German Figure Skater Draws Fire After Performing to ‘Schindler’s List’ at Olympics

Nicole Schott, 21, becomes one of most tweeted subjects of the Games after using John Williams’ score to the Holocaust drama

Nicole Schott performing her "Schindler's List" routine at the Winter Olympics, February 22. 2018.
Nicole Schott performing her "Schindler's List" routine at the Winter Olympics, February 22. 2018.Credit: Twitter

It sounds like the plotline to an episode of Larry David’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm”: A German figure skater performed to the music from “Schindler’s List” at the Winter Olympics on Thursday – but Twitter did not think it was pretty, pretty good.

Most viewers were struck by two things: First, whoever thought “’Schindler’s List’ on Ice” was a good idea? And second, maybe a non-Jewish German performer might have foreseen her choice raising virtual eyebrows worldwide (well, maybe except in Poland).

Nicole Schott, 21, was actually born after Steven Spielberg’s Holocaust drama was released in 1993, but few online were willing to excuse her insensitivity on the callowness of youth. As she competed in South Korea, her performance soon become one of the most talked-about moments of the entire Games.

The Essen-born German – who serves in the German Army according to the official Winter Olympics website – was competing in the ladies single skating free skating competition.

She eventually placed 18th out of 24 performers. But what’s perhaps most interesting is that she received her highest individual mark for “Interpretation of the Music,” which suggests the nine judges didn’t have a problem with her use of John Williams’ musical score.

Unlike Twitter. Some of the kinder comments ranged from “German figure skater performing to music from ‘Schindler’s List.’ That’s not the choice I’d go with” and “Call me crazy but that doesn’t seem right,” to “The German figure skater is skating to music from ‘Schindler’s List’ ABORT ABORT ABORT!” and the even blunter “NO ONE SHOULD BE SKATING TO ‘SCHINDLER’S LIST’!!!!!!”

Yet this is not the first time a figure skater has chosen to interpret the music from Spielberg’s Holocaust drama.

Russian figure skater Yulia Lipnitskaya actually won the gold medal in Sochi in 2014 for her performance. While her choice of music drew criticism – especially when accompanied by her wearing a red costume, making an obvious comparison with Spielberg’s symbolic use of an anonymous young girl wearing a red coat in the otherwise black-and-white film – some gave Lipnitskaya a pass since her routine had been choreographed by a Russian Jew, Ilia Averbukh.

Another Russian figure skater, Irina Slutskaya, escaped some flak since she could at least claim some Jewish lineage through her Russian-Israeli grandmother. Israeli siblings Roman and Alexandra Zaretsky used it during a 2010 routine, but German skater Katarina Witt should probably be grateful she performed in the days before Twitter.

Seeing Schott’s performance, one Twitter user was reminded of maybe the most egregious use yet of “Schindler’s List” on ice: Tatiana Navka, the wife of Putin press secretary Dmitry Peskov, doing a Holocaust-themed skating performance during a Russian TV show in November 2016. Navka again, indeed.

Below are some of the Twitter responses to Schott's performance.

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