Sunday, January 24, 2010

Web Brings Skaters’ Lives Uneasily Close to Fans’ Obsessions

NYTimes.com: "SPOKANE, Wash. — When Brian Orser received an e-mail message last fall from an admirer of his star figure skater, Kim Yu-na of South Korea, he wrote it off as another piece of fan mail.
The fan, a Canadian teenager, gave his name and attached his photograph, asking Orser for his help in setting up a rendezvous with Kim, the gold-medal favorite at the Vancouver Olympics. Orser, Kim’s coach, wrote back and said thanks, but no.
“I quite regularly get e-mails from people sending Yu-na their support or best wishes,” said Orser, a two-time Olympic medalist for Canada. “And this one seemed fine, until a few more e-mails came from the same e-mail address, but now the guy was using a different name each time. He was professing his undying love for her and that he would do anything to meet her.”
In figure skating, those obsessions are nothing new. To see some of the skaters who soon will command the spotlight in Vancouver, fans this week have traveled to the United States Figure Skating Championships here from as far away as Russia and Japan.
They are drawn to the elements of skating that often make the sport a television hit every four years: the costumes, the music and the graceful beauty and athleticism of young men and women.
Those elements, however, seemingly conspire to create fans who take their interest to the verge of obsession — and beyond."

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