Scheherazade: Figure Skating
Linda Fratianne: Master jumper
Historically, Scheherazade occupies a special niche in ladies figure skating. A few great names skated to Scheherazade and left their indelible marks behind.
I can't say for sure if Linda Fratianne was the first to skate to Scheherazade, but certainly, among the legends her piece came first to my mind.
If you look at Linda Fratianne below, you will realize, if you are ignorant before, that figure skating is a momentum driven sport. There is hardly a moment she paused.
That's why in the 2014 Grand Prix Final Liza's tardy skating cannot be legitimate or qualified for competitive recognition.
Linda Fratianne in 1978: This video is poor in quality but her greatness still shines.
Linda Fratianne, the first triple jumper
Above is the legendary Linda Fratianne's performance on Scheherazade.
Fratianne was just explosive in that footage.
Fratianne not only unleashes superb jumps but also shows in an excellent degree of control how to keep the momentum going while maintaining immaculate postures throughout the program.
What is remarkable about Fratianne's Scheherazade is her impeccable handling of skating on ice and technical brilliance. More importantly, her masterful control of bodily moves is simply timeless.
What was great about those legends in the 70s was that their on-ice moves and upper body control were just incomparable.
Midori Ito in 1989
Midori Ito, Queen of acrobatics
This is another legendary program by Midori Ito.
In this incredible performance Ito simply whistles through jumps. Though much astounding her jumping ability appears, you can't help feeling stunted, however.
Contrasted with her towering talent as a jumper, Ito's other figure skating elements are not there: line, extension, flexibility, etc. More critically, almost hopeless to expect any sign of aesthetic evocation in her moves, especially due to physiological handicap.
However, Ito's jump has a few good qualities such as speed, height, and easiness. Even in today's perspective, Ito's jumps will qualify for +GOE while accuracy, air position involved her free leg, contextual flow and line, etc, are to be desired.
Given all that, Scheherazade is not a good choice for Ito. Musical textile seems incompatible with Ito's acrobatic features, characterized by speed, power, and energy.
It's just that figure skating is a physiological sport.
A combination of short height, athletic build and stocky body type will help skaters handle jump better, but at the same time, that will significantly impede physiologically oriented elements such as flexibility, line, extensions, bodily control, etc.
Michelle Kwan in 2002
Michell Kwan: Queen of the 2000s
Michelle Kwan is not a Peggy Fleming like skater.
Rather Kwan is more like Midori Ito, short and rather stocky.
At the time, jump quality wasn't much prominent in Kwan's skating. Kwan's competitive management skills gave her longevity, but in comparison with Midori Ito, Ito was much greater a jumper than Kwan
You will easily realize how marvelous a jumper Midori Ito once was prior to Kwan.
But unlike Ito, Kwan is a more rounded and more proficient skater, and one of the most influential skaters of all time. Thanks to Kwan's Scheherazade, we now have Yuna Kim's version on Scheherazade.
Yuna Kim in 2009
Yuna Kim, Master of triple-triple
It is one of Kim's masterpieces. Especially produced at the height of Kim's career it remains one of Kim's most definitive programs.
Along with Danse de Macabre performed in the same year, Kim's Scheherazade shows jaw-dropping potency in skill and tenacious execution in terms of power and speed.
But if Danse de Macabre is predominantly full of her power and control, Scheherazade adds aesthetic sensitivity into the program.
If you look at it carefully, however, especially in comparison with Kim's later pieces such as James Bond or Gershwin or even Les Miserables, the level of maturity may feel a bit less.
Kim is not categorically a power skater, but here she is certainly able to exert as much strength as any power skaters in addition to her artistic expressiveness.