The Bottom Line:"Skating On Air: The Broadcast History of an Olympic Marquee Sport" makes it very clear that without the support of the media, especially television, that figure skating may not have become a popular sport or even a well-known sport. The information in the book will be of great interest to ice skaters, fans, and historians. Although it is a lengthy volume, Kelli Lawrence's writing style is easy to understand. Her book is also fun to read.
Guide Review - “Skating On Air: The Broadcast History of an Olympic Marquee Sport”:After reading "Skating On Air: The Broadcast History of an Olympic Marquee Sport” a reader will not only be taken on a wonderful journey through ice skating history, but also realize that without the hard work that was done by the media, that figure skating would have never become the popular sport it has become.
The very beginnings of the sport are first told. Readers will learn about ice skating legends such as Charlotte and Sonja Henie. They will hear the comments, memories, and thoughts of well-known people in figure skating such as Dick Button, Carol Heiss, Peter Carruthers, and Scott Hamilton. Readers will also get to go behind the scenes and find out how hard the media worked to bring the ice skating world's drama and excitement to the public.
Details of how skating became a highlight of the Olympic television coverage are told. That didn't happen automatically; the media made it happen.
One very entertaining story included in the book is Olympic Figure Skating Champion Carol Heiss's experience in the movie "Snow White and the Three Stooges." It may be interesting for readers to learn about the how professional skating competitions and specials may have over-saturated television's viewers with just "too much skating." Both the "Tonya-Nancy" and the 2002 Olympic ice skating scandals are discussed in length.
Readers may realize the change in scoring and the move to paid internet services such as icenetwork to watch figure skating may have changed figure skating's popularity. Watching figure skating for free on network television brought skating to the world; paying to watch skating is just not the same.
Also, viewers miss the commentating of the past. Fans wanted to hear what Dick Button and Peggy Fleming had to say. They loved the "up close and personal" stories that helped them get to know the skaters they admired. They liked Jim McKay introducing ABC's Wide World of Sports with the familiar "...the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat." They miss those those things, and can't quite pinpoint what is wrong with the figure skating coverage that still exists.
"Skating On Air" may show that the "glory days" of figure skating being on television may really be over, but there is a wonderful history of what once was on television available on YouTube and/or for purchase. Kelli Lawrence's book may also be one of the best resources available to guide figure skating fans through ice skating history. Anyone interested in figure skating will definitely enjoy reading the book.