In case you missed it, the Olympics started yesterday. The girls let me know it was on, interrupting the fascinating program I was watching, Guinness World Records Unleashed. A man was trying to beat the record for most watermelons smashed by his own cranium. He didn’t beat the record, which means all that training and damage to the spinal cord down the drain!
So I switched to the Olympics, a slightly more respectable program of people trying to accomplish impossible feats at the expense of various needed bones and organs. I tuned in just in time to see part of the mens’ figure skating. I am fascinated with figure skaters and the way they seem to defy gravity, physics, and sanity. They not only skate, they skate backwards, and leap and twirl in the air, and do fancy dance moves, and wear sequined spandex tights without getting wedgies. These guys are amazing.
I first got interested in figure skating during the infamous 1994 Olympic Winter Games. During this Olympic season, a lot of people accomplished astounding feats of greatness in their chosen sport, but most importantly, a United States figure skater whacked another United States figure skater in the knee.
Nancy Kerrigan was the U.S. Figure skating star. She had talent and really big teeth. Tonya was also a talented figure skater, although she was not quite so graceful. Female wrestler on ice would probably be a better description, but considering the way the required jumps get more and more impossible, you kind of need a really strong chick out there. But alas, Tonya was not quite as talented, so she figured, why not have her ex-husband / bodyguard (interesting combination) take out the competition?
Once you get to know Nancy, you start understanding Tonya a lot more. Nancy was a twit. Her whine heard round the world, “Why meeeee?” got the nation’s attention. Nothing like a possible cat fight on ice to make us finally bother to tune in. So I did, but I soon found myself routing not for the U.S., but for the Ukraine and their tiny orphaned 16-year-old skater who overcame an incredibly awful start in life to make it to the Olympics. An actual real life fairy tale. People covering the Olympics are terrible about this. They tell you a person’s background, and then you are watching and praying they don’t fall or die or something. It’s seriously annoying.
But still, you couldn’t help but be enraptured by Oksana Baiul, who skated in seemingly out of nowhere to steal the gold medal from Nancy by a tenth of a point. Nancy was a good sport about it, though. Haha, just kidding, no she wasn’t. She acted like a total jerk, complaining about how the medal ceremony was delayed because that stupid little orphan was putting on her makeup. In reality, they were trying to find the Ukraine’s national anthem. They’d pretty much never won anything before, so it took a while.
You simply have to see Oksana’s program from 1994 – she didn’t just have grace – she WAS grace. On ice.
So for better or for worse, that Olympic games sealed it for me. The whole country was figure skating crazy for a while. They had other competitions between the U.S. and the rest of the world. In one of them, Oksana beat Nancy again . . . by the same tenth of a point. I laughed hysterically. I’m betting Nancy was thinking about borrowing Tonya’s bat at that point.
But it’s been several Olympic games since then, and my interest has waned. It’s just way too emotional to watch these people. Bad enough that they could seriously injure themselves, but you’ve also got the announcers commenting on every tiny move and how this will or won’t help them and I just want them to SHUT UP already. And then when the skater invariably does succumb to gravity and fall, they are all up in that like a pack of vultures.
So I got there just in time to see poor Jeremy Abbott, American figure skating star, smash into the wall. Ouch. Not only did the poor guy have to fall and completely ruin his program, a program he no doubt practiced for billions of hours and performed perfectly many times, he had to deal with the reporters. I just love their questions. An example.
Reporter: Jeremy, we couldn’t help but notice how you fell on your butt in front of literally the entire world. We know you’ve been training for your entire life for this one moment, and now you’ve made one tiny mistake that is going to cost you, and let’s not forget the entire country that is counting on you, a medal. In case you’ve forgotten in the five minutes since you fell, then got up again and carried through the rest of the program knowing you’d messed up, we are going to helpfully show you the instant replay of your fall several more times. Did you get that, Jeremy? Are you feeling a proper amount of shame yet? Okay, no rushing off to soak your head in battery acid yet, Jeremy. Now we are going to ask you completely idiotic questions. For instance, (actual question). . .
Reporter: What do you think went wrong during your program?
Jeremy: I don’t know.
But I’m pretty sure I know what Jeremy wanted to say, or at least what I would say in this situation:. What went wrong in my program? I ran into the wall, you idiot. I was skating backwards, and I hit the wall, and I fell down. It hurt and now I feel really crappy, so if you don’t mind, could you not replay my embarrassment over again right away? Also, could you lace up a pair of skates and let us all take pot shots at you and critique your every move? No pressure.
So Jeremy did the walk of shame, and heard his score, and buried his head, but the show must go on and out went nineteen-year-old Japanese skater, Yuzuru Hanyu, who scored perfectly and hit every jump just right! I bet Jeremy was really happy for him. I sure would have been. I wouldn’t have been tempted to get that bat, not even for a second.
Yes I would. But that might be why I’m not quite Olympic material. That and a total lack of ice-skating talent, of course. I’d probably cut myself on the skate trying to put it on. So I’m not going to give these poor athletes any more heck than they’ve already gotten. I say if you made it all the way to the Olympics, you won, dude. So hold your head high and march out of there a champion.
Just remember to speak softly, and carry a big stick.