Figure skaters on how they choose music for programs

BEIJING — For casual viewers, this may be what stands out.

For Olympic figure skaters, this can pave the way to a medal.

The music behind a figure skating program plays a vital role on many fronts – setting the tone of a performance, shaping the choreography and, in some cases, even helping to fuel the emotion of skaters on the ice. It can be one song or several assemblies. Something iconic, or relatively unknown.

“There are a lot of them,” said American pair skater Brandon Frazier when asked about the process of selecting music for a program. “We try to find music that we relate to. That’s number one. We rely a lot on our choreographer’s opinion, what they see us doing. … But overall, when we skate on it, we have to feel it.”

There’s also the obvious: when you choose a song for a program, you sign up to skate there almost every day, for months at a time.

“You hear this music every day. You do the same moves every day,” said Olympic gold medalist Nathan Chen. “So if something isn’t fun to skate, it becomes kind of a chore for a while.”

Here are some of the songs that have served as the soundtrack to Olympic figure skating so far, and why skaters have chosen them.

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“Black Magic Woman” and “Shake It” by Carlos Santana

Donovan Carrillo, Mexico, Men’s Short Program

“My father is one of his favorite artists. I always thought about skating on something like Santana. I talked to my choreographer, with Benoit Richaud, and I offered him a few songs. I I chose ‘Black Magic Woman’ and he chose ‘Shake it.’ We did the mix and I think the end result was amazing. That’s something I always try to do with my performance, to involve Mexican culture, because Carlos Santana is Mexican. I always try to think of different artists who can help and motivate me to represent my country at the world level, or in this case, at the Olympics.” — Carrillo

“Contact”, “Touch” and “Within” by Daft Punk

Madison Chock and Evan Bates, USA, free dance

“It was actually (coach) Marie-France’s (Dubreuil) idea to have a space-themed program. We were like, ‘Wow, that’s a really interesting idea. . Sure why not ?’ And as the concept became more real, it really resonated with us, because I love the idea that there’s life outside of our planet. I mean, there has to be. having some, with the size of the universe. So that’s such a cool thing to think about and embody when we’re running this program – just to recognize that there are things that are bigger than us. It makes me appreciate skating so much more, because it’s our little part of the world that we share our passion and joy with others through.” — Stall

Madison Chock and Evan Bates compete in the Ice Free Dance during the Beijing Olympics at Capital Indoor Stadium.

“Fix You” by Fearless Soul, Coldplay

Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier, USA, long program in pairs

“I brought this free program to the table at the start of the season. It meant a lot to me, personally, throughout my career. If you really dive into the lyrics and stuff, it’s just about wrestling and finding exactly what you need and always looking for more, and then in the end, getting what you get and going full circle in life That’s what I feel like my career of skater meant to me, and Alexa being the amazing partner that she is, opened up to that.” —Frazier

“At a very fragile time in our skating careers, we came together to help each other – to fix each other.” — Knierim

Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier compete in the Pairs Free Skate of the Figure Skating Mixed Team Finals during the Beijing Olympics at Capital Indoor Stadium.

Memoirs of a Geisha by John Williams

Misato Komatsubara and Tim Koleto, Japan, free dance

Japan's Misato Komatsubara and Tim Koleto perform in the free dance portion of the Figure Skating Mixed Team Finals Ice Dance during the Beijing Olympics at Capital Indoor Stadium.

“We wanted to do something that would make the Japanese people proud. We asked (Wang) Shiyue and (Liu) Xinyu, the Chinese couple… we asked, ‘We’ve never been to the Olympics. what kind of music are people going to like?” And they said, “You know, people like to showcase countries. They want to see different stories from each country.” ” – Komatsubara

“But of course there were concerns, especially for me. I don’t want to be disrespectful, as a white male, so we wanted to come up with something that had a Japanese theme but maybe not too folksy, so we didn’t fall into some kind of disguised territory for Halloween or anything that might be disrespectful to Japan. So we did this program together…an American movie with a Chinese-American man (Yo-Yo Ma) doing the beautiful orchestration of the music. We thought it was a great convergence of all the elements of our history that got us to where we are now.” —Koleto

Elton John’s “Rocket Man”

Nathan Chen, USA, Men’s Long Program

“The program was introduced to me by Marie-France (Dubreuil) in Montreal. She coaches a lot of dance teams here at the Olympics. And I trust her a lot. … I have generally, historically, skated quite slowly – more up-tempo, more classic stuff. So bringing that faster beat, a very exciting, very happy program, that wasn’t something that I had totally adapted to, I guess, from the start. But when we started working on it, it was something that just made sense. And it was so much fun to skate in practice.” — Chen

Nathan Chen completes his routine en route to the gold medal in the men's figure skating competition.

“The Sound of Silence” from Disturbed

Nikolaj Majorov, Sweden, Men’s Short Program

“I need something, for a short, that starts off easy and then builds. And this song is a really good almost remix of the original, which is more powerful. … In the original, it’s It’s a guitar and the same lyrics. More of a song you could fall asleep to. But Disturbed really made a really nice song, actually. And Disturbed is a heavy metal band, which I like too. I like metal music and rock. … So that was much more suited to me.” —Majorov

Sweden's Nikolaj Majorov performs during the men's short program of the Beijing Olympics team event.

Contact Tom Schad at [email protected] or on Twitter @Tom_Schad.

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