Turning up the Heat on Ice Skating

02/18/2010

Now I’ll be the first to tell you that I’m a huge sports fan. The sound of cheering and applause after the singing of the national anthem gives me goosebumps every time. And I’m open-minded too. Cheerleading? Sure, it’s a sport, as long as flips and jumps are involved; I’m not talking about the peppy yelling that goes on on the sidelines of football games; I mean the cheerleading competitions. Golf? Definitely it’s a sport. You hit a ball one inch in diameter 400 yards in four shots and land it a hole merely 4.25 inches wide and then get back to me on whether its a sport or not. Poker? Sorry Phil Ivey, I’m not that open-minded.

But the other night, as I was watching the Olympics, I found myself following the men’s figure skating event (don’t judge me) and was surprised to find that I could not decide whether or not I considered it a real sport. My first instinct was to say yes. I know that I could never get out there and pull off a triple axle (I was the kid holding on to the boards during peewee hockey); but I also know I could never carve a statue out of marble or bake a wedding cake, but neither of those are sports. Thus, an activity that simply sits off my radar cannot be considered a sport.

And the costumes. Don’t even get me started on the costumes. In a period of one hour, I witnessed men wearing Shakespearean robes, plaid button-downs with overalls, mesh shirts (wait, can they be considered shirts if they’re missing sleeves and buttons) and about ten million sparkles.

Apparently pink was going out of style. Ladies and gentlemen, the man representing the United States men’s figure skating competition, Johnny Weir. I think it’s safe to say he definitely has more talent than fashion sense, but talent does not directly translate into sport. People with precise aim have an extraordinary talent, yet not all of them are athletes. Pitchers are, whereas dart players are not. One competes in our national pastime, the other, in bars. Sorry Johnny Weir, but for me, figure skating is like darts. Hockey is the sport. There’s a reason the kid in the Mighty Ducks decided to play hockey instead of figure skating–he wanted to be considered an athlete (and I hear he was allergic to nylon).

But overall, the real reason I came to the conclusion that figure skating is a faux-sport is simple–it has reached a plateau of skill; everyone who is out there skating is capable of doing the exact same jumps, spins and tricks. No one is coming up with new stuff. So as every skater finished his routine, I became less and less impressed.

There was a pattern being used by each skater:

  1. He would start in a femininely provocative pose, waiting for the music to start.
  2. The music and routine would begin slowly. A few spinning jumps would be attempted.
  3. The music’s tempo would then increase, allowing the skater to dance (unfortunately for those watching).
  4. Then, the music would slow down again; the skater would do some spins, usually grabbing his foot in a position that makes me question his manhood.
  5. Finally, the skater (or should I say dancer) would come to a sudden stop, look to the crowd, and either metaphorically or literally blow a kiss to the audience.

And whoever followed these steps the best, stumbled the least, smiled the most and glowed-in-the-dark the brightest would win. Maybe. Because, after all, the winners are subjectively decided by judges, and don’t even get me started on that.

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