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GET DOWN FROM THERE THIS INSTANT.
I am a mother. And while I struggle to be cool with that fact, and try to pretend that I am not some minivan-driving, antibiotic-carrying nag, sometimes I see things that make the mom in me come raging out.
For instance, I turn into Momzilla when I see people who think it is a good idea to strap long strips of metal to their feet, push themselves down a long ramp and sail through the air, just because.
NO. YOU GET DOWN FROM THERE.
Momzilla also freaks out when she sees people who think that if they put on some skimpy clothes and cavort around, contorting themselves in inappropriate positions, people will like them more.
NO. YOU GO PUT ON SOME PANTS BEFORE YOU LEAVE THE HOUSE.
Sigh. When did I become so old? Who bought me this Kenny G cassette tape? And where did this Snuggie come from?
For some reason, instead of being in his cozy den with the fireplace and teevee screens, Bob Costas is in a seaplane. Making Snakes on a Plane jokes? Maybe he had these jokes saved for the last Winter Olympics, but never got a chance to crack them? The point is, someone at NBC thought watching Bob Costas flying around in a seaplane would make riveting television. And I suppose if you were in the 1800s and were like WHAT IS THAT FLYING CONTRAPTION? AND HOW DOTH IT LAND UPON WATER? AND WHAT IS THIS STRANGE BOX THAT IS SPEAKING AT ME? AND WHO ARE THESE TINY FAIRIES THAT ARE INSIDE OF IT? Then, yeah, fascinating. Otherwise, it’s just Costas in some earphones inside a plane, which, so what? Who cares?
We begin with Team Ski Jump, which I didn’t realize even existed. Apparently, everyone is REALLY REALLY happy that Harry Potter, the ski jumper from Switzerland is not competing, because he can catch a golden snitch like no one’s business.
Austria is the team to beat, or, at least it is according to our announcers. But I suspect that like me, 99% of all Americans have no idea whether or not this is true. And call me a conspiracy nut if you want, but what if they remind us every 30 seconds that the Austrians are pretty much guaranteed to win this and if they don’t they should essentially commit hari kari due to the shame they would feel so that when they don’t win it will be DRAMA! and INTERESTING! I mean, all I’m saying is that this event isn’t being broadcast live, and for all we know these commenters taped this in a studio an hour after the whole thing finished, and maybe, maybe, all this “Austria must win!” nonsense is a huge set up so that when Germany wins, American audiences will be like, “Well, even though we didn’t have a dog in that fight, it sure was interesting! We didn’t see Germany’s big win coming, especially since Austria was supposed to take it all!”
We learn a bit more about Austrian ski jumper, Gregor Schlierenzauer, or “Schlieri” as he is known in Austria. Schlieri has created his own clothing line, and fancies himself a photographer. And as Schlieri zzzzooooommmms and WHEEES! the little pop-up thingy in the bottom corner alerts us to the fact that Michael Phelps will be swimming in 4 minutes? Wait, what?
For an hour.
And then the Austrians win the gold, so there goes my big conspiracy theory. I’ve been watching too much Lost.
Oh look, giant merman Michael Phelps is here to talk to Bob Costas about being a spectator rather than a competitor in the Olympics. Yes! Tell us all about what it is like to watch world-class athletes do things that you aren’t capable of doing! How illuminating this will be to the entire world that does not participate in any Olympic events! Michael Phelps assures us that he will not eat 8 medals of any sort in London in 2012. And blah blah blah blah let’s talk about things that happened nearly two years ago blah blah blah. Could they really not find anyone who is actually competing in these Olympics to talk to for 10 minutes?
Tom Brokaw brings us a story on Kevin Pearce, a snowboarder that is unable to participate in the games because of an accident a few weeks ago. Apparently, while training in Park City, he smacked his head on the lip of the half-pipe, suffered a traumatic brain injury and he very nearly died. He’s making good progress, but it is too soon to say whether or not he’ll make a full recovery. But, it is telling that his family is thrilled that he is making sounds and able to squeeze their hands and OH MY GOD I AM CRYING AND WILL NEVER ALLOW MY SON TO SNOWBOARD AGAIN. And he has a younger brother with Down’s Syndrome that Kevin is particularly close to? STOP IT, NBC! STOP. IT. And the brother with Down’s Syndrome went down to the hospital and cried and demanded that they take care of his brother? ENOUGH. Sobbing. I am sobbing. The Pearce family is hoping that Kevin will be able to walk on his own sometime soon, and his speech is severely compromised but everyone is hopeful. Sigh.
ICE DANCING. Tonight is the Free Dance, which accounts for roughly 50% of the score. So, it’s important. Really important. What makes this dance “free” is that they can choose any music they would like “as long as it has a beat.” Also, they aren’t forced to dress up in ridiculous “native” garb, that is, unless they want to.
Our first pair is Canadian, Vanessa Crone & Paul Poirier, who skate to “Nocturne” and “Bohemian Rhapsody.” And by “Bohemian Rhapsody,” I can only assume they are referring to Queen’s operatic masterpiece. It is, but unfortunately, it is some lame cover without an ounce of Freddy Mercury, which: LAME. It’s a tasteful dance with tasteful outfits and everything is perfectly tasteful. However, a few more “GALILEO! GALILEO FIAGARO! MAGNIFICO-O-O-O-O!”s and a few fewer saddy sad faces, and they might have won me over.
We head to the Men’s Arial in Freestyle Skiing, which OH MY GOD WHAT IS HAPPENING? These dudes, they ski up and over a ramp and start flipping and twisting and flipping and flipping before twisting again before landing and WHAT? WHO’S MOTHER ALLOWS THEIR CHILD TO DO THIS IN THE FIRST PLACE?
Matt Depeters of the United States is going to attempt something called a back full double full? Sure. Then, American Ryan St. Onge (which would make for a terrific soap opera actor stage name) does a full double full full, and even though it sounds like I am being flip (ha, pun so intended) and making up the names of these jumps, I swear I am not. St. Onge (who plays nefarious playboy villain, Drake von Palmerson on Days of Our Children’s Light) finds himself in second place after his series of improbable flips and twists.
I wonder what kind of regimen of anxiety medications these freestyle skiers’ moms must be on.
Jeret “Speedy” Peterson from the US is the inventor of “The Hurricane,” which is not a punch drink one enjoys whilst strolling down Bourbon St. and flashing one’s boobs at frat boys in a fair and reasonable exchange for cheap Chinese-made beads. No, “The Hurricane” is a jump that somehow involves 5 twists and 3 flips. A full triple full full full full? Maybe? And what’s this? Speedy was thrown out of the Torino games by the USOC for “conduct unbecoming of an Olympian?” TELL ME MORE. Ooh, apparently it involved a drunken fight of some sort. Probably after enjoying one too many Hurricanes. I don’t judge. It happens.
The Belarusins are all over this event and doing quite well in their Darth Vader costumes.
Scotty Bahrke is only here because another teammate had appendicitis. Apparently, Scotty’s sister is Pinkie, Shannon Bahrke, the Bronze medalist in Women’s Freestyle Skiing! He will be doing a full double full full, also known as the Gin and Tonic (no, it is not). Scotty does some beautiful flips, but lands on his behind, so, boo.
And, oh look, the Australian fellow, David Morris, appears to have dyed his hair an alarming green and yellow, because, like Shannon Bahrke, he feels the need to remind us that freestyle skiing is X-TREME!!!!! He does well enough, I suppose. Apparently, Mary Carillo will cover the second half of this qualifying competition while we’re all in bed.
Quick! Back to Ice Dancing! Americans Emily Samuelson & Evan Bates are going to skate to “Canto della Terra” by Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman. Samuelson & Bates are lovely and graceful and pleasant enough to watch, but, listen. If Dancing with the Stars has taught me anything, it’s that “Free Dance” means that you put on a creepy doll costume and do a weird limp dance that involves putting your crotch in your partner’s face while a bad cover of the Rolling Stones’ “Start Me Up” plays worriedly in the background. Where is the doll costume? Where is “Start Me Up?” Where’s the pizzaz? Samuelson and Bates take first place for the moment. It won’t last.
British siblings Sinead Kerr & John Kerr, who, last we saw, we’re doing a gross impersonation of an 18-wheeler, are skating to Linkin Park. And just typing “Linkin Park” makes me all aggro and want to punch someone in the face. That’s what “nu metal” (AGAIN, PUNCH SOMEONE IN THE FACE) does to me. They do some dramatic lifts, including an alarming one that involves her doing a handstand on his thighs, and one in which she lifts him! And I have to say, while I hate Linkin Park something fierce, there was the pizzaz I was looking for. Well done, Great Britain! Also, thanks for not grossing me out again! First place for you! For now!
The Frenchies, Nathalie Péchalat & Fabian Bourzat, dance to “Summertime Overture” from Requiem for a Dream, and the announcers tells us that their theme is “time” which we will be able to tell by their arm and leg movements, lifts and the fact that sometimes everything goes all white and their noses bleed. And WAIT, IS HE SUPPOSED TO BE DRESSED LIKE A GIANT CLOCK? Awesome. The announcers can talk about how “contrived” their theme is, BUT HIS HANDS ARE LIKE CLOCK HANDS. COME ON. And now they’re in first place because he got extra preposterous makeup points for that thing painted on his face.
Oh, Isabelle Delobel & Olivier Schoenfelder, with your wacky hijinks during the introduction where you push and trip each other! These two have been skating together since they were twelve, and this is their last competition, so they are skating the story of their career together. Which I suppose explains the funereal clothes and skating to “The Impossible Dream.” BUT WAIT. They rip open their tops to reveal SPARKLES! YAY, SPARKLES! And color me charmed, but I like these kids. Farewell, Frenchies! I don’t know why everyone is writing you off, especially since you now take the lead, BUT WHATEVER. Au revoir!
WHY, HELLO THERE, FLASHY RUSSIANS! Jana Khokhlova & Sergei Novitski are here with their fabulous to skate to “Firebird,” AND THEY ARE NOT KIDDING AROUND. Ruffles and sequins and skin, LOTS of skin, and much flapping about. The announcers are talking about how “you have to like what they tried to do,” so I suppose it didn’t work? Prediction: they take the lead and then lose it to the next pair who skate.
Hey! You know who’s awesome? America’s Alpine Skiers, that’s who!
Americans Meryl Davis & Charlie White have been skating together for 13 years and are perfectly adorable, as evidenced by this footage of them when they are 10 years old and full of adorableness. However, they are dancing to music from Phantom of the Opera, which really? I wish they’d deduct points for lack of originality in music choice. I personally would choose to skatedance to a medley of “Dream On,” and “Shoop,” but then again, I’ve never put on a pair of skates in my life, so what do I know? Our American babies are quite good! They went for it! Or so claim our announcers. And I’m not saying Meryl looks like a N’avi, but I’m also not saying she doesn’t look like a beautiful flounder either. They score like a zillion points (107, akshully) which, SURPRISE! puts them in first place.
The Italians, Federica Faiella & Massimo Scali, are next, dancing to THE GODFATHER SOUNDTRACK? ARE YOU KIDDING ME WITH THIS? And he’s even dressed as Vito Corelone in The Godfather, Part 2. Srsly. This is happening. The Italians are actively engaging in broad Italian stereotypes. It is, literally, just as bad as if they had come out with a “frickin’ poof” and their hair gelled within an inch of its life, flashed their abs which they referred to as “The Incident” or “The Circumstances” and fist pumped their way through a routine. IT WOULD BE JUST AS INSULTING.
They skate well, manage to not make anyone an offer they can’t refuse or send anyone to sleep with the fishes, and find themselves in second place. For now.
Canadians, Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir are very cute, and drive the home crowd crazy. They are lovely and balletic and I have nothing terrible to say about them, and they very well might be better than adorable Americans, Meryl and Charlie. The crowd certainly thinks so, and who am I to argue? Still, the waltzes are my least favorite dances on So You Think You Can Dance With the Stars and, similarly, I am kinda bored by this. It’s a personal failing, I know. SO GO AHEAD. LEAVE THE HATEFUL COMMENT. I CAN TAKE IT. Virtue and Moir score a remarkable 110 points and solidly take the lead. Well done, Canada! (And secretly, I am pretty sure they deserve it.)
More Americans: Tanith Belbin & Benjamin Agosto, are next. He appears to be dressed as a late-era Elvis, and, well, I don’t know what she is dressed as. Someone whose dress was caught in a shredder? They are skating to “Ave Maria” and “Amen,” which, wait, what? They are perfectly capable, but lack that ease and delicacy of the Canadians before them, so. Also, I’m irritated by his hair. They find themselves in third place — for the moment.
The Russians, Oksana Domnina & Maxim Shabalin, are wearing FACES. I just don’t know about these two. What with their ridiculous “aboriginal” costumes that mostly involved ferns stuck into their skates and hair. Apparently, these costumes are controversial, too, as they are wearing these weird face/S&M get-ups, with ropes wrapped around their bodies. It seems our skaters might use these ropes in their lifts. CONTROVERSY! And there it is right there: Maxim grabs Oksana by her belly rope and spins her around, just because. Their music also incorporates “Summertime Overture” from Requiem for a Dream, and, like “Fallin'” by Alicia Keyes on American Idol, perhaps it’s time to retire this particular piece of music from the competition?
In the end, the graceful Canadians win the Gold, the adorable Americans win the Silver and the weirdo Russians win the Bronze. YAY, NORTH AMERICA!
This is the part where I hand it off to Bobby who will be handling more bobsledding, skiing and ladies’ figure skating tomorrow. And if you’ll excuse me, Mommy has a Hurricane she needs to go finish.