Figure Skating RPF

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RPF Fandom
Name(s): Figure Skating RPF
Scope/Focus: Olympic, international, and national level figure skating
Date(s): early 1990s to present, major growth in 2010
See also: Subpages for Figure Skating RPF:
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Contents

Figure Skating RPF is a small sports RPF fandom that has been around since at least the 1990s. Like the sport itself, its popularity is cyclical, with an influx of new fanfiction and activity coinciding with the Winter Olympics every four years.

Figure skating RPF tends to focus on famous, competitively successful skaters who have developed a large following and appear often in the media. RPF authors mine skaters' relationships for material, particularly their rivalries. Pairs and ice dance partners are also commonly shipped together.

1990s

The most popular skaters in 1990s figure skating fanfiction were 2002 Olympic champion Alexei Yagudin and his chief rivals Evgeni Plushenko and Timothy Goebel. The fandom was relatively small and initially lurked on the outskirts of Western media fandom:

"A private poster tells me that figure skating slash exists, and is circulated privately..."[1]
When the fandom was discussed, it was often in disparaging tones:
"I was relieved to hear the writers are keeping it amongst themselves, because the other night I had this dream... [that] I was at Zebracon in '95, and the hottest-selling item in the dealer's room was a zine called "Double Axle", bidding was fierce at the art auction over a depiction of a nude Brian Boitano, and the songvid contest was won by a deeply moving work called "Too Long A Skater"...

It's all right, I'm calming down now.

Your fandom's ok, my fandom's ok.....[but] What other mini-fandoms are lurking out there that no one's told me about yet? Baseball players? Professional bowlers? It's kind of frightening."[2]

In that way, figure skating RPF was viewed no differently from other forms of RPF. Nevertheless, it had cultivated a small presence in the Sports section of FanFiction.Net by the late 90s.

2000s

In 2001, FanFiction.Net banned RPF. Figure skating fanfiction survived on fan-run collections like Private Ice[3], personal sites, and forums. For example, The Michelle Kwan Forum was home to a busy fanfiction forum featuring stories about the skater, many of which are still archived.

As fandom began its migration to LiveJournal, figure skating RPF began to spring up on the service. Both English-language and Russian-language figure skating communities thrived on LiveJournal (which was particularly popular in Russia and eventually purchased by a Russian media company), but there was little overlap between them. Notable communities include ice_slash (English) and ice_fiction (Russian), which both focused on slash.

2006 Olympic Champion Evgeni Plushenko and Johnny Weir were the dominant skaters in this era of RPF. Plushenko was most often paired with his rival Alexei Yagudin, and Weir with fellow skater Stéphane Lambiel or his domestic rival Evan Lysacek. The Weir and Lysacek pairing was often referred to as Swangoose, a portmanteau based on an anecdote about nicknames they called each other.[4] Several RPF communities dedicated exclusively to Weir-centric fanfiction and pairings sprang up, such as weirsjohnny, russianzebra (Johnny Weir/Stéphane Lambiel), and swan_goose (Johnny Weir/Evan Lysacek).

2010 Vancouver Olympics

By the time the 2010 Winter Olympics torch was lit in Vancouver, fans had perfected the use of LiveJournal as a platform for fandom. Figure skating fandom had already gained a foothold on LJ, but it expanded extensively during the games and their aftermath. ontd_skating, a spinoff community of the popular Oh No They Didn't celebrity gossip community, was created in response to the overwhelming interest in figure skating in ONTD's Olympic watch posts. An active kink meme called wintergameskink was established for posting and requesting fanfiction about the athletes. Figure skating prompts were so popular that they were eventually moved to their own post to prevent them from drowning out the other Olympic sports.[5] Links to filled prompts were tagged and archived on delicious, creating a de facto archive.

Johnny Weir, who had become even more popular and famous thanks in part to his reality show Be Good Johnny Weir, remained at the forefront of figure skating RPF in English-language fandom. Following the Vancouver games, he was by far the most written-about athlete. Evgeni Plushenko was still a favorite, particularly in Russian-language fandom. The on-ice chemistry between Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, Vancouver's ice dancing champions, inspired an influx of het RPF. Some fans found their chemistry so convincing that they believed they were an off-ice couple as well, despite the fact that Moir was actually dating a Canadian pairs skater. These speculations and assertions grew in scope and included allegations that Virtue gave birth to their child during the 2010-11 season, most of which they sat out due to injury. The dubemoir blog, the source of the majority of these conspiracy theories, is pejoratively referred to as "the secret baby blog" by the rest of ice dance fandom.[6][7]

2014 Sochi Olympics

The Archive of Our Own (AO3) opened in late 2009, creating a centralized, multi-fandom fanfiction website that allowed users to share RPF. The migration of Western media fandom from LiveJournal to tumblr, a platform much less ideal for publishing fanfiction, made AO3 the place of choice for fans to post their Sochi-inspired RPF. (Although a significant amount of RPF is still posted to the relevant pairing tags on tumblr.) As of July 2015, there are nearly 800 fanfictions publicly archived in the Figure Skating RPF tag.[8] Over 15% are written in Chinese.[9]

Post-Sochi, figure skating RPF shifted to focus on different skaters and pairings. Fanfic about new Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu outpaced fanfic about Johnny Weir. Hanyu's friendship with his training partner Javier Fernandez is currently the most-written pairing in AO3's figure skating RPF section.[10] Fanfiction about new ice dance champs Meryl Davis and Charlie White was also very popular. After Sochi, Davis and White signed onto Season 18 of Dancing With the Stars. Meryl Davis went on to win the show with her partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy, and a fandom for their relationship sprang up on the outskirts of figure skating RPF fandom, with a substantial amount of overlap between skating and DWTS fans. Meryl/Maks (Maksyl) fanfiction slightly outpaces Meryl/Charlie fanfiction on AO3.[11][12] As with Virtue and Moir, Meryl and Maks' partnership has become the focal point of an aggressive real life shipping faction despite the fact that they are both dating other people.[13] In the Russian-language branch of fandom, Olympic pairs champions and real-life couple Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov were a favorite subject.

Present

The onslaught of post-Sochi and DWTS fanfiction has ended, but Yuzuru/Javier (Yuzuvier) fanfic continues to be popular, especially in light of Fernandez and Hanyu's gracious and friendly behavior despite the tight competition between them during the 2014-15 season.[14] A contentious partner swap in Russian ice dance has inspired shipping and fanfic about Elena Ilinykh and Ruslan Zhiganshin (Ruslena).[15][16]

Example Fanworks

Examples Wanted: Editors are encouraged to add more examples or a wider variety of examples.

References

  1. post by alexfandra to the Virgule-L mailing list in 1993, quoted with permission.
  2. post by alexfandra to the Virgule-L mailing list in 1993, quoted with permission.
  3. Fan Focus SkateWeb (Accessed 03 July 2015.)
  4. Johnny on Evan The Quotable Johnny Weir. (Accessed 03 July 2015.)
  5. wintergameskink. Alright folks, this is what's up. 2010 Olympic Winter Games Kink Meme. (Accessed 03 July 2015.)
  6. posts by Growsonwalls and Lilac2000 at PreviouslyTV's figure skating forum. (Accessed 03 July 2015.)
  7. post by canbelto at Figure Skating Universe. (Accessed 03 July 2015.)
  8. 782 works in the Figure Skating RPF tag. Archive of Our Own. (Accessed 03 July 2015.)
  9. 121 Chinese works in the Mandarin Chinese filter of the Figure Skating RPF tag. Archive of Our Own. (Accessed 03 July 2015.)
  10. 168 works in the Javier Fernandez/Yuzuru Hanyu relationship tag. Archive of Our Own. (Accessed 03 July 2015.)
  11. 135 works in the Maksim Chmerkovskiy/Meryl Davis relationship tag. Archive of Our Own. (Accessed 03 July 2015.)
  12. 130 works in the Meryl Davis/Charlie White relationship tag. Archive of Our Own. (Accessed 03 July 2015.)
  13. meryledavis. "It seems ridiculous to create drama and negativity online when none exists in real life." Instagram. June 2015. (Accessed 03 July 2015.)
  14. gifset by ohmyroyalty. "With Yuzu, we are everything." Tumblr. (Accessed 03 July 2015.)
  15. Elena Ilinykh/Ruslan Zhiganshin relationship tag. Archive of Our Own. (Accessed 03 July 2015.)
  16. Ruslena Search. Tumblr. (Accessed 03 July 2015.)
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