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What? You were expecting Nordic combined?
It’s here, folks. The most anticipated night in the Winter Olympics is here. It’s finally time for the women’s figure skating free skate. Will our leading Asian lovelies continue their dominance? Can Joannie Rochette, the Canadian who tragically lost her mother a few days ago, put that emotion into her long program and bring me to tears once more? WHO KNOWS? What I do know is that we’ll have to suffer through more NORDIC COMBINED throughout the night. SIGH.
First on the ice is Tugba Karademir, skating for Turkey. Apparently she’s like the only figure skater ever from Turkey. The announcers can’t even talk about her national championships because — HA HA — she’s it. Her parents couldn’t even afford to come to the games until an anonymous donor footed the bill. It all feels very patronizing. Anyway, she falls on a double and then can barely complete a single — a single?! — midway through. The announcers remind us she should just be happy being here with her parents, and not worry about her performance or score. 78.80 for this part, 129.54 combined with the short program. Oh well, thanks for playing, Little Match Girl!
Great, here starts the Nordic Combined. zzzzzzzooooommmm WHEEEE! ski jumping. Snooooooooozzzzeeee. Here’s something I never knew — Did you know that ski jumping is not just scored on distance? It’s based on points that get awarded for flight style and landing, in addition to distance. We’re what? Three-quarters into the games and I’m just now learning. That shows just much I care about ski jumping. And in Nordic Combined, the leaders in ski jump get a head-start in the cross country part.
Hey, for those of you who don’t have the Internet, Lindsey Vonn took a bit of a spill yesterday and broke her finger. This was a wee bit upsetting to Julia Mancuso, who was already on the course and had to stop because Vonn was busy being tangled all up in a fence. Her restarted first run was no good, landing her in 18th place. During her second run today, she rockets momentarily into first. It’s not for long, and Mancuso finishes in 8th place. She goes over to the crowd and pops a bottle of bubbly, maybe to taunt Vonn for that whole shredding her thumb trying to open champagne thing.
Oh, no. No. Nononono. HOCKEY. NO ONE WARNED ME THERE WOULD BE HOCKEY. Canada beats the U.S. in women’s hockey. Yay?
Cynthia Phaneuf of Canada is on the ice for the free skate and, is it just me, or does she look sort of pissed? Like, I thought she was just warming up, but it turns out that was just her opening! Where are the graceful arms and flowing movements? The announcers tell us she’s just had a growth spurt and that can be really difficult for a skater. I guess so; that would explain her fall. 99.46/156.62.
YES. A MARY CARILLO SEGMENT. Apparently, Costas tells us she is now Ms. Canadiana. Sure! That’s great! And guess what? SHE’S GOING LOGGING. There she is, in all her flannel majesty. “I don’t get to yell timber?” IF A CARILLO FALLS IN THE WOODS, DOES IT HAVE AN ADAM’S APPLE? Also, according to Carillo, trees are still felled by hand. Then they dump the logs in the water and float ’em on down a river. Also, there’s a guy whose job it is to plant trees. He thinks he’s planted “aboot” 2.5 million trees in his life. Pretty neat! Oh, Mary, what will you teach us next?
And now some skiing aerials. TERRIFYING. For real. The first skier we see, Canada’s Warren Shouldice, smashes his head on the ground on his first jump. MAN. OUCH. This is some crazy stuff. I could totally get down with this. It’s completely insane, like a circus performance. Also, damn. Do these guys have any padding on their backs and bum? That’s got to hurt if you don’t land on your feet. (And also if you land on your feet; those poor knees!)
Back to figure skating. It’s Cheltzie Lee, of Australia. She only found out she was coming to Vancouver about three weeks ago when Israel turned down their spot. This is Cheltzie’s first long program on a world stage. It all seems a bit tentative. The nerves show. But, hey, she seems super young and adorable and I’m proud of her for making it this far. She also takes an itsy, bitsy fall, which takes her longer to recover from than it seems to take most. 86.00/138.16.
Meanwhile, in aerials, everyone’s talking about Jeret Peterson and his HURRICANE move. It’s 5 twists and 3 flips. That’s a lot of flips and twists! He pulls it off! And now he’s in the lead! But then? Some guy from Belarus takes the lead? Without a Hurricane? That doesn’t sound right, but I guess Belarus could use a medal, so let’s all share and play nice.
Coming up next, the DRAMATIC CONCLUSION of Nordic Combined, that thrilling athletic display of uniform aerial performances coupled with grueling, deliberate cross-country skiing. Could you think of anything more exciting, because I certainly can’t. Except maybe FIGURE SKATING. Or SPEED SKATING. Or MARY CARILLO DOING A WALK-ON ROLE FOR DEGRASSI. OR PRETTY MUCH ANYTHING EXCEPT BOBSLED. GAH.
(Quick sidebar: I’ve been indiscriminately fast-forwarding commercials during these four-hour marathon blocks of Olympic viewing. So tonight somehow became the first time I saw that Visa commercial narrated by Morgan Freeman about Dan Jansen. You know, the one whose sister died right before he speed skated at the 1988 Olympics and he promised her he’d win for her, but then he fell and he lived in heartache until the 1994 Olympics where he won gold and skated his victory lap with his newborn daughter, whom he named after his deceased sister? Yep. Made me cry.)
Oh man, I am so bored watching cross-country skiing that I am on Wikipedia reading about Tonya Harding. Not kidding. “In late 1996, Harding used mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to help revive an 81-year-old woman, Alice Olson, who collapsed at a bar in Portland, Oregon while playing video poker.” Well, now you know.
Um … zzzzzzzz … HUH? What? Sorry, I dozed off. Hey! Look! The U.S. won their first gold in Nordic Combined. Yay!
And now, at last, uninterrupted figure skating. Elene Gedevanishvili is up for first, skating for Georgia. And she’s skating to “Carmen.” Why? Because this is figure skating and that’s how we roll. Apparently. 93.32/155.24.
IT IS ON. This last group is all the top skating ladies. It’s about to all go down.
First, however, a dramatic montage on the RIVAL ASIANS (NBC’s words, not mine). It’s the least revealing montage ever. It’s like those scenes in movies when characters’ lives flash before their eyes … if someone’s life was only 6 months long and was really heavy on figure skating.
The U.S.A.’s best chance at gold, Rachael Flatt is up first. She’s starting at fifth place. If she doesn’t medal, this will be the first American-less podium for women’s figure skating in quite some time. Good thing she nails it! I mean, really nails it! She knows it too. There’s a huge smile on her face at the end. You go, Rachael Flatt! 117.85/182.49. She seems pretty disappointed with that score.
Japan’s Miki Ando is up next, performing as Cleopatra, which, OK, I wasn’t aware this was a character study competition, but alright. I don’t think Cleopatra did much ice skating. It is sort of slow and deliberate. Like cross country skiing. 124.10/188.86. I do not think she out-skated Rachael Flatt. Not one bit.
Our leader from the short program Korean Kim Yu-na is next. She skates beautifully. Flawlessly. The announcer even says “This is glorious. It’s one of the best Olympic performances I’ve ever seen.” I agree. Unreal amazing. She cries a bit. It was really excellent. She earns a crazy amazing 150.05/228.56. THAT IS A RECORD HIGH SCORE.
Her only competition (but not really anymore, let’s be serious), Japan’s Mao Asada, is next. She does have the distinction of being the first woman to do three triple axles in a competition ever. She makes a couple of little mistakes throughout that the announcers assure us will be “so costly.” She’s also making some scary faces. DO NOT LIKE. Wow. This is disappointing. 131.72/205.50.
I can’t even begin to prepare myself for Joannie Rochette. I’m really rooting for her to medal. I think she stumbles a bit at one point, but it’s hard for my non-expert eyes to tell. No matter, she gets 131.28/202.64 … placing her in third. That’s bronze! And only one skater to go.
So now I’m torn. The last skater is an American, and our only chance at getting an American on the podium. On the other hand, I really, really, really want Rochette to win. Ah, forget it, I’m rooting for Rochette.
Last up is our gal Mirai Nagasu. OH NO, I FORGOT NAGASU’S MOM HAS THYROID CANCER. Can’t we just watch skating without all the tragedy? Gah. I need to call my mother. She skates a lovely program, just lovely. Not nearly as good as some of the other leaders, but still a great showing for a young talent. 126.39/190.15. Fourth place. Not bad!
Our winners: Gold – Kim Yu-na; Silver – Mao Asada; Bronze – Joannie Rochette. Hooray! What a wonderful night of figure skating. Magical.
Here’s what NBC says I’m in store for tomorrow:
Expect Lindsey Vonn to be competitive in her final event at Vancouver, the slalom. Plus, Apolo Ohno races for Short Track gold live (ET/CT), and American Katherine Reutter looks to cap an impressive 2009-10 World Cup season with an Olympic medal in Short Track (women’s 1000m final). Also, Bobsled.
“ALSO, BOBLED?!” UGH.
This post originally appeared on the Hearst site Chron.com.