Why I spent my Valentine’s Day with the Men’s Freestyle Skiers and a harlequin clown or two.


Paul Chinn / Houston Chronicle

Because I don’t know anything about figure skating, I’m still confused as to why these two did so poorly despite not falling on their faces. YEAH, I’M TALKING ABOUT YOU, CANADA AND RUSSIA.

I’m really not pointing any fingers, BOBBY, but when I was all excited about blogging the Winter Olympics, I didn’t count on spending my Valentine’s dinner in front of the television watching the Men’s Single Luge and the Figure Skating Pairs Short Program.

Nor did my husband, Mr. T.

Happy Valentine’s Day, honey! You are the best husband that ever husbanded! Have I mentioned that? Look! I got you some Women’s 3,000 Meter Speed Skating to show you how much I love you!

Which is what we will begin with tonight. And I assume that because Apolo Ono isn’t competing tonight, we’re just cutting to the chase and beginning mid-competition, not bothering to fuss with the preliminary heats or any of the lamer racers. The Czech Republic and Japan are up first and apparently, Japan and Czech Republic crashed into one other pretty badly about a year ago on this same track so NOW IT’S A GRUDGE MATCH. But not really. And wait, what is going on with the Japanese skater’s suit? I feel like I’m seeing a lot … more of her than I should be through that gold spandex. Happy Valentine’s Day, y’all! Here’s Miss Japan’s … area. The announcers keep warning me that there is A LOT MORE SPEED SKATING TO GO, which, while I like skating fine, only comes off more as a threat than anything. The Czech Republic wins probably because she wasn’t having to worry about people seeing her lady business.

A Canadian skater, Kristina Groves, is skating against some German and O LOOK! DONALD SUTHERLAND! He’s here because he’s Canadian! Which we learned in the Opening Ceremonies as he intoned some poetic somesuch over whales and maple leaves and You Tube slam poets. The big story is that Canada would very much like to get a gold medal on their home territory, something that has never happened, and were really really close to doing it last night UNTIL THAT HANNAH AMERICAFACE STOLE JENN HEIL’S BIG MOMENT. GAH. Always ugly, the Americans, with their lack of respect for Canada’s Big Moment. But, not only does the Czech Republic lady beat Groves’ time, but a German does too, so no gold for Canada. Not just yet. (And you can’t blame the Americans this time around, Canada. Also, note that the Czech Republic lady celebrated by running around with her flag. So it’s not just another jerky American thing that Americans do, it’s kinda a thing that everyone does at the Olympics.)

Ooh! Figure Skating! The Pairs Short Program! Which is one of like a zillion figure skating competitons that we will have in the next couple of weeks. Which is fine, because figure skating with the outfits and the divas and the bedazzled and the prissiness is what the Olympics should be about, frankly.

Apparently, one of the Chinese couples, Zhao Hongbo and Shen Xue, are the big favorites in tonight’s competition amongst the judges and NBC, what with Their Story: They’re old! They’re married! It’s Valentine’s Day! It’s Chinese New Year! IT’S DESTINY!

Listen, I don’t know much about figure skating. True fact: I’ve never put on ice skates in my life. So, I am completely dependent on Scott Hamilton to let me know if everything is going alright, and he’s yelling a lot about the Chinese team nailing it, so I suppose it’s going well. Seeing as no one fell, I guess he’s right. Sure enough, Zhao and Shen rack up the highest scores in the history of ever, so yay! 新年快樂!

Luge happens. I have a hard time watching this for a number of reasons: 1. The obvious 2. I really don’t get luge. How much control do these guys have? Isn’t it all about momentum? Can they see where they’re going? 3. I’m terrified to drive 88 miles an hour, it gives me heart palpitations to watch someone go that fast on a sled wearing socks and a helmet.

A bunch of Germans win. And we have yet another tribute to Nodar, and more talk about how his death has tinged the games with sadness and how he didn’t really think he’d win anything but that he wanted an opportunity to fight well in the games and I am crying all over again.

Bring back the figure skating.

American figure skaters, Caydee Denney & Jeremy Barrett! And LOOK! Joe Biden! Peggy Fleming! Jeremy Barrett is apparently dating Amanda Evora, who is on the other American team, so happy Valentine’s Day to them! Scott Hamilton isn’t shrieking about how they’re “nailing it,” so I guess they’re not doing that well, and everyone is talking about how Caydee messed up but, as long as she didn’t land on her face, I think she did pretty great.

Some Russian figure skating pair comes out and sorta half-performs and they aren’t particularly in sync, or seemingly even interested in being there and I’m not saying that Mr. T and I could have done a better job except that that’s exactly what I’m saying.

O LOOK! More Dreamworks synergy fun with CGI viking nonsense. Don’t think of this as a commercial, America! It’s entertainment! Enjoy!

Next up in the Pairs Figure Skating: US silver medalists, Amanda Evora & Mark Ladwig! Fun fact: Mark Ladwig has a lot of jobs! He’s struggling to make ends meet! Isn’t that funny! NBC thinks it’s hilarious that in these hard economic times, our Olympic atheletes have to find work as zamboni drivers and DJs! HARDEE HAR HAR, NBC.

As for Amanda Evora, girlfriend of other American skater guy, she’s from Sugar Land! H-townish represent! Oh, and also, she had so many bruises as a child from skating practice that her teachers thought she was abused. HAR HAR HAR! Child abuse is funny. EXCEPT THAT IT TOTALLY ISN’T, NBC.

Amanda and Mark are not skating to “Endless Love,” but I wish they were because that would be awesome. Scott Hamilton is pretty excited about their jumps and spins and lifts and stuff and as far as I can tell they look as good as the Chinese but the announcers are saying things like “well they had fun!” and “they did as well as they could have hoped to!” so I guess it wasn’t as good as I thought it was? But then they’re suddenly in second place which shouldn’t be shocking considering how blah the Russians were, but this surprises our announcers very very much in any event.

Now the Canadians, Anabelle Langlois & Cody Hay who have “courage” and “toughness” because Anabelle broke her ankle once. We spend a lot of time exclaiming over the jumps and how they relate to Anabelle’s ankle. The crowd is very proud of Anabelle’s ankle who promptly knocks our Americans into third place.

Men’s Moguls! But before we get to that, here we go again. Boo hoo. Jenn Heil didn’t win gold last night. She was supposed to. And the Americans ruined everything. Wah. The men do all the mogul craziness with the hopping and the flipping and the speeding and as a very limited skiier that begins whimpering at the mere sight of a mogul, I have nothing but respect for these crazy people who do this. They are crazy crazy people with little to no regard for their personal safety or their knee cartilage.

Bob Costas interviews Hannah Kearney because we just want to rub rub more salt into Canada’s Heil wounds. For laffs.

Back to the crazies over at the Men’s Moguls. So here’s an awesome story: the handsome “Australian,” mogul skiier, Dale Begg-Smith, has a dual citizenship with Canada, but he skiis for Australia. See, when Dale was 15, he started a spam business (booo! hisssss!) that made him piles and piles and piles of cash. But his Canadian ski coaches were haters and questioned his commitment to skiing. Dale was like, you know what? Fine. Smell ya later, Canada. And took his skiis and skillz and his handsomeness and his millions to Australia, and won the gold for them in 2006. NBC keeps insisting on calling him an “international man of mystery,” mostly because he doesn’t like to do press conferences, and they make a big hoo-ha about how this Canadian-now-Australian will do tonight.

Have I mentioned how much I love these packages that NBC does? Because I looooove them and I’m not even lying.


Paul Chinn / Houston Chronicle

Here’s your gold medal, Canada. Can we stop talking about it now?

Once the competiton begins, the Americans take turns wiping out on the moguls, and the Candians make amazingness, but then Dale Begg-Smith shows up and knocks the Canadians out of first place, and then Bryan Wilson from America manages to not fall on his face, and finds himself in second, but then Alexandre Bilodeau of Canada comes and does a bunch of jumps that were absolutely stunning and he moves into first place, AND CANADA MIGHT FINALLY HAVE ITS HOME TURF GOLD, BUT WAIT! There’s one more competitor! Just like last night, when the Americans came and STOLE JENN HEIL’S MEDAL! But this time it’s a Frenchman! And he’s good! And fast! Really fast! So fast, in fact, that he has the fastest time down the mountain yet! BUT! DRAMA! The Frenchman doesn’t grab his ski or something in his fancy jump, so what will happen? WHAT WILL HAPPEN? And after a moment as Canada’s hearts collectively stop while they wait for the judges, the announcement is made! Canada wins it! Canada finally wins its first gold medal on home soil, ever! And look at me, I’m actually happy for Canada. Yay, Canada!

Hey! Have you ever heard of this Apolo Ono fellow? Well, NBC would like to spend 6 or 7 minutes telling you about him in case you somehow had no idea who he is.

Back to pairs skating: Russian skaters Maria Mukhortova & Maxim Trankov apparently hate one another so much they have to see a sports psychologist. This strikes me as hilarious. Also, I suspect that they’re going to be spending some more time in the shrink’s office after Maxim splats on the ice. I see some anger issues in Maria’s future. Still, they knock our Americans out of third place which is kinda nonsense, but whatever.

The Ukranian skaters come out in shiny Sue Sylvester track suits, and the dude falls and then Scott Hamilton says a bunch of catty things about him and what is this music they are skating to which the moaning and crying? Weird.

Yet another set of Russians come out, Yuko Kavaguti & Alexander Smirnov, wearing some sort of bird outfits which since they’re skating to “La Cygne” is not particularly original or anything, but they’re lovely and they don’t fall on their faces, and they score well, despite the lack of originality in those outfits.

Jessica Dubé & Bryce Davison, who are Canadian to the delight of the crowd, come out, and she falls, but they’re cute and charming as Canadians are wont to be, and they score really well to everyone’s shock.

The last two Chinese pairs come out and perform close to flawlessly, although some of the moves the last pair performed with the legs and the were, um, “dynamic” as they announcers like to say. Happy Valentine’s Day!

The Germans, Aliona Savchenko & Robin Szolkowy, NOT ONLY ARE WEARING HARLEQUIN COSTUMES, BUT ARE SKATING TO “SEND IN THE CLOWNS.” And now I am in love with the Germans. Not only did they embrace the kitsch, they journeyed through the thick of it, and came out the other side into awesomeness. And landed themselves in second place for their trouble.

And then we’re apparently done with that, because here we are at Hannah Kearney’s medal award ceremony, but Bob Costas and this other chucklehead are burbling about how moving it will be to hear the Star Spangled Banner instead of just SHOWING US THE CEREMONY, but then once it does play, Pinkie, the Bronze medal winner, steals the show by screaming the words behind Hannah Kearney. Way to go, Pinkie! I guess you didn’t get enough attention for your X-TREME hair color? And then Bob Costas starts yammering about how much he bets Jenn Heil wishes she won the gold, AND O RLY, BOB? YOU THINK? YOU THINK JENN HEIL WISHES SHE HAD WON THE GOLD INSTEAD OF THE SILVER?

That is some gold-medal commentary right there, Costas. Gold-medal.

Check in with us tomorrow for Pairs Free Skate, Alpine Skiing, more Speedskating and DUDE, SNOWBOARDING.

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