Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Inside Edge by Christine Brennan

Figure skating is a sport that captivates it audience. Behind the sequins and glitter there is hard work and strength; behind the perfectly made up faces there is heartbreak and sacrifice. In Inside Edge, journalist and author Christine Brennan goes beyond the surface to profile skaters - veterans, stars, up-and-comers and a year in the life of figure skating. Beginning where the 1994 Olympics leave off and culminating with the 1995 World Championships, this is a book that figure skating fans cannot miss.

I received this book as a young figure skating fan in 1996 and immediately read it from cover to cover. When I was at home over Christmas, I picked up my dog-earred hardcover copy and read it again. I was amazed by the level of detail in this book and how candidly some of the people involved spoke about the sport. Some of the chapters become interesting because of what came later - Tara Lipinski is profiled as a young junior skater who might be trying to do too much too fast (she would win the 1998 Olympic gold medal, although in 1995 she was not able to win the junior national title), while Rudy Galindo is looked at as a perennial also-ran who was destined to anonymity (he would win the 1996 national title and the 1996 world bronze medal). This book is a snapshot (or maybe a series of time lapse photographs) of a particularly interesting time for skating. Post-1994, skating enjoyed some of its highest levels of popularity, so there were incredible outlets for skaters to develop their art, perfect their skills, and earn money.  It was also a time of a number of different threads that would shape the sport for many years to come: the shift of the top women skaters from young women to young teens to even younger teens, the portrayal of masculinity shown by Elvis Stojko and others, the necessity of having the top triples and quads to compete, the conflict between the sport's professionals and amateurs. Beneath all of this is incredibly solid writing and a skill at asking the right questions. Even though it's now more than fifteen years since it was published, Inside Edge still stands as a must-read book for skating fans.

Find it at IndieBound. 

Read it with:
Edge of Glory by Christine Brennan
Figure Skating: A Celebration by Beverly Smith
A Year in Figure Skating by Beverly Smith
A Passion to Skate by Sandra Bezic
Stars on Ice by Barry Wilner

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