I don't like not knowing why I like things any more than I like not knowing why I dislike things, so I've been going through YouTube again. I've come to the conclusion that most of the reason I like Stéphane Lambiel so much is that he doesn't really skate like a guy.

Mind you, he doesn't skate much like a girl, either. Female figure skaters suffer from a lot of the same things that irk me about ballerinas, like intense pressure to weigh nothing, and an insistence that their image be scrubbed clean of all suggestions of maturity or sex.

(Not that the men aren't sniped at for their weight. Brian Boitano is kind of infamous for getting really stabbity at people who bugged him about it when he was younger. He's nearly six feet tall, and he had judges suggesting he lose yet more weight even after he was down to what he considered his razor-thin Olympic fighting form. Given that he is the only male skater I've heard this about, I'm thinking that the young men are no less vulnerable to the pressure than the young women.)

The ballet-like emphasis on standing straight and tall and absolutely not wiggling at all means that many skaters seem to have forgotten that not only do their hips bend, but they can also rotate. I do actually appreciate a certain lack of risqué content in the sport; a lot of the competitors are underage, especially since no one has to do compulsory figures anymore, and the Olympics are really not the right venue for a python or a stripper pole. The restrictions tend to carry over into the non-competition exhibition programs -- mainly as the same judges will also be watching your unscored gala routine -- and spills over into ice shows, of which at least a plurality seem to be full of Disneyfied dainty princesses. You have to get into shows like Art on Ice (which is cast mainly with younger people who have no intention of ever going back to amateur status) before you start seeing choreography that makes the skaters look, to be blunt, like grown-ups.

I pointed out before that he sweeps into a lot of his spins contrapposto. It's characteristic of his style. Another one he's fond of is what's called a rollover, also used in dance -- it's the one where he reels himself around by arching to the side and swinging an arm at full extension over his head. The weight throw is so extreme on some of these that the center of rotation is shifted outside his body. It's always irked me that you can't really do that on floor. I mean, you can roll your arm over and turn, but your feet don't automagically go with, as they do on ice. You can rehearse until it looks easy, but learning and remembering to take enough steps to make that work feels awkward. What I think should happen doesn't happen, because gravity and friction stick your feet to the floor.

I suppose I just like the feeling of throwing my weight around. So to speak. If I'm going to have mass, I ought to be having fun with it. I tend to hyper-analyze movement like I do everything else, so having one part of me not do what my brain thinks is right is jarring. Since I'm also quite bendy, I can get maximum acceleration -- or at least the feeling of maximum acceleration -- by bowing and sweeping; few skaters do this, because of the aforementioned dignified ballet basis, so I find the ones who do very appealing.

Many of his signature moves are also less about showing off technical difficulty than about artistic effect. The cantilevered spin position with one arm twisted between his knees and the other arced above his head is actually quite stable even when stationary, as are most of the layback and hip-shot upright stances. They're his not because no one else can do them, but because no one else thought to do them before he got there. (He's been doing the twisty crouch spin since he was like twelve, which is completely adorable.)

There is also the matter of his heavy utilization of dance choreography, which I'm already used to. He doesn't necessarily dance much like a guy, either. (You think classical dance isn't sexist as well? HAHAHAHAHA.) He's got his paws all over himself all the time, for one -- feeling yourself up as a dance move is traditionally a girl thing, meant to emphasize body lines and sexuality over the more masculine ideal of strength and muscular control. Not that the ballerinas have never got hold of him, but it's quite contextual; most of his programs borrow heavily from jazz and other modern lyrical dance, and occasionally someone gets him to do cartwheels. I sincerely believe in stealing from absolutely anything that looks useful, so the lack of artificial constraints is right up my alley.

I also happen to like him personally in large part because he can locate somewhere between zero and negative one fucks to give about expected gender behavior. He and Weir apparently have a long-running "Britney vs Xtina" debate. I've no data on how he feels about the other boys, but he's pretty unsubtle about getting the attention of attractive girls; regardless, if he were worried about what other people thought, Johnny Weir is just about the last person on Earth he ought to be draping himself all over, which he does quite a lot even when they are explicitly aware of the cameras. Also basically every girl he knows, especially if they look upset, and some of the other guys, like Maxim Trankov. It seems to be a combination of personality and acculturation. His mother is from Lisbon. I've never been to Portugal, but unless they're radically different from their Spanish neighbors, I expect it's the kind of place where personal space is considered a quaint and puzzling Anglo-Saxon custom, like breaded sausages and being angry when things are five minutes late. He must have that on an on/off switch, or he'd drive people bonkers back home in Switzerland.

Lambiel is also so far the only skater I've seen both throw and be thrown, in casual pairs practice. He's strong enough to get some of the other singles skaters off the ice, but slight enough that the pairs guys can toss him around. (The men who skate pairs tend to be part orc. Makes it easier to do high or one-handed lifts with the tiny elfin girls.) Seems to be a matter of curiosity, and a complete failure to care if people think he's strange.

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