I’m so excited to have Elizabeth Harmon back with us today! I can’t wait to check this one out. I may have had fantasies of being a figure skater once upon a time… if only I had talent!

Hi everyone, and thanks Mary, for having me as a #FiveOnFriday guest!

My new release Shining Through is a sports romance set in a sport that lots of people aren’t familiar with—competitive figure skating.

Figure skating takes a high profile every four years as one of the Winter Olympics’ most popular sports.  But there are a lot of misconceptions about figure skating, one being that it isn’t actually a sport at all!  (It is.)

In addition to being graceful and artistic, it’s demanding physically—not to mention dangerous.  Imagine jumping into the air, spinning four times and landing not just on one foot, but on a sliver of steel less than a quarter-inch wide.  That’s tough enough on solid ground, but on hard, slippery ice?  Yikes!

With the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyongchang coming this February, it promises to be an exciting skating season. So for this #Five On Friday, I thought I’d share Five Things You May Not Know About Figure Skating. (All photos were taken by my friend Roseanne Pontillo at Skate America, 2014)

#1 – It’s more than just the Olympics

While figure skating gets the most attention in Olympic years, the sport has an annual competitive season that runs from August through April.  In addition to national and world championships, there’s a series of six international competitions known as the Grand Prix of Figure Skating, which takes place over six weeks in six different countries!  Though skaters compete in just one or two Grand Prix events, that’s still a lot of miles.

In Shining Through, American skater Tabitha Turner is competing in Star Spangled Skate when she first meets Russia’s Bad Boy of the Ice, Daniil Andreev.  Sparks fly and when Daniil tempts Tabitha to take a secret walk on the wild side, both get more than they bargained for.

#2 – It’s young and done

Like gymnasts, figure skaters, especially in the women’s discipline (“ladies” in skate-speak) keep getting younger.  Tara Lipinski won a World figure skating title at 14 and an Olympic gold medal at 15. Karen Chen,  one of the U.S.’s current top ladies’ skaters, medaled at U.S. Nationals when she was 16. Polina Edmunds competed for the U.S. in the 2014 Olympics before she had her driver’s license. Japan and Russia also have a number of rising teenage stars, like 14-year-old Elena Radionova, shown above.

Twenty-three year old Tabitha knows that the window on her competitive career is closing fast.  The Grenoble Games are her last chance to reward her family’s sacrifices with Olympic gold.  But a determined 16-year-old rival isn’t going to make it easy.

#3 – Skaters perform the same program throughout the season

I once thought skaters created new routines for each competition.  In reality they work for months with their coach and choreographer, as well as specialized coaches to refine their jumps and presentation.  In competitions, the programs must be performed perfectly for skaters to obtain the maximum number of points for each trick (“elements” in skate-speak). Not only do the programs showcase the skaters’ athleticism, they also tell a story.

Daniil’s powerful,  angsty program to Imagine Dragons “Radioactive” captivates Tabitha, who longs to bring more passion to her pretty, but lifeless skate to music from the opera, “Antigone.”  A week working one on one with him in Vancouver helps her unleash her passion on the ice, and off.

#4 – It only looks easy

Elite figure skaters make their sport look effortless, and some people believe that it actually is!  In reality, skaters usually start as children and spend a decade or more before they reach the elite  Senior level.   And just because a skater falls, doesn’t mean that he or she isn’t “good.”  Just as strike-outs and errors are part of baseball, falls are part of skating,  especially when you’re performing crazy-difficult moves like combination jumps and 4-rotation “quad” jumps.  Skaters learn to fall safely, in order to avoid injury.

#5 – The scoring is confusing

Actually if you watch figure skating you probably know this. ☺  While I’m not an expert I’ll try to give a down and dirty explanation.  Skaters receive two sets of scores. Grade of Execution is for how well they perform the moves in their program. Program Component relates to the program content, the skater’s skills and overall performance. The two are added together for a skater’s segment score.  Segment scores (for the short and long programs) are added together to determine who wins the competition.

Sounds simple on the surface but its not uncommon for a skater who fell to receive a higher score than one who didn’t.  The reason usually has to do with the skater who fell having a higher Program Component score than the one who didn’t, either for a better artistic presentation OR more difficult content.  A friend who competes in the Adult  division of figure skating  often jokes about ‘spin to win,’ because certain spins are worth more than jumps.

Are you a figure skating fan or just getting to know the sport?  Leave a comment below and add Shining Through to your Goodreads To Be Read list, and you’ll be entered to win a digital copy!

Thanks for reading! Elizabeth

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Shining ThroughWhen the sweetheart of American figure skating falls for the bad boy of Russian figure skating, it puts her quest for Olympic gold on thin ice. Dirty Dancing meets Olympic figure skating in this sweet and sexy sports romance!

The Biggest Season of Her Career…

America’s sweetheart Tabitha Turner is on track to win figure skating gold in the Winter Games. Her family has sacrificed everything for her career, but the pressure is taking its toll. Burned out and living a lie, can Tabitha let off a little steam without melting the ice?

The Last Chance of His…

Russia’s bad boy of skating Daniil Andreev is determined to prove the toughest thing about him is his competitive fight. When Tabitha tempts him to help her take a secret walk on the wild side, he gives her a taste of the freedom she craves, never expecting that one unforgettable night could turn into something more.

Two Hearts on Thin Ice…

Chicago, Vancouver, Paris… the international figure skating season unfolds. Tabitha and Daniil compete and fall in love, but as the pressure mounts in a make-or-break season, can they set aside their painful pasts and spiral into a shining future together… or will their dreams shatter like thin ice?

At the Winter Games, the torch isn’t the only thing burning…

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Contemporary romance author Elizabeth Harmon loves to read and write romances with a dash of different. She is the author of the Red Hot Russians sports romance series. Her debut novel Pairing Off is a 2016 RITA® Award Finalist.

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