Monday, March 1, 2010

The Olympics Have Left

Tugba Karademir skated again tonight.  Scott Hamilton, special as always, had to tease her with : "Usually you say she's the national champion of... but Turkey has no no national  championship - she's it."    I will not miss him when this Olympics ends.
If you listen instead of gasp when the ski jumpers strut their stuff,  you can hear the whine of their skis as the jump levels out before the edge.
They fly 125 meters before they hit the ground and they peel out as they take off.  They're not big men, for the most part, but still, my knees ache just thinking about the landings.
Mary Carillo was a logger for a day, dressed in plaid flannel and big boots as she wandered around Quadra Island.  She was just hanging with the guys, watching as one popped a wheelie in a huge log loader and as another dumped the logs into the water for their trip downstream to a furniture factory near you.  Lest you think that all this destruction is depleting the Canadian forests, she introduced us to the re-forester for the logging company, who figures he's planted about 2.5 million trees over the course of his career.  And he looks to be only about 35.  There are a lot more trees to be grown, I think.
Women's Figure Skating was back again.  Miki Ando was wearing an Egyptian outfit and even though the judges scored her into first place, to me she looked stilted.

Kim YuNa  or YuNa Kim, depending on who's talking or writing the titles scored 150 - three times what Tugba Karademir was awarded.  She and her coach knew it would be good, but their faces were studies in surprise when they saw the number.  Not that anyone seems to understand the scoring, but this was the highest score anyone had ever seen
Joannie Rochette slapped palms and smiled and went out and said a beautiful goodbye to her mother.  Her short program, just two scant days after her mother's surprise death on Sunday, was about sorrow.  This long program was love. pure, simple and unadulterated.  She and her mom shared the dream and even her stumble and skipped jump were okay.  Half way through she seemed to forget where she was and go inside herself.  But then she came back to us, and smiled and began to glide and twirl and she looked like a ballerina  and the crowd cheered.   Through their tears.  At least I think they were crying.  I was bawling too hard to really see.
We're waiting for Mirai Nagasu to skate for America and I am reminded of why I love the games... one world.  Maybe they don't need to teach the melting pot in elementary school anymore because everyone is melted already.  

Mirai gave a scary smile to her coach and then she was skating to Carmen, a piece of music that seems too big for her.  It's iconic for skaters, though.  Suddenly I'm a kid and in the living room watching the black and white Motorola console tv and listening to Carmen then too.  

Her landings were so soft, you could feel the ice give way beneath her skates.  Of course, she's one of those people who can bend and touch their heads and feet behind their back - reverse warrior one legged - on ice, going fast, backwards.  At 16 she had amazing energy and it looked like she could go on forever....   she wasn't even breathing hard at the end. There was no pause to catch her breath, she just walked right up those steps to the waiting area.  16 and she's the 4th best in the world.  She deserves to smile.
Gone are the days when the announcers thought it was their duty to educate the listener. Hence my understanding of the infield fly rule, courtesy of Ken Coleman  and the Cleveland Indians to TBG in the 1950's. Watching curling ( our Olympic guilty pleasure shared with many of our friends, it seems) we find ourselves understanding the gist but not the specifics of the sportscasters. 

It doesn't really matter because Canadian Women's Curlers RULE!   They took silver, losing to Sweden in the 11th end (there are usually 10 ends .. and that's the sum total of my understanding of the rules of curling).  Why do they RULE, then, you might ask?  Well, grasshopper, listen to my favorite quote of the Olympics thus far, from the mouth of one of those Canadian Curlers: "Tomorrow I go back to being a Mom. This is fun."   

What a novel concept.  Playing a sport for fun.  So, Canadian Women's Curlers RULE.
Did you know that the concept of "sports" was unknown in early territorial America?  I discovered this tidbit of information on a girls+kids trip to Indianapolis when the Cuters were 5 and 7 years old.  We visited Conner Prairie, all 12 of us, and Tree asked the dressed in costume and living the life of a pioneer doctor docent what sports the kids played.  Professing confusion as to the nature of the question, the doctor probed and prodded and pushed the smart-but-annoyed 7 year old to establish a definition of sports.

And then, wielding a LARGE bellows, he sweetly inquired whether Tree experienced regular bowel movements or did her require the assistance of.... well, we never heard what was on offer because Tree made a bee line for the great out doors right about then.

But we all remember that there were no sports in territorial America, back in the day.

Sometimes the announcers are just good.  Listen to this description of this slalom racer skiing through gates and fog and rain and big fat snowflakes: "Her legs are at a rock concert, but her upper body is at the opera."  Quick legs, stable torso - but I like her word picture better.
Saturday and Sunday
Watched the hockey and the curling and the 4 man bobsleigh and the ice skaters performances on and off over the weekend.  By now, almost everyone has gone home, and even the broadcasters look bored.  The prime-time shows are recaps of  great moments of 2010, and even grieving Canadian figure skaters can't rev up my emotional energy pack for long.  I'm done.  Finished.  Caput.  We're taping the USA/Canada hockey game for later viewing, but we've got some old movies recorded and the rain is falling and the fireplace is lit and we're going to leave British Columbia to the closing ceremonies.

No, I am not going to watch them.  (Why are they plural, do you suppose?)  It's like being the non-attending spouse at a reunion.   You can appreciate the sentiment, but you'd really rather hear about it than be there.

Last Thoughts 
I feel bad for NBC.  They are taking a lot of heat for their coverage of these Olympics.  Tape delayed on the West Coast when the events are happening live right there in the same time zone, bizarre announcing, selective footage of pre-selected stars, USA-centric coverage and on and on and on. 

That is all true, but I still have some sympathy for them.  The rules of the game (the media distribution of live events game, that is) changed between the time they bid for the Games and the last two weeks.  Seriously, did you even think about sending an email from your cell phone on June 8, 2003?  That's the day that NBC bid $2 billion for the broadcast rights to these Games.  Today, you can watch tv in your palm..... Dick Tracy would be proud.
Evgeni Plushenko and Jonny Moseley came down on the same side of the size vs style controversy.  Plushenko felt that he deserved the gold because he was the only skater to attempt, let alone complete, a quad (it's a spinning thing that no one else has ever done before in Olympic competition) even though Evan Lysacek out-skated him in every other regard.  Jonny was critical of the high scores given to the technically proficient but less than adventurous free-style skiers, scoffing that the entire sport was founded on the principal of stretching the envelope, of trying something bigger and scarier and collecting kudos for the attempt rather than demerits for persnickety details.

It was an interesting peek into the psyche of the athlete as competitor.  I'm not sure with whom I agree, but I'm having a good time thinking about it.
My favorite part of Kim YuNa's story is her relationship with her coach, Brian Orser.  They seem to genuinely enjoy each other's company.  My favorite part of Joannie Rochette's story is that her mother taught her fluent English by having her watch Scooby-Doo cartoons. 
I'm going to miss them.  I like knowing that they'll be back in 4 years.  Maybe, by then, I'll have figured out curling's terminology.


  1. Farewell, Olympics! I've enjoyed you this year in a fashion I never would have imagined, thanks to my blogcaster, Ashleigh.

  2. Ooooooo! I love new titles, Nance. Blogcaster..... sweet.


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