- The Georgian athlete’s death was extremely regrettable and sad. To come this far to achieve one’s dream and have it taken away so fatally is cruel. I blame the Olympic organizers for his death as they’ve done nothing despite repeated warnings that the track was too fast and dangerous. Of course, the cruelest thing out of all this is that no amount of “I’m sorry” and “It’s very sad and regrettable” from the Vancouver officials and IOC can resurrect Nodar Kumaritashvili. Jerks. May he rest in peace.
- I didn’t really get the Opening Ceremony’s theme, if there was in fact one unifying arc somewhere in the mishmash. Some parts were very interesting and entertaining, but some were just dull. (Example of dullness: the boy flying around over a fake wheat field while some music played in the background.) BTW — I’d never heard k.d.lang sing before the Opening Ceremony, and she was awesome.
- The cauldron failure during the Opening Ceremony was inexplicable and puzzling. Hadn’t anyone tested the thing, especially given the global TV rating and the huge budget Vancouver must’ve given to the planners? If one more column had failed to rise, the entire thing would have had to be scrapped, not that it was a scrappable part of the ceremony. It’d be like having a romance novel with an aborted happily-ever-after.
- Congratulations, Canada, on your first gold medal on home soil. :-) How exciting! I was hopping like mad because I really really wanted Canada to get a gold medal (or two or three). It’s just frustrating to not win any gold as a host.
- A double wow for the Korean 500m speed skaters. They’re very young (21 years old) and did fantastic under the heavy pressure. May they have a great competitive career ahead of them.
- Shaun White is not mortal. Neither gravity nor any other Newtonian Law applies to him. Just amazing.
- I’ve been watching several curling competitions, and I find them strangely absorbing. RCC did a half-hour segment on the science behind curling, which I found fascinating. Do you know that when athletes scrub the ice, it makes the surface slightly warmer, which makes the stone travel farther? Also when you want the stone to curve, you put a little spin on it as you release it. And the number of spins the stone makes as it travels across the ice determines the final curve. I didn’t know it was that precise. Now I have a new-found respect for curlers.
- I was in tears at the end of Shen and Zhao’s long program (figure skating pairs competition). They’re my sentimental favorite the way Michelle Kwan was in ladies, and for them to make such an amazing come back and achieve their 18-year-long dream was not only incredible but just so emotional. (And of course their marriage and the obvious love they have for each other totally got my romantic side going too.) It’s even more astounding given that Shen and Zhao are the octogenarians of figure skating — 31 and 36, respectively.
- The men’s competition (figure skating) judging was a disgrace. I’ve noticed a very obvious overscoring of Canadian pairs, but I didn’t mind too much since I agreed with the results for the top five finishers. But in the men’s competition, it was even more blatant and offensive. In the short program, Evan and Patrick were overmarked, while Evgeni (Plushenko a.k.a. Plushy), Johnny, Nobunari and Michal were undermarked. It’s no wonder Michal imploded during the long because it was obvious his heart just wasn’t in it as he was going to be screwed no matter how he did. Also the technical panel was very strict on lips but not so on flutzes. Again, it’s obvious a certain someone wants a certain someone else to win — or at least score well regardless of the actual performance.
This leads me to my biggest complaint about the figure skating competition so far: Plushy, Daisuke and Johnny were robbed. If it were up to me, I would’ve ranked the male skaters in the following order: Plushy, Daisuke and possibly Johnny or someone else who skated cleanly with great artistry for the bronze. I still don’t understand how a skater who skates the exact same program with the exact same arm flappings and the exact same black costumes regardless of the music (Yes, I’m looking at you, Evan!) can win for being more “technically sound” than Plushy, who’s never fallen on his competition jumps since Salt Lake City (if I remember correctly). To add insult to injury, Plushy used to land three quadruple jumps in competitions until his retirement three years ago; this season he did “only” two per competition.
Evan and Plushy received the same PCS (program component score), which means their choreography, transitions / connecting steps, execution, timing, etc. were on par. But for whatever reason the judges gave Evan a higher TES (technical elements score), even though Evan cannot even attempt a single quadruple jump, much less land it. To make the matter even more distasteful, the judging panel propped up Stephane (Lambiel) by giving him a ridiculously high TES despite numerous falls and stumbles. I adore Stephane, but if he gets such a high TES for his performance, Plushy definitely should’ve crushed Evan with his TES, unless the judges were trying to communicate that they love rewarding technical mediocrity. (Plushy landed two quads during the short and long programs, while Evan none, and Stephane had…very poor quads.)
American commentators claimed that the “total package” matters, meaning you should have a well-developed artistic side to your skating. Well, in that case, Daisuke should’ve won the gold medal as he has the most artistically pleasing program out of the top three, and he’s a fantastic jumper with superb step sequences. (BTW — his TES was ridiculously low, but his PCS actually was the highest out of the three.)
It’s a supreme hypocrisy for the American commentators to suddenly praise and defend COP (code of points; the new judging system implemented after SLC) after complaining bitterly about how it makes it harder for technically incompetent American skaters to win by looking “cute” or “balletic” (COP is much more strict about wrong edges [lips and flutzes] and under-rotations). Competitive figure skating is foremost a sport — or so the ISU claimed when it shoved it into the Olympic Games — so it should reward competitors with the most technically challenging programs that are correctly executed (meaning no falls or stumbles). All of Evan’s jumps, including his triple lutz triple toeloop opening combination, — except for the triple axels — are executed by ladies with more artistry a.k.a. less arm flailing and absolute disregard of the music. So we have a champion who jumps like a girl. Great. A complete regression in sport. By two decades. As a diehard fan, it is very frustrating.
Can you imagine Shaun White dumbing down technical difficulty of his runs because you know…he needs to look “artistic” while he’s competing?
P.S. I understand that many Americans liked Evan’s performance, especially those who watch figure skating every four years for the Olympics. If I’d never seen him before, maybe I would’ve been impressed, but I’ve been subjected to his repetitive skating for years now, and I don’t find him in any way, shape or form worthy of being an Olympic champion. I’d rather see Johnny Weir as the Olympic champ, even though I’m not a huge fan of his either, but at least he doesn’t rehash the same boring programs year after year. (Yes, I’m one of those dorky fans who not only watches every major international competition, but reads the protocols afterward to see how each skater was scored.)
P.P.S. No, I’m not a Plushy fan. I’ve always been a Yagudin fan. But I can respect what Plushy’s done for the sport and how technically strong and athletic he is. If you think he’s an arrogant jerk for no reason, watch his competitive skating programs since the Nagano Games. He’s done the kind of things that can make the current top skaters cry — or worse, leave them broken. (Literally – many of the current top contenders have fallen on quads and injured their feet, ankles, etc.) And in all three Olympic Games he’s gone to, he got no less than 2nd place: silver in SLC, gold in Turin, and silver in Vancouver. This is the kind of stuff that other top skaters wet-dream about.
- Luckily for me, TSS and NHK are planning to show the ladies’ figure skating competition live. I’m rooting for Yuna Kim to win the gold. I’ll be happy if any two from the following get the silver and bronze: Mao Asada, Miki Ando, Akiko Sukuzi, and Alena Leonova (although her chances are very remote, but I love watching her skate). If Canadian top contender gets overscored yet again from PCS (which has morphed into the Promote Canadians Score in Vancouver), I’ll be very annoyed. And I’ll be looking at the protocols closely because I don’t trust the technical panel for ladies’ competition.
How about you? How are you enjoying the Games? Who are you rooting for and what’s your favorite sport?