In Pyeongchang, Figure Skating Gets a New Sound

Music with lyrics will be permitted in figure skating at an Olympics for the first time

When the U.S. Olympic figure skating team hits the ice at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games, don’t be surprised if you find yourself itching to watch “Moulin Rouge!”

That’s because, for the first time at an Olympics, skaters will be permitted to feature music with lyrics in their routines — and for U.S. skaters, the soundtrack from the 2001 Baz Luhrmann film is a hit.

Vincent Zhou, the youngest U.S. Olympian competing in Pyeongchang, will skate to a medley of “Nature Boy” and “Come What May” in his free skate — despite being less than a year old when the movie hit theaters. The pair of Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Chris Knierim uses “Come What May” in their short program this season.

However, don't expect an infusion of pop music from the U.S. team when the figure skating team event resumes at Gangneug Ice Arena Sunday morning with the women's and ice dance short programs. Bradie Tennell, who will skate the women's disicipline for Team USA, selected music from the Korean film Taegukgi for her short program, and the brother-sister pair of Maia and Alex Shibutani will skate to a medley of songs by Cuban bandleader Perez Prado in ice dance. 

Other U.S. team members who have selected songs with lyrics include Nathan Chen, a medal contender in men's figure skating who stumbled in his portion of the team event on Friday. Chen skates to “Nemesis” by Benjamin Clementine in his short program, while Adam Rippon may have the most adventurous choice among the United States’ contingent. Rippon's 2017-18 short program selection, “Let Me Think About It” by Ida Carr and Fedde le Grande, features synthesizers and a thumping beat that wouldn’t be out of place at a gym; for his free skate, he uses “Arrival of the Birds” by The Cinematic Orchestra and Coldplay’s “O.”

Music with lyrics has been allowed in figure skating since the 2014-15 season — just after the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Lyrics were already permitted in ice dance.

Not every U.S. skater jumped at the chance to add pop music to their routines. While some of their music does include lyrics, Karen Chen, Mirai Nagasu and Tennell — the 2018 U.S. champion — decided to stick with more traditional skating selections this season, such as medleys from “Miss Saigon” and “Cinderella,” or Chopin’s “Nocturne in C Sharp Minor.”

Aside from the United States team, keep an eye out for the pair of Yevgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov, competing for Olympic Athletes from Russia. In free skate, they have performed to a medley of Christina Aguilera’s “Candyman” and “Nasty Naughty Boy,” capped off with "Ready Teddy" by Elvis Presley.

Here is what the U.S. figure skaters will skate to at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics:

Karen Chen
Short Program: “On Golden Pond” by Dave Grusin
Free Skate: “Jealousy Tango” by varoius artists

Mirai Nagasu
Short Program: “Nocturne in C Sharp Minor” by Chopin
Free Skate: music from “Miss Saigon” by various artists

Bradie Tennell
Short Program: "Taegukgi" by Lee Dong-Jun
Free Skate: music from “Cinderella” by Patrick Doyle

Nathan Chen
Short Program: “Nemesis” by Benjamin Clementine
Free skate: music from “Mao’s Last Dancer” by Christopher Gordon

Adam Rippon
Short Program: “Let Me Think About It” by Ida Carr and Fedde le Grande
Free Skate: “Arrival of the Birds” by The Cinematic Orchestra and “O” by Coldplay

Vincent Zhou
Short Program: “Chasing Cars” by Snow Patrol
Free Skate: music from “Moulin Rouge!” by various artists

Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Chris Knierim
Short Program: “Come What May” from “Moulin Rouge!” by Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor
Free Skate: "Unchained Melody" from "Ghost the Musical" by Bruce Joel Rubin, Dave Stewart and Glen Ballard

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