Smiley N. Pool /
Chronicle Olympic Bureau
NBC would like you to believe this man is going to skate away your freedom. Or something.
Oh my goodness, y’all, turns out? Some people take the Olympics really seriously. So, now that I’m Canada’s public enemy No. 1 or whatever, I’ll have to sleep with one eye opened, lest I wake up with a moose head in my bed.
Anyway, you don’t care about all that. You just want to know when Therese will be back. (Thursday.) In the meantime, let’s pass the time with glitter and ice skating and FABULOUS.
One of the things I love the most about the Olympics are the dramatic backstories. Take French figure skater, Florent Amodio, for example. He was abandoned on the streets of Brazil as an infant, adopted by a French family and discovered by his coach at four years old. At 12, he was diagnosed with a disease that causes EXTREME PAIN. This will be his Olympic debut.
And it seems like a pretty good debut to me. Now, I’m no Scott Hamilton, but he didn’t fall on his face, which is a plus. He did lots of dramatic covering and slowly revealing his face, of which I am always a fan. The only area I could say he could improve on is his outfit. I doubt his commitment to Sparkle Motion. Sure, he’s got the puffy white shirt, but there’s only minimal sequined detail. I’m expecting a much higher level of FABULOUS here. He received a 75.35 from the judges, who I’m pretty sure weren’t scoring his sequins, though they totally should have been.
Viktor Pfeifer from Austria followed him and was equally successful at not falling on his face. His black sequins on black shirt made him look a little like Edward Cullen in the sunlight (or a goth kid at Mardi Gras), so he had that going for him. I couldn’t catch his score, because NBC was too busy showing me footage of Karl from Die Hard. They’re showing this big, scary Russian (and it is always a Russian) who took the gold in Torino. And they’re showing him warm-up like he’s the Ivan Drago of figure skating. (Sidebar: His name is Yevgeny Plushenko, which sounds just a little too much like Pamchenko, the namesake of the famous twist.)
If that’s not enough, they also show this awesome package of him cruising around the gray streets of Russia (cut to hammer-sickle, check) as he tells the camera, “Many people don’t like me, but I’m going to skate anyway. My enemies, they worry about me because I’m back and they afraid a little bit. It’s great feelings, you know?” I mean, they might as well have just thrown in a line like “In Soviet Russia, figures skate you!” Where is Mary Carillo to teach us all about the significance of the fall of the Berlin Wall?
Before he takes to the ice, Canadian skater and drag racer (?) Vaughn Chipeur hits the ice. On the plus side, he uses a more modern piece of music, which is a nice break from the dramatic classical we’ve heard so far … even if it is something between an ’80s power ballad and the opening theme to a sexy, late-night drama on basic cable from the 1990s. He takes a tumble, but we’ll forgive him, because he’s super adorable.
It’s time for Plushenko and his sandy blond mullet. Seriously. It’s like he was a leftover villain from an ’80s action movie. The thing is? He’s really, really good. he nails his quad into a triple, which just sounds impressive, whatever it may mean. I’m also a big fan of his Celine Dion faces while he performs. I’m just wondering if this guy was from Canada and not Russia, would they have made up this whole preposterous “evil” character? It’s actually kind of embarrassing. Not cool, NBC. No duh, Plushenko rockets into first place with a 90.85.
Hey! It’s Dick Button! And apparently he’s skinned Grimace to get that lovely purple sweater. Button doesn’t think Plushenko was very graceful and he’s too flamboyant. He also struggles to call him an evil agent? Which is more than a little inappropriate and furthermore, he stammers and struggles to make the same observation I so eloquently made in the previous two paragraphs. That’s why they pay me the big bucks to be a blogger. (No, they don’t.)
Ladies luge time. Megan Sweeny of the U.S.A. is the first we see and she flies down the track with a full face of make-up. Like, what? Doesn’t that lash-blast mascara cause some drag? And while we’re talking about the gender divide in luge, why do the women start lower? What reason is there for women being biologically incapable of luging as fast as men? (I’m not asking out of outrage, just honestly curious for someone smarter than me to explain it.) American Erin Hamlin luges into second.
SIGH. Another stupid Vikings tie-in with Dreamworks. No. Please. Stop trying to make How To Train Your Dragon happen. It’s not going to happen. Also not going to happy? Who Do You Think You Are? Why would I care who Sarah Jessica Parker is related to? I have a great idea for a show. It’s called Won’t You Be My Neighbor? and we’ll just follow the neighbors of celebrities on their quest to have a greener yard, try to get some rest for work while Ashton Kutcher has a luau on a Tuesday night, and pick up the doggy doo Susan Sarandon’s poodle dropped on their lawn. Hey, at least those people are tangentially related to celebrities and still alive.
More women’s luge. Considering how worked up I got watching the menfolk fly down the track, I’m noticeably less nervous watching the women. Again, I’m glad they are all safe, but, I’ll just say it, luge is so very boring to watch. Especially slowed-down luge. Terrifying and difficult to do, I’m sure, but definitely not a spectator sport. ZOOM! WHOOSH! zzzzzzzzzzzzzz
Now, the Women’s Snowboard Cross heat. It’s super cool. I’m recognizing a pattern here. I tend to like events where all the competitors are competing at once, like this and speed skating. Tina Dixon tells all about how snowboarders need to use special goggles to see the track. They need glare protection as well as contrast to see the bumps. FASCINATING.
More exciting are the next two heats. In the first, the French snowboarder fails to make it over the first two bumps. In the second, one of the boarders wipes out through a fence and the second place French competitor falls and slides over the finish line. Fun stuff. And ouch.
You know who’s hitting the snowboard cross? Tubular’s favorite Courtney Love impersonator, Lindsey Jacobellis. She makes it look effortless as she leaves her competitors in her cold, white dust and secures her spot in the semifinals. Quick package on Jacobellis alludes to Torino and recovering after that. Huh? Turns out she lost the gold in Torino because she got cocky and attempted an unnecessary grab and missed the landing. Initially she lied about it and tried to say it was for balance, but really she was just pulling an Usain Bolt.
OH SNAP! In the semifinals, Jacobellis loses her balance and boards off track, getting disqualified! Bye,
Courtney Lindsey! That is a shock. Shock. Well, she sure will get a sweet “Is Jacobellis cursed?” montage in 2014.
Back to figure skating! And ZOMG IT’S PRINCE! Wait, no, it’s just Daisuke Takahashi. I can’t tell you why exactly I liked his routine so much more than the others I’ve seen tonight. Maybe it’s because his outfit looked like something someone would wear on Dancing With the Stars for a paso doble. Maybe it’s because he kept doing sassy hair-flips. Maybe it was lively music choice. I don’t know, but boy was it fun. And the perfect level of FAB-U-LOUS. His score: 90.25. Not enough to topple Plushenko, but really good.
Cris Collinsworth and Bob Costas come in to (TWITTER!) talk about (XTREME!) how cool (MOUNTAIN DEW CODE RED!) Shaun White (TWILIGHT!) is. It’s the lead-in to Collinsworth’s chat with our favorite ginger lady snowboarder.
White tells a story with his Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure voice about how he got the ribbon to his gold medal all dirty when he took it out partying and blahblahblah I’m rolling my eyes at all the coolness. Hey, did you know Tony Hawk discovered Shaun White? Of course he did. He also has his own private half-pipe in Colorado. Which is sort of scary and weird and excessive. All the same, I like my athletes eccentric and interesting, so, plus?
Stephane Lambiel is our next figure skater and his outfit, all black and Vicotrian with some puffy sleeve action up at the shoulder, looks like it’s right out of the Christian Siriano fashion show. His routine is markedly less fabulous, with his triple landing more like a double (though his footwork was a little more exciting in the second half of his routine). Apparently, he’s also considered the best “spinner” in this competition, which is sort of a hilarious superlative to claim. He gets a 84.63.
Well, huh. Nobunari Oda of Japan is apparently not only the 17th descendent of a Japanese warlord, his lineage also inspired the video game “Nobunaga’s Ambition.” So clearly, he would carry on his samurai ancestry by becoming an Olympic figure skater and wear this sparkly outfit with pointy sequined arrows cascading over the chest. He receives an 84.85.
Back to snowboarding cross, Canada takes their second ever gold on home soil when Maelle Ricker snatched first place. There is much rejoicing.
AND SPEAKING OF REJOICING, IT’S MARY CARILLO. Unfortunately, she’s not here to tell us about how to become a Mountie or how to harvest maple syrup or how to cast Degrassi. Instead, she’s here, in her signature turtleneck (which, I’m just saying, could totally cover up one’s Adam’s apple if one were to have an Adam’s apple that they wouldn’t want seen), to tell us about Canadian Patrick Chan, the first teenager with a shot to win gold since Dick Button pulled off his triple loop during the Ice Age or whatever. Chan’s coach is old. Really old. Coaching him while wearing pajama pants old. He was hard on Chan. And Chan is precocious. And no Canadian male has ever won gold in figure skating. No pressure, though, right Mary?
First though is Brian Joubert of France. He fumbled a bit in his first trick and couldn’t make the second jump. Then he fell a second time. Not even the awesome European dance music, nor the faux-vest effect of the sequins on his shirt can save him. He gets a 68. Japan’s Takahiko Kozuka skates to a Jimi Hendrix song, which is a nice change up. Not to get too new-agey, but I’m feeling his energy. Score: 79.59
Italy’s Samuel Contesti comes out in plaid and overalls? Sure? I was hoping he was skating to something like Born To Run or Little Pink Houses, but no such luck. He still wins Tubular’s special award for Most Handsome. We’ll even forgive that silly plaid patch on his back pocket for being so matchy-matchy. And we’ll forgive that big old belly flop he took. 70.60 points for Contesti.
Now, it’s Chan’s turn and the crowd goes wild. He does a lovely routine that I really found captivating, but, again, I’m no expert. The judges give him an 81.12, landing him in fifth place.
Up next is American Johnny Weir, the bad boy of figure skating. That’s kind of like being the bad boy of cotton candy salesmen. Or the bad boy of hospital volunteers. Or Adam Lambert. He’s got mesh gloves and sparkly pink laces and patent leather patches. He does a very FIERCE! routine and earns an 82.10.
Outfit Most Likely To Worn By A Brooklyn Hipster Figure Skater goes to Belgian Kevin Van Der Perren for his sparkly skeleton look. His performance isn’t as good as most of the others, but there are not big falls or mistakes. Just generally underwhelming. Great outfit, though. 72.90. (Also, definitely in the running for Most Handsome as well, just saying.)
Continuing with ridiculous outfits, Tomas Verner from the Czech Republic skates in white shirt with blue horizontal stripes and a red scarf. Not enough sparkles and too much Charles Nelson Reilly meets a French caricature for my taste.
One of my closest friends, who happens to be of Canadian descent, (some of my best friends are Canadian, see?!) texted me to tell me the American with black ruffles was “super hot — despite the ruffles” and I have to agree. American Evan Lysacek would have done Bob Mackie proud, with the sequins and the ruffles and the feathers. (Also, according to Therese, there’s a resemblance to General Zod.) It was really a sight to behold. It’s also a great routine, garnering 90.30 points. Enough to put him in second place. It brings tears to his eyes and makes him even more adorable.
Another adorable American, Jeremy Abbott, skates next to the Beatles’ A Day In the Life. Unfortunately, he sort of falls apart out there. Most of these guys know they’ve lost it when they miss those first two triples, so I really admire their ability to persevere and put on a show. When Jacobellis got DQ’d in snowboarding, that’s it. She was done in her tracks. These guys need to finish their program all while emoting and stuff. That’s got to be hard, to keep spinning really fast while already knowing your Olympic dreams have been destroyed. Poor Abbott gets 69.40 and lands in 14th place.
The night ends on a DELIRIOUS note when, after four hours of figure skating, the last competitor, Czech Republic’s Michal Brezina, performs to the most maddening song ever, Putting On the Ritz. It’s not a bad song, but it makes me all loopy. (Is that just me? Probably.) It was his Olympic debut (or, as it would sound up North, “day-boo”) and I thought it was a great routine. He gets a 78.80. Not bad.
So, heading into the free skate, the “evil” Plushenko is on top, with Lysacek not too far behind. Could the American come from behind? And if he does, I suspect it will feel a lot like this.