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.
Oksana lives near my city, apparently.
I wanted to make fun of the commentary last night, but even that seemed like making fun of the kid who can’t help how his momma dresses him.
Oh, I know. The costumes – especially on the men, many of whom are actually straight. Dang.
Poor Oksana grew 5 inches in a year and lost her center of gravity so couldn’t land her jumps as well, but I didn’t care. And she got into drinking and other messes but when you’re 16 and a millionaire with no real parents, what do you expect? She is still the most amazing, Inspiring, and graceful skater that’s ever been, in my opinion. Which is right, of course. 😀
Skeleton is like luge. Only it is face first. The anti figure skating. BTW… That kerrigan cf happened at Cobo, in Detroit. Big news…20 years ago.
This is the best blog post I have all morning – by a tenth of a point. 🙂
Woooot! I still won! Suck it, other blogs!
You’re hilarious! I actually have a love/hate relationship with the Olympics, and figure skating specifically, for the exact same reason. Regardless of the annoying commentators, you have inspired me to get out of bed and run on the treadmill while I watch some really week trained athletes try not to screw up!
I’m an inspiration without skates! I used to actually be able to rollerskate – when I was nine. Now there’s no freaking way. I have no idea how they would do that stuff normally, but on ice? WTF. How do you even practice that stuff?
You should do Jeremy’s interviews, that would make ice skating popular for all immediately :o) Great post!
Thanks. I swear, I don’t know what those people expect them to say. I would love it if one of them just let loose on one finally.
How did it feeeel when you smacked into the wall? BAD.
I think all sports in tv would be more popular without some comments and with better interviews :o)
Reporter: What do you think went wrong during your program?
Jeremy: I fall down go boom.
haha, yes. Poor guy. His face was like – really – you’re asking me this? lol.
Reporters are frickin’ retarded. Well, sports reporters are at any rate. They always ask the dumbest questions.
As if most people in sports are going to be that articulate anyway. I mean, they’re good at a sport, that doesn’t mean they’re good at say, English.
I’M THE GREATEST EVER!!
To be fair, though — is there an intelligent question you can ask in that situation? The only one I can think of is “So, wanna go grab a beer?”
That would lead to a more entertaining response, I bet.
Now that would be an okay question. And I’m sure he needed one or twelve at that point.
I love the after story on Tonya – that she was arguing with her husband or boyfriend or some guy from the liquor store she picked up … and went into her yard, got a hubcap and wacked him in the head with it… I like to envision her ripping said hubcap off an actual car, but given where she was living, I’m sure it was just lying around the front yard (although we have a hubcap in our backyard b/c my son likes to collects them when we walk). Oh Tonya – the trashy side of you is so interesting…
She’s actually a commentator on this show on truTV now where they make fun of idiots – like world’s dumbest crooks, world’s dumbest performers, etc. And she’s actually really funny. And she’s on there with Willis from Diff’rent Strokes and Danny Bonaduce, both of whom were also, er, infamous – but also funny as heck.
Ah Danny Bondouche – hee hee — well, I can see I’m missing tons by not having cable TV 🙂
I hate to admit it, but I love that show. Sooo many stupid people. And they make fun of each other. Like there was this stupid contest with two trailers smashing into each other and one said, “Tonya’s sad cause her house got ruined.” And she makes this face. hahaha.
Gotta laugh at yourself if you’ve got a history of administering brain damage via a stray hubcap.
True. haha. At least Tonya made ice skating interesting!
And I agree – Nancy was a whinny person (even though I am not condoning a knee smashing… 🙂 ) – most figure skaters are kind of annoying – the whole culture is very self centered and not a lot of support for other skaters. I love watching skiers – they tend to support their teammates and other skiers from different countries…
I feel the same about gymnastics as I do figure skaters – a culture of back stabbing and fake sympathy/empathy to hide the apathy.
But what they do is incredible and difficult – it’s the attitudes that suck.
Yes. There’s a book about gymnasts called Little girls in tiny boxes or something like that. Sad. But I’ve been reading about other olympic sports and holy heck I’ve got another post here. This stuff makes figure skating look normal.
REALLY? Is it the secret devious life of Curling??
Yes, that was a new one for me, but there’s also one where you shoot a rifle and ski, and one where you slide down head first – even crazier than luge. There’s so many ways to accidentally die – why tempt fate?
goinnnnnn dowwwwwwwwn in a blaze of glorrry!
with a neckbrace……………
Given all the bullshit going on with the Russian government I have zero intention of watching any of the Olympics. In my not so humble opinion I think the US should have boycotted the damn thing.
Okay, I feel bad – which bullshit in the Russian gov’t? I’ve been too busy watching people crush watermelons with their heads. Epic Alice Fail.
It’s illegal to be homosexual there – there’s video of gay men being beaten in the streets. They’ve been rounding up all the stray dogs in Olympic Village and shooting them. (until a philanthropist stepped in and started rescuing them) The facilities for the athletes are abhorrent. I just honestly don’t get how Sochi ever won the bid to be the host city.
Wow. When they make the US govt look good, that’s really, really bad. Sheesh.
And this is going to sound terrible, but with everything else going on in the world right now, is it really necessary to have people who spend their entire lives devoted to a sport? Wouldn’t it maybe be better if they put some energy into being truly productive members of society?
But this is coming from the clumsy kid who wasn’t ever good at sports and always preferred books.
Yeah I was that kid too. The sad thing is that these people are generally ready for retirement by the time they’re 40 at the latest . . . ice skaters and gymnasts have to stay little girls to complete those jumps – it’s freaky really.
Russia even makes Texas look good. 🙂
This post mirrors my experiences. I used to love watching figure skating, and Oksana Baiul was incredible. There seemed to be so many ice-skating stars back then. Remember that gorgeous couple who skated together–a husband and wife and he died at a young age? Can’t remember their names; I believe they were Russian. I loved watching them, not to mention the North American bigwigs like Brian Boitano, Scott Hamilton, and some Canadian guy who was really good (but can’t remember his name either).
Just this morning I was reading an article about the Olympics and thought I might try to get back into the figure skating. I no longer know who any of them are though, so I’ve got some catching up to do.
Ekaterina (Katya) Gordeeva and Sergei Grinkov – they were such a beautiful couple, and when he died so young of a heart condition, it was really tragic. I mean, crap, who could have been in better shape than someone like that?
And yes, Scott Hamilton who went through Cancer but could still do freaking backflips on the ice, and Brian was great, but there was this other guy. He was so cute and even performed in a T-shirt and actual jeans instead of tights. What was his name?
Anyway, there was certainly a soap opera on ice back then. Not sure if it’s really the same. The technical part gets more and more difficult and the artistry seems to go out the window. Nancy could not figure how that Oksana won based off of that – that it didn’t matter if she made a couple more mistakes than she did. Her artistry won out. Just like a writer can make no grammatical errors but still suck because they have no content.
Was it Kurt Browning who wore the jeans? Elvis Stojko was the one I was thinking of. He was muscular and not the usual body type for figure skating, but he was so athletic. And yes, thank you for the names of that gorgeous couple. His death was so sad. I remember being mesmerized by their performances.
Kurt! Yes, thank you. I could not figure out how to find him. And Elvis, yes, Elvis was nice.
Katya wrote a book about him “My Sergei”. Yeah, I couldn’t bear to read it. They’d been together so long she couldn’t really remember life without him.
I’m usually all about the Olympics, because sport. But, last night, the announcers/reporters really bothered me. I couldn’t believe the questions they asked Jeremy. I couldn’t believe some of the comments they were making. It was no longer about how amazing it was for them to be there in the first place, and how they gave it their all but didn’t perform as well as they might have on another day. It has become “disaster” this and “debacle” that. I was so annoyed by the commenting that I turned it off.
Oh, I know! If you listen to commenter on the Oksana clip, you’ll see he’s much more forgiving. That’s because he’s Scott Hamilton, who WAS a figure skater. I’d like to see some of those announcers try to do that crap. And yeah, after a while we just hit mute and watched the skaters.
I love figure skating. Um, watching it. Not doing it. As if. Mer fall down go boom.
So would Alice. Ka-boom. Before I even started.
Now I really want to take you ice skating.
Pfft, like you can ice skate either.
If I had a rubber suit fetish, I would have dedicated my life to Olympic luge.
The one man though. the two man is a little weird.
Yeah that’d be a little close for comfort. Then again, I guess it helps if you get to share your brain injury with a pal.
And you have that naked bar slide experience. It’s kind of like luge, but with less ice and more blood.
I always suspected I’d make a good speedskater. There’s no real world basis for the suspicion, but just a feeling I’ve had. Too bad I didn’t grow up anyplace especially cold.
Hey, there were those guys from Jamaica who were bobsledders. No excuses. 😀
There are ALWAYS excuses
I live in the desert and have like five ice rinks within a 30 min. drive. I tried to get my daughter hooked on ice hockey. She didn’t go for it. But I let her try gymnastics, and now she wants to be a competitive gymnast. Gods help me.
Yeah, gymnastics is tough. Just hope she becomes tall and grows out of it.
Well, I wanted to be a ballerina at that age, so eh . . .
A fun fact: Oksana Baiul once judged one of my comedy routines a few years ago. I think she may have been just a little bit drunk, and since I haven’t actually seen her Olympic performance until now, I’m very impressed with her as a skater now.
Wow! That’s amazing. I know she got into some trouble with drinking for a while, but from what I’ve read she seems to be doing a lot better now. When you’re sixteen with no parents and given a million dollars – well, judgement tends to not be your strong suit. 😀
I didn’t even know she was an orphan. But I think becoming rich very quickly can just as quickly mess up anyone, as so many celebrities and lottery winners can attest.
As usual you crack me up! Best Sunday morning start! Well at least this week. The vid made me cry, she was such a brave little creature. My fav bit of your post was your answer to the stupid reporter’s question. LOL
Thank you. Wasn’t she amazing? And yeah, I just do not get those questions. I’d love it if an athlete would answer like that, or maybe even just flick the reporter in the forehead.
yet another gufaw
I can stay upright and manage to go around an ice rink without holding onto the sides, and can even skate while leaning over to one side, but figure skating is completely beyond me. Which is probably why my skates are hockey skates not figure skates!
Hockey? Ha! I love all your awesome angles. No one can put you in a box!
Not until I’m dead, any way!! BTW I did a post about the situation in Russia a little while back. Given how little I’ve posted recently you should be able to find it quite easily.
Oh man, I am right there with you. I can’t handle when any of them fall or mess up. I feel devastated on their behalf.. I want them all to win, I’m such a putz. GOLD MEDALS FOR EVERYONE!