Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Must-see TV

Last night I stayed up watching the coverage of the winter Olympics. I'd gone in to the bedroom, so I was tired, but nonetheless I was caught up in the competition being aired at that time (which I'd started watching on the TV in the living room). I ended up lying in bed viewing the finals for about an hour.

I should interject here that I am not the sort to watch Olympic coverage. I tend to flip by it when it's on, observe perhaps a few minutes worth of the athletes, and then move on; it doesn't tend to capture my attention for long periods.

So what sport had me glued to the TV, staving off the Sandman? Something I've watched in person like hockey? No. Something more adrenaline-filled like speedy downhill skiing or rocket-like bobsled? Perhaps something featuring a name athlete such as Apolo Ohno, medal-winning short-track speed skater? No, those events are over.

What was it?

Ice dancing.

Yes, ice dancing. Not figure skating, with its throws and lifts, but ice dancing, with its rhythmic movements across the ice.

What about that would keep me watching? Well, in part I suppose I got caught up in the thrill of the competition, of seeing who would win. However, in part it was because there was an American duo in the hunt for the gold medal. Not only that, but they hailed from my wife's hometown and were juniors at the same university she attended; there was a bit more of a connection than average patriotism would dictate.

I'd seen a little bit of some earlier rounds the night before, but that was merely while flipping around. That was more just having the TV on in the background while I did stuff on the computer than getting involved in what was on screen. With last night's "free dance" round I found myself not only paying attention but also getting what I considered to be some modicum of grounds for gauging which performances were better than others. So I not only watched the Americans but also the Canadians who followed them, and then another American team, and then a Russian pair. During the opening American duo (Meryl Davis and Charlie White—egad, I remember their names without looking it up) I found myself watching and thinking, Okay, it's going well, now just don't mess up. And they didn't. After their routine they were in first place. Then when the Canadians were up I watched and thought, Well, if we (as though I were involved) must lose to anyone it would be okay if it's them, as they're really good. With the other Americans and the Russians I found my reaction was that their performances weren't as good.
Now, let's stop for just a moment and acknowledge that there I was, lying in bed (not even having to get up to adjust the volume), as someone who can maybe do half an hour of moderate exercise, casting judgments about people who could do moves while gliding across ice on one skate that I couldn't do even on dry ground with regular shoes on. The incongruity of that arrangement is not lost on me.

When the scores were in, sure enough the first American duo were edged out only by the Canadians. So as I kind of predicted during their performances I'd anticipated who would get gold and silver, and that seemed fair.

I even stayed around to watch the medal ceremony.

And now I'll utterly forget about ice dancing for another four years.


Photo courtesy of mlive.com.


  1. I, too, find myself rooting for whoever's competing, and praying for them not to screw up. Especially the single and pairs skating, where every move is prescribed or proscribed, and errors are quite obvious. It's easier to stumble as a skier or a luger and still pull out a win, because it's all about who gets to the end first. Not so with judged sports like skating.

    I remember the Salt Lake City Olympics, watching the Canadian pair lose the gold to the Russians. I thought there was going to be a riot right there in the stands. The ensuing judging scandal was even more fun than the competition.


So, what do you think?