2012 U.S. Figure Skating: What New Fans Need to Know

Do you love TV shows like "Dancing with the Stars"?

Last year, Yahoo! Contributor Network chronicled the brief "Skating with the Stars" season. The predecessors to this show were "Skating with Celebrities" and "Dancing on Ice." In the meantime, Canada's "Battle of the Blades" is in its third season. However, headlines from the ESPN figure skating news wire in October 2011 are announcing new promise now that ice dancing has taken the top billing at competitions like Skate America. This indicates America's need to watch figure skating athletes perform continues.

With the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics already buzzing with figure skating news, watching crucial competitions now will help you prepare to enjoy upcoming victories. For example, Jan. 22-29 will be the 2012 U.S. Figure Skating competition. This year's battle takes places in San Jose, Calif., and is not the only championship you will watch by the end of the season.

If you are new to figure skating, here are a few things that you need to know about watching this sport:

When does figure skating season begin?

In general, you should forget the logic that you cannot skate on ice if there are no freezing temperatures. Instead, the season begins in October, with regional playoffs and ends in March with the world championship. This, of course, is separate from any time lines involving the Winter Olympics. To find out where figure skating events are being broadcast, a great fan produced social media to watch are the FSTVSCH Twitter account, HeatherW.com, or GoldenSkate.com.

There is a lot of controversy over the Sky-Cam in figure skating

According to figure skating spectators, there is always a lot of controversy over whether or not figure skating is a sport. Other gripes you will hear in the dancing on ice world are focused on the Sky-Cam. There is even a petition online related to broadcast hosting via Sky-Cam that has over 130 signatures. Why do viewers hate the fact that the 2012 Worlds will be using them? As one fan said at PetitionOnline.com, "Sky-Cam is used inappropriately and we miss a lot of footwork because of it."

Figure skater celebrities on the rise in 2011

Last year, the celebrity buzz for figuring skating included names like Kim Yu-Na and Miki Ando. This year, the hype is about the return and departure of Evan Lysacek. Also making headlines is the Skate America win by Meryl Davis and Charlie White. As the season goes on, you will hear more about the newest figure skating celebrities as medals are secured at other preliminary international competitions. For instance, Alissa Czinsny recently took the gold at Skate America and is now one to watch for December's 2011 ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating.

Figure skaters in the Olympics

As for figuring out what athletes the fantasy league of figure skating will contain for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, think again. It can be next to impossible to speculate who will be asked to join. As it turns out, the figure skaters selected are chosen at the national governing body's discretion. This means an athlete can win a lot of medals and still not get the chance to compete in the Olympics. In the meantime, the skaters still have plenty of time prepare for the winter games and that certainly gives Americans plenty of opportunities to watch this amazing sport.

Maryam Louise is a life-long advocate of wintertime sports and outdoor living through her experiences in year-round farming, camping, and hunting in Western Kentucky. In her lifetime, she has also traveled to many of the world's greatest snowy mountain peaks in Yemen, Iran, Switzerland, and California.

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Updated Wednesday, Oct 26, 2011