Review -- A Year in Figure Skating
by Beverley Smith

by Lorrie Kim
Originally posted to on December 5, 1996

Short review; haven't read it all the way through yet. But I think it's excellent. Same high quality as Figure Skating: A Celebration, but since it only covers one year, the book actually does better justice to details and complexities. Therefore, I like it better. Anyway, I think any of the years between Lillehammer and Nagano will be seen as a time of great change in the sport, and is worthy of a book on its own.

The book is not all Kwan or all Grischuk and Platov, as I had feared. It has good variety and no one skater/team dominates. Aside from covering the year's events, there are focus chapters on Israel, China, and a tribute to Grinkov with contribution from Marina Zoueva.

Big gripe: a second Asian language faux pas. In Figure Skating: A Celebration, Smith gushes that it's so "appropriate" that Kristi Yamaguchi's surname means "mountain mouse." Readers who knew that Yamaguchi means "mountain mouth" winced at that one.

On page 144 of A Year in Figure Skating: "When Zhang [Shubin] appeared at Skate Canada in 1985 with some mysterious Chinese letters on his track suit, it was a start, too. One letter was the figure for China, the other for the word 'middle.'

"'China is a middle country,' explained his Chinese translator, Evelyn Li. 'The people are neither aggressive nor passive.'

"But they are many, and diligent, and made for figure skating."

Argh! "Mysterious"? Please! And couldn't Smith have done a little research to know that "middle" is one of the two characters that make up the word "China" in Chinese?

Next: American skaters with mysterious English letters on their warmups spelling "U.S.A." What could it mean???

Many, diligent, and made for figure skating. So that explains it.

Anyway, I thought the rest of the book was worth the money. Unlike most other skating books, it didn't seem to have glaring factual errors (at least on my quick read-through).

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