Figure Skating of Yesteryear

I’m a big fan of the Olympics, in particular Figure Skating, but I’ve got to admit that I’m having a hard time getting into it this year.  A lot of it has to do with NBC’s horrible coverage.  I swear to God, between the insufferable Bob Coshtash, Mary Carillo, and the truly awful Cris Collinsworth, I can barely watch. If I were a conspiracy theorist, I would be fully convinced NBC executives were going around giving cancer to, maiming and, in some cases, killing the family members and friends of athletes so that they are sure have something to talk about during their inconsistent and ridiculous hours of primetime coverage.  It’s so bad it almost makes me violent.

And so I think of happier times.

Back when skating was fun to watch, I happened to be living in Lyon, France the year the Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final was held there.  So naturally, I got tickets for the ladies’ competition!  I had several observations at the time: 1) Peggy Fleming seemed to be going through menopause.  She sat in the ABC booth constantly eating while being fanned with a piece of white paper by a woman sitting behind her, all while wearing a pair of gigantic gloves.  Every time I looked at her she appeared to be uncomfortable. 2) Terry Gannon looked plastic. 3) I wanted the ass of a Russian male figure skater.  To see one in person is to redefine the meaning of buns of steel. I really think a small automobile could have crashed into Anton Sikharulidze’s ass and been totaled without him ever knowing the difference.

The quality is not great, but here’s the Kiss and Cry from where I sat:

Michelle Kwan was the main reason I went; here she is warming up during her practice skate.

And one more.

It’s blurry, but here is Michelle in the Kiss and Cry following her performance.

And here she is accepting the silver medal.  She came in second to Russia’s Irina Slutskaya.

When it aired in the US I had a friend record it for me; I was hoping I would be on television.  I might have been, too, had these two French homos not stolen the limelight.  Right when Michelle finished skating I launched a stuffed bear out onto the ice and screamed wildly like I had seen people do on television so many times before.  Unfortunately, not only were these two guys sitting nearer the camera bank and in the front row, but they were also waving a French flag and holding posters filled with loving, wonderful messages for Michelle — which arguably made for better television than catapulting Mrs. Berenstein out onto the ice.

Anyway, flashing back to 2010, the ladies’ short program is now on tv except, doh, they’ve gone back to the nordic combined.

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6 Responses to Figure Skating of Yesteryear

  1. chris says:

    Once again, you’ve made me snort coffee out my nose.

    “…catapulting Mrs. Berenstein out onto the ice” is a truly wonderful turn of phrase. Thanks for blogging, Bill.

  2. randasfans says:

    Well you *know* it’s a mutual love fest!

  3. Brooke says:

    Did you know that I use to be a figure skater, that my parents were co-owners of an ice-rink? Why did we not hunker down in front of the tele to watch some skating bakc in Boston? When in undergrad I used to go to Harvard’s ice show to watch Paul Wylie.

  4. Jennifer Rains says:

    I have to agree! The coverage was a royal pain and very limited. The Gala on Sat. was terrible. The few they showed hardly skated except for Evan. And to Brooke: I loved Paul Wylie and those split jumps he used to do, like four in a row, or five! To anyone: Why has the skating changed so much? Didn’t see one split jump from anyone. Blogged about this today…I have issues…

  5. randasfans says:

    Thanks for the comments! And, Brooke, I’ve got a bone to pick with you — why all the secrets all those years in Boston?!?! I had no idea you were a descendant of ice rink owners *and* a closet skater! We could have done our project on that instead 🙂 And Jennifer, first: what’s your blog? I’d love to check it out! And second, I’m with you: I too wonder why it seems like it’s changed so much. What I wonder (and this makes me kind of sad) is if it isn’t *me* that’s changed, rather than skating itself. 1988-1998 were such exciting years, I thought. But now not so much … is it a fundamental change in skating itself (of course there is the rules change) or did I just grow out of it? One thing is for sure: now that the scoring system has been redesigned to eliminate subjectivity (and, of course, cheating) it also seems to have eliminated the drama, the heart. It’s no longer: okay, that was beautiful, but will the *judges* think so?!? They seem to have thrown the baby out with the bath water; in trying to improve the sport, have they killed it?

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