I Can’t Shut Up About Figure Skating
Some people get hidden on Facebook because they post incessantly about their children or quizzes that prove they are just like Hermione Granger or controversial political opinions.
I’m going to get hidden because I can’t shut up about figure skating. Also because I post dumb stuff about how I want Tostitos, but that’s another story.
Every four years, the mania comes over me like a mental illness that I’ve previously held at bay with medication. But then… the Olympics starts and I’m powerless. All other obsessions fall away. Sorry, novel writing. I’ll come back for you later, Parks and Rec. J K Rowling, I will deal with you and your ridiculous shipping opinions at another time. I have only one love now. I am Bella Swan, consumed by thoughts of my one true love– Edward “Figure Skating” Cullen. He can watch me sleep at night and tell me what to do and drive me around in his stylish Volvo. I’m smitten.
But why? I didn’t grow up figure skating– I’m not even sure one could train to be a figure skater in the swamps of Louisiana. And I manage to ignore it for 3 years and 11 months at a time. Furthermore, sports don’t generally appeal to me; I happily forget about the Super Bowl every year.
Yet, I find myself gushing about the figure skating hopefuls and the behind the scenes drama every chance I get. My neighbor asked me how I was doing, and I launched into discussing the documentary I saw about Tonya Harding and how it made you look at her and the classist issues of figure skating in a whole new light. My neighbor nodded thoughtfully and asked if I had batteries for my flashlights if the power goes out in the ice storm we’re currently experiencing in Atlanta.
“Oh, yes,” I blinked at her. Of course I do. I grew up in hurricanes. “Hey, have you hear of Tessa and Scott? The Canadian skaters who everyone wants to get together in real life?”
And there’s your answer. This is why figure skating so consumes me on a quad-annual basis. I’m sitting here watching the pairs figure skating final, and I’m barely looking at my TV screen. The skating is almost the secondary love. What I really love, what I really can’t get enough of, is the backstage drama, the costumes, the thoughtful articles about the social issues that figure skating brings to light, the possible romances amongst the skaters, the epic soundtrack music to which they compete, the clothes that Johnny Weir dons while commentating for NBCSN, the snarky tweets by the figure skating community…. It’s like getting to watch a fantastically over-the-top soap opera that only airs once every 4 years. And I suppose there’s snippets of this available to a willing audience in the three years intervening, but there’s no better pressure cooker for the drama of figure skating than the high stakes of the Olympics.
And you only get this high drama in figure skating. None of the other sports in the Winter Olympics seem to inspire this avalanche of commentary. Perhaps it’s because of the artistic side of skating? Or that it’s an historically feminine sport (feminist scholar friends, feel free to weigh in)? Or maybe we have Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding to thank for our modern day thirst for drama on the ice. They who knew the storm sicken of the calm and all that.
If you, like me, need to feed the addiction, here’s some links and assorted online material to sate your hunger for the ice. And I’m planning to write a couple more blogs about the skating this year, so maybe come back for those? I mean we haven’t even talked enough about my new favorite bromance, Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir. And dear sweet Midori Ito, we haven’t even scratched the surface on Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir and their rivals from America Meryl Davis and Charlie White. That’s the kind of plot line that is primed and ready for a CW drama. And we Americans have been woefully unaware! Luckily, I have Canadian friends who were all too happy to fill me in on that whole situation.
If you’re in the US, you should be DVRing the live competitions while you’re at work– check the listings for NBCSN on your digital cable. If you’re not that invested in your TV, you can stream it online. This is where we get the commentary from fabulous Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinksi, who are egregiously not the commentators NBC utilizes for the edited broadcast version we get during primetime. Just look at what they wore yesterday. NBC, you are dummies for not tapping this gold mine. Weir has a braided pompadour. BRAIDED.
A couple of other Twitter accounts to follow:
@shutupbuck – Funny but mostly kind commentary on the skating programs.
@fuggirls- You probably already know the Fug Girls for their blog Go Fug Yourself. They are also massive figure skating fans with plenty to say about fashion choices and side eye from competitors.
Speaking of the Fug Girls, you can plunder their archives for years of figure skating snark. Here’s the most recent one from the US Figure Skating Nationals.
Still really interested in Nancy and Tonya 20 years later? This Believer article is a great recap of what really happened. (Thank you to my friend J for pointing me toward it.) The ESPN 30 for 30 series also just aired a fantastic documentary examining Tonya’s side of the story. Maybe you can search ESPN’s listings for the next airing? Or buy it on iTunes? Or do something a little illegal to watch it? And here’s an interview with the director in which she suggests Nancy is convinced Tonya totally knew.
And blessed Buzzfeed is the gift that keeps on giving with multiple posts about my new favorite topic.
24 Reasons You Were Obessed with Women’s Figure Skating in the 90s
And here’s that Russian figure skater doing a routine synced up with “Pony.”
16 Things Johny Weir has Looked Like in Sochi
Check back here tomorrow or the next day for a closer look at the competitors, and the stories I’ve made up about them in my head. Spoiler alert: somebody has a non-ironic rattail.