during Thursday’s men’s final. Italy’s Matteo Rizzo performed to a Queen medley, an upbeat mix of all of the British band’s classics. The crowd ate it up and was on its feet singing and dancing the entire time. It felt like a show, and the spectators were having a grand old time watching the performance.


Four days of attending figure skating by no means makes me an expert on the sport, but with the help of this ‘smart crowd,’ I now know how to enjoy its beauty and difficulty.


By FISU International Young Reporter Danielle Allentuck at the Krasnoyarsk 2019 Winter Universiade