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February 07, 2014 10:00 AM

Dick Button is a two-time Olympic figure skating champion, a five-time world champion, and the only non-European man to become the European champion. So getting tips from him on what to watch for at the figure skating events may help give you an edge in your Olympics office pool.

1. What to Look for During the Skater’s Entrance

“Watch for their attitude … What do they look like? What is their face telling you? Are they frightened and looking around at each other? Look to see if their shoulders are tense.”

2. During the Warm-Up

“You have to remember what the order of skating is. The skater who’s up first will do less of a warm-up, less exhausting movements. The skater who’s skating last, maybe sixth down the line, that’s exhausting. Because you’re not on the ice, you’re not continuing to warm up, you’re hearing the routines of the others.”

“Look at their faces. See what their reaction is to the end of the previous skater’s routine – they’ll be reacting to the sound of the crowd as much as anticipating their own moment.”

“Check their laces to see if they’re tucked in. When someone leaves their laces hanging out it’s sloppy, thoughtless. It’s like you bought an expensive dress and left the label hanging out when you put it on.”

3. During the Performance

“A skater’s body language will reveal the most during their triple jump. Watch the barrier behind a skater while they’re performing a spin. The barrier’s obviously not going to move, so if you see it start to move, that means the skater is traveling in the spin. They didn’t center it. Triple jumps or major jumps get an extra credit if they occur in the second half of the program.”

4. After a Routine

“Look and see if a skater’s slowing down by the end the routine – if they’re exhausted by the end of the routine, they may not finish as strongly. This is a sea-level rink, so the skaters should be in very good shape and you shouldn’t see that. If you do, then the skater’s probably in trouble.”

5. Who Button Is Looking out for

Jason Brown
Jacquis Demathon/AFP/Getty

“I never have favorites. Every individual has something interesting. Yuna Kim (South Korea) is a wonderful jumper, and she doesn’t wilt. However, she also has rounded shoulders and a very pained look on her face most of the time. And she carries her free leg like a wooden mallet – she doesn’t point her feet.”

“In men’s skating, Jeremy Abbot and Jason Brown are both very exciting skaters and very good. In the ladies’ event, there’s a mess of women all over the world who are very good. There’s Mao Asada from Japan, Yuna Kim from South Korea, Carolina Kostner from Italy. From the U.S., there’s Ashley Wagner and Gracie Gold.”

Dick’s book, Push Dick’s Button, a “conversation on skating from a good part of the last century,” is available now. He will be live-Tweeting during the men’s short program (Feb. 13), the men’s free program (Feb. 14), the ladies’ short program (Feb. 19), and the ladies’ long program (Feb. 20).

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