Friday, February 17, 2006

why it's worth staying up for the men's skating finals

when i was a little girl, i think around six or so, dorothy hamill won the gold and i got my heart broken for the first time - really, massively ruptured. i spent what felt like weeks worshipping at the altar of women's figure skating, obsessed with the elegance and beauty of the sport. i twirled around for days and wanted more than anything to be an olympic skater. then i started paying attention and heard that olympic skaters started way young - sometimes as early as three and four. at six, i was too old to start.

i remember crying for what felt like forever. at that point i think i knew how to skate already, but it was too late for me (and let's face it, i can't imagine me ever really managing a double toe loop, let alone some of those insane spins.) oh, the heartbreak of a lost dream.


my husband is on the other end of the spectrum from my own olympic tastes, which makes for interesting TV commentary. (except during the summer olympics when he spends most of him time trolling the tube for reruns of misty may beach volleyball matches. then he's kinda boring, unless you park the TV on the weather channel and hide the remote. not that i would know. just guessing.)

at one point i noticed that there seemed to be a shared evolutionary adaptation among male figure skaters at the highest levels - the schnozz. plushenko's got the gold on sheer size and protrusion, but the tendency towards beak-like nose formations seemed almost unnerving. i told brian i thought it was a genetic marker of some kind, or perhaps a 'survival of the fittest kind of thing.'

'yeah,' he says. 'it improves their-'

'aerodynamics!' we said together. then giggled as plushenko himself took the ice (leading, of course, with his nose).

yevgeny plushenko is just hot. it's not because of the way he skates - it's the way he doesn't skate - there's no emotion, no weepy quality to the choreography. He's not an artist, he's an athlete. he moved 1000 miles away from his parents at age 11 to train with a figure skating coach, so yeah he's gonna have some issues with being all open and stuff. and i like that. it's hot in a very remote, self-destructive kinda way.

his intense focus is sexy, too, especially at the start of his program. in yoga, bryan kest emphasizes a "left-finger focus" or "right-finger focus" - that is, letting the tip of your finger on an outstretched hand be your focal point to settle your mind and your body. i saw that in action last night. when he glided out there and circled almost lazily a few times, gathering his energy. he owned that ice. then he stopped slowly, raised his right hand, the camera panned in for a close-up, and there it was, the picture in the dictionary right next to "my-god-that's-hot."

my favorite moment last night was the amazing comeback of evan lysacek. poor kid had completely blown his short program, then went back to his room puking from stomach flu.

i saw one shot of him with his parents in the stands, his mom's arms around him, his head on her shoulder. part of me wanted to say, 'grow up!' a more compassionate part was really touched that he was so close to his family and so open about his attachment to them, and the strength they lend him when he's down.

wednesday, he said, he was in a doctor's office hooked up to IVs from dehydration. he was thinking, 'there's just no way i can do this tomorrow.' he said that his vision of the olympics changed at that moment - it was no longer about achievement and excellence, it was about courage.

let me tell you, this kid's got oodles of it. i kept waiting for a fall or a dropped jump, a brief bubble during the freestyle, and it never happened. not only was it technically fantastic, it had a grand exuberance to it - like, holy shit, i can't believe i'm doing this!

i just love the comeback kids.

but these guys need to consult me before they choose their costumes. every time a skater comes out onto the ice wearing one of those oh-no-he's-not-wearing-that atrocities, he always blows it. in stephane lambiel's case, he didn't blow it badly enough. with zebra stripes on the front, tiger stripes on the back, lambiel was a black-white-orange-blue (yes, blue) disaster. but he still ended up taking the silver. i mean, he is the world champion after all, so i s'pose it makes sense, but... it would have been great to see lysacek on the podium (he came in fourth overall.)

not that i saw the medalling. after plushenko's technical perfection and about two minutes of johnny weir's struggle to live up to all the hype, i turned off the tv and went to bed, to dream about ice and snow and gorgeous snowboarders and -

*cough* well, anyway. i might have to start paying attention to men's skating. (i say that about every four years.)

looking forward to the women's skate next week, and totally pissed that i missed the pairs. am hoping to find some reruns.

y'all have a great weekend. may the power company be with you.


oldwhitelady said...

They make it look easy, but we know it's terribly difficult. What beautiful motion. I haven't gotten to watch much, just bits and pieces.

The Fat Lady Sings said...

Oh yes! I couldn’t agree more! And my hubby and I had also commented on the contagious noses – though I think it’s generational. The Brian Boitano/Elvis Stoiko crowd all had that massive thigh thing going – and Phillipe Candeloro’s bunch were all cheeky, bad boy sexy, lets drip testosterone all over the ice kind of guys. Personally – I wish Plushenko had added a little more artistry to his work. I agree with Dick Button – he has ‘em all conditioned to expect the best – so that’s what they see. I wouldn’t kick him out of bed, though (am I too old to say that? Naw!!!). Boyfriend there’s got that simmering fires underneath look going for him. He’s married (as are we all) but sure fun to look at! (As are those snowboarders – I agree!).

SB Gypsy said...

I love love love the snowboarders! Somehow they have not yet been turned into robots of perfection - they still have that incredible enthusiasm that comes with the love and development of a sport, and is lost as soon as they start training them from birth to be olympi-bots.

I found I lost all interest in figure skating when the knee got smashed, and the judges were proven to be plotting behind the scenes.

Kiki said...

y'all can have the skaters and the snowboarders; i want me some bode miller! HOT.

james said...

I am a big fan of plushenko as well and because he is such a great athlete. Not to mention he deserves it given his training.