Figure skating is one of the most popular spectator sports in the USA, yet it eludes definitive categorization. In this work, Ellyn Kastnbaum examines figure skating from multiple perspectives: as sport, as performance, and even as spectacle, guiding the reader through both the technical aspects of skating and the sometimes convoluted roles of figure skating competition. Using readings of skating events at the 1994 and 1998 Olympic Games, she argues that figure skating is a language, one whose meaning is inflected by the culture at large. In particular, she looks at the ways in which race, social class and gender all disrupt, subvert or reinforce the practices of figure skating, and examines the influence of the media in shaping perceptions of the sport. As a skater, skating fan and scholar, Kestnbaum seeks to provide t only a history of the skating world but also a feeling for what it is like to be on the ice.
Ellyn Kestnbaum has published articles in Theatre Topics and is a contributor to Women On Ice: Feminist Responses to the Tonya Harding/Nancy Kerrigan Spectacle, edited by Cynthia Baughman (1995).