Michelle Kwan, Sarah Hughes opine on skating to lyrics

Michelle Kwan
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Five-time World champion Michelle Kwan said she would have incorporated music with vocal lyrics into her programs had it been allowed during her competitive career.

“I often thought about that when I was skating,” Kwan said.

New ISU rules will allow singles and pairs skaters to perform to music with words this season. Ice dancers were already allowed to skate with lyrics.

In the spring, active U.S. Olympic skaters were mixed about adopting the change for this season. But recent U.S. singles champions Max AaronJeremy Abbott and Gracie Gold have debuted programs with lyrics with the Grand Prix campaign starting next week.

Aaron’s short program at his season debut was to “Footloose” by Kenny Loggins. Abbott’s short program uses “Lay Me Down” by Sam Smith. Gold performed her free skate to vocal music from “The Phantom of the Opera” in Germany in September.

The notion came to Kwan during her career, which ended in 2006, because of a rule that allowed a voice to accompany music, but not words (such as Russian Maria Butyrskaya‘s short program at the 2000 World Championships).

Sarah Hughes, the 2002 Olympic champion, liked the new rule as a sign the sport is progressing. She also cautioned that lyrics can be a bit distracting, especially at the lower levels.

“With the right person, I think it could elevate the performance to another level,” she said.

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