Monday, February 17, 2014

Day 11: How I Learned to Embrace Ice Dancing and Get Over 2010

Ice Dancing.


America didn’t even realize it was an Olympic sport until 2006.


Before that, it was just that really annoying ice skating thing between men’s and women’s figure skating.


Back in 2002, I accidentally tuned in to an ice dancing competition. What I remember is makeup. The girl had on an obscene amount of makeup. I also remember incredibly garish outfits. They didn’t jump, they didn’t throw, and they couldn’t let go of each other.


Forget that! I changed the channel.


I grew up after Torvill and Dean, and ice dancing was nothing spectacular. Even though figure skating is huge, that was one thing that America didn’t embrace. Russians certainly did - they haven’t missed a podium in years.


I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but thank goodness for Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto. The good-looking pair was actually a pretty good ice dancing team. When NBC caught wind that they were competing for a medal and were attractive, they went all-out for this duo. They got bronze, which was fabulous. Suddenly Belbin was the face of ice dancing (Agosto apparently wasn’t good enough), and NBC made sure to give Primetime coverage to ice dancing in 2010.


Belbin (and Agosto) didn’t live up to expectations. Instead, it was two young pairs that trained in Michigan who took the Olympic world by storm. And they had the world's biggest stage in order to do it.


In 2010, I was all about Meryl Davis and Charlie White. Being from Michigan, it was great seeing them represent. And they did everything they could in their three (yes, three) routines. Unfortunately, the “home ice” of Scott Moir and Tessa Virtue propelled them to the top.


I have been bitter about that for four years. Whenever I showed my students the 2010 Olympics DVD, I cringed when it came to the ice dancing portion. I didn’t hate Virtue and Moir - I really thought that Davis and White deserved that gold medal.

Between now and then, there were some changes made in ice dancing. They didn't benefit anyone, really, but it made it a lot easy for the audience to enjoy.


The figure skating committee figured out that they could do away with some old, crappy parts of ice dancing, and did away with the stupide first “compulsory” dance where everyone did the same steps. They also got rid of the “original dance” which didn’t have much originality to it, since there were so many guidelines they had to follow. In its place was a short program, which has a smaller required set of steps they had to include.


Tonight, I felt vindicated, even though I had nothing to do with the ice dancing event at all. I could finally get over 2010 and move on, because it was clear that Davis and White were better!


Because of nasty fog in the mountains, NBC could give an incredibly large amount of time to ice dancing in Primtime. 12 years ago, that would have been horrible for NBC, but this year they probably were the ones who ordered the fog!


The thing I appreciated about Davis and White’s performances in 2010 and 2014 were that they were playing roles. In 2010 they danced to music from The Phantom of the Opera and this year they danced to “Sheherazade.” That meant they had to take on roles, and they did both performances beautifully!


If you were to ask me the two routines of Virtue and Moir, I’d have to shrug my shoulders. In 2010 they captivated the audience with their lovey-dovey “look at us we have chemistry!” routine. (It didn’t captivate me - I wanted to vomit.) In 2014 they...performed yet another lovey-dovey “look at us we have chemistry!” routine. I was hoping to see the routine that they did in the team program, which had something different, but they went with something incredibly similar to 2010. Bo-ring!


It was clear that America wanted Davis and White to pull this thing off. They probably had more expectations heaped on them than any other athlete at these Winter Olympics. Everywhere you looked - commercials, magazines, newspapers, the Internet - there was White and Davis. (They were as popular as Wallace and Davis!)


There’s something different about these guys, though - they stepped up to the challenge and conquered it! They needed 112 to win? They got 116! I pumped my fist and said “Yes!” because I knew that it wasn’t a doubt in their mind.


Way to go Michiganders. I feel so much better about 2010 - I’m sure you do too!


Mini Blurbs


Get on up, it’s bobsled time! 2-man bobsled concluded today, with the Americans taking a bronze medal. They won the world cup this year, so their finish might be disappointing in that respect, but they hadn’t taken any kind of medal in 2-man since the 1950s, so they accomplished that!


I was worried the newly designed bobsled would have the same issue as the newly designed speedskating outfits, but that ended up not factoring at all. The US has succeeded in the sliding events, but it would be nice to get a gold!


I just realized today that while there is 2-woman bobsled, there isn’t 4-woman bobsled! Why is that? I think there should be. Especially if the bobsled picture logo is four heads and not two.


Lindsay Vonn is haunting me: As I arrived at the Denver airport yesterday, Lindsay Vonn’s voice greeted me as I took the tram to the baggage claim. She encouraged us all to root for Team USA in the Olympics, and also mentioned that the world ski championships were going to be in Colorado next year. Next year, huh? Maybe I’ll have to take a little jaunt up to the mountains… (Or maybe I’ll just need to get up to the X Games that are there EVERY YEAR.)


No one takes the blame: The Norwegians are now complaining that the reason they aren’t getting more medals in cross-country is because of their skis. Why can’t anyone just admit that they didn’t train as well as they should have and now they suck?


Belarus? How incredible that the country of Belarus has made such an impression in the Olympics. They won two events on Friday, and they won two events today: women’s biathlon and men’s aerials. Green is making a comeback!


The guy that won the aerials, Anton Kushnir, won after the Chinese adversary, Zongyang Jia, came down from his aerials and did a forward flip in his landing! (Note: you’re not supposed to do a flip in the landing.)


Today’s roundup: ice dancing (live), men’s aerials, men’s 2-man bobsled, women’s biathlon, team ski jumping, men’s curling


Czech balance: We got a silver! Gabriela Soukalova won silver in the women’s biathlon.


I had mentioned earlier that biathlon was different from cross-country skiing because they started in spurts so they could all fit in their shooting. Well, the biathlon today was a mass start, so I was wrong. There were only 30 skiers in the mass race so all of them had room to shoot.


Today Bob Costas (I know - Bob Costas!) is reporting from… that lighthouse in St. Joseph, Michigan.


Tomorrow there are seven medals being awarded because of the fog from today. Looking forward to getting back to the students and seeing how much they watched over the weekend!


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