Tuesday, February 14, 2006

More Olympics fun

Last night TBO and I watched the pairs skating. I've always watched it, even though if pressed I would probably say I don't really like it. But, it's the Olympics and it's what's they're showing. Now, being an avid sports spectator, I watch these things intently--even if it's something like this I'm not usually all that fond of. I learn the lingo, I can intelligently talk about axels (the skater jumps into it when facing forward and ends it going backwards), salchows (skater begins and ends going backwards), and lutzes (skater uses non-gliding foot to initiate the jump, and apart from using a different side of the skate blade is the same as a salchow), and can tell when someone screws up even if they don't fall. But skating is one of those sports that is so demanding that even the very best in the world can't be perfect all the time. Falls are pretty common, even in the Olympics.
Last night two pairs showed why Michelle Kwan is a loser. The eventual winners skated second to last, and before they skated, NBC showed us their story. Some while back, they were doing something not usually considered all that dangerous in competition: the guy skater (Maxim Marinan) was holding the girl (Tatiana Totmianina) over his head and doing a few spins down the ice. Unfortunately, Maxim began to lose his footing and dropped Tatiana. Hard. Sickeningly hard. Pretty much on her head, causing a "severe" concussion which knocked her out for a long while. It was pretty awful. She ended up ok, of course (otherwise there's no story, right?), after a short stint in the hospital. Maxim, on the other hand, was a mess. Tatiana, after all, couldn't remember a thing about it, but he had to relive that moment repeatedly in his head. Ick.
Maxim and Tatiana skated last night with that terrible memory hanging over them, and they finished without incident, understandably hesitant, but earning a standing ovation nonetheless for overcoming their fears. The other standing "o" came for the very next pair. Zhang Dan and Zhang Hao (who incidentally skated to a version of the Led Zeppelin song "Kashmir" for their short program!), were the final pair to skate and were in line to win the gold, but on their first throw Zhang Dan couldn't stick the landing and fell hard on her knees splaying out her legs severely. For a few minutes Dan was unable to skate/walk at all, as the doctor checked her out to see if any permanent damage was done. Apparently she was ok, although it was also apparent that she was indeed hurt, and they finished their program, throws, jumps, and all. The audience roared their appreciation for this display of guts and determination, and Dan and Hao, despite the fall, took silver.
This is why I watch sports. This is why figure skating is ok by me. (I hope Michelle Kwan was watching, and I hope that she's ashamed.) If these two pairs could skate--better than any others in the world last night--the one in obvious psychological torment and the other in obvious physical pain, then what other heights can we achieve?

4 Comments:

Blogger sporksforall said...

Very cool entry bryduck. A very passioned bit about why sports are cool and worth watching. I made Scout watch the pairs on Tivo x4 and we went to bed before the end. Sorry I missed both skates, especially after reading your take.

11:30 AM  
Blogger bryduck said...

D'oh!
Thanks for the big ups, Sporks!

12:45 PM  
Blogger scout said...

I know I've given over to the short-attention-span-theater generation when I'm finding a four-minute program tedious, but the 4X-speed really did condense those elements nicely! We did watch a number of sickening luge crashes in real-time. Gah!

1:47 PM  
Blogger bryduck said...

The skating is tedious because all the skaters are forced to do the same freaking routine, for the most part. The bizarre thing is that almost none of them can complete it without falling--what's up with that? I can't remember other competitions that had this many falls or screw ups.

8:22 AM  

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