Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Are You Watching the Olympics?

Last night we watched pairs figure skating at the Vancouver Olympic games. If you didn't watch it yet, and you have it recorded or something, I'm going to spoil it for you so you might want to stop reading this post and come back after you've watched it. Go ahead, you really should.

Sunday night they did the short program, and Monday night they did the free skate, the medal standings determined by the skaters' combined scores. We missed watching the live short program because we were traveling, but we got to see some of it while eating dinner Monday. The story of this Olympics is of the Chinese couple, Shen and Zhao, who have won numerous competitions, but never the Olympic gold medal. They even came out of retirement to compete in Vancouver. Their last chance.

I don't know much about how they score these things. It doesn't really matter to me either. Teresa and I both were pulling for Shen and Zhao because just watching them skate was a joy. It was noticeably better, more refined, more elegant, than many of the other skaters. Their short program (from Sunday night) was flawless, and it put them at the top of the rankings going into the free skate on Monday. Monday night they skated last, and they had some hiccups, but most of the other competitors were falling all over the place, paving the way for China to win it's first gold in pairs figure skating in a long while. But what was even more exciting was the other Chinese pair, Pang and Tong, who skated a beautiful, error free, program last night and vaulted them to second place.

So China ended up with the top two places, and they earned it too. Even though I don't really get the scoring system, it appears to work because these two couples did skate the best in my opinion. Of course, I'm probably somewhat influenced by NBC playing up the story of the skaters who were giving it their all for their last shot at Olympic gold, but that's okay. That seems to be what the Olympics are about. It's not just about the competition. It's about the story of the competitors. Sometimes it's frustrating though. They kept mentioning how one of the American skaters was struggling to make ends meet financially in his home life, but came to compete in the Olympics anyway. I'm sure he appreciates them broadcasting his financial situation to the world.

I'm watching the Olympics and I'm enjoying them. It's also fun to watch them with Teresa, who holds her breath every time the skaters do a jump, or the man throws the woman across the ice. You always think they're going to fall, until they do, or they don't. And then you exhale.

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