Friday, August 16, 2013

Review: Inside Edge

This is Brennan's expose on figure skating, the figure skating of the 1990s, that is. Basically, Brennan finds all sorts of corruption in the highest levels of the sport. Judges trade support for skaters from each others' factions. The Cold War may be over but it was still alive and well in 1990s figure skating, as formerly communist countries aligned as did the US, Canada, and western Europe.

Of all the things to say about this book, the most important is that it is out of date. Michelle Kwan was an up-and-coming teenager when this was written. This book was written pre-IJS, and that's only one of the many things that has changed in the sport. While I don't deny that there are still problems and accusations of favoritism, IJS has solved, or at least greatly lessened the kinds of judging problems Brennan illustrates. For the figure skating fan of 2013 this book reads more like a historical document.

My main issue was a much more esoteric one. For all the time that she spent researching and reporting on figure skating, I never really felt like Brennan had a deep, emotional connection to the sport. While she recognizes the difficulty of the sport, Brennan just never seemed to have the spiritual attachment that is evident among figure skaters and many fans. I really think this book could have been written more effectively by someone with that emotional attachment. That's why people do this crazy thing, where they whiz around a slippery surface on quarter-inch blades. There's something in the body movements and the music that makes the moment transcendent.

Christine Brennan, Inside Edge: A Revealing Journey into the Secret World of Figure Skating (Anchor, 1997) ISBN: 0385486073 

No comments: