Women’s Figure Skating, Skiing Halfpipe and other things that made us cry

It’s the 13th night of these Sochi Olympics and I am all out of witty banter so let’s just get on with it already.

Hey, Bob Costas, what will we be watching tonight?

  1. Ladies’ Figure Skating Free Program
  2. Ladies’ Skiing Halfpipe
  3. Men’s Ski Cross
  4. Crying, so much crying

We start the evening dry-eyed (FOR NOW) with Men’s Ski Cross. The Ski Cross attempts — somewhat — to minimize the chaos of its brother event, Snowboard Cross, by only having 4 competitors at a time rather than 6. After all, 8 poles flying around are 33% less dangerous than 12 poles. (DO NOT CORRECT ME ON MY MATH, I AM NOT INTERESTED.) That said, there is still plenty of opportunity for everyone to go crash spectacularly and cross the finish line on their faces, trust.

In fact, in the first Quarterfinal run, only one skier, Armin Niederer of Switzerland, manages to make it across the finish line upright. The other three skiers crash literally inches from the line, and a photo finish is required to determine which of these three stooges will move on to the semifinals.

ski cross q1

(Contrary what the GIF says, the second spot goes to the Russian.)

While that was the most spectacular of the crashes, it was by no means the only one. While the second and third Quarterfinals proceed smoothly (and boringly), the fourth Quarterfinal might have been the best Quarterfinal. For one thing, it features a sassy Slovenian with a sassy ‘stache and a sassy name: Filip Flisar. I mean, look at this moustache!:

filip filsar
Slovenia by way of Williamsburg, Brooklyn. (tumblr.com)

And if that moustache is not enough, right at the very end of the race, the Norwegian skier, Didrik Bastian Juell, tries to make a big play to pass Mr. Moustache and win. It does not end well for the Norwegian.

norwegian jump.jpg
Well, that didn’t go as planned. (vulture.com)

NBC decides to skip over the Semifinals altogether, and so we are left to our own devices (Wikipedia) to deduce that Mr. Moustache was eliminated at that point. While this is unfortunate for our comedic purposes, it does make available a lot more wax for the remaining competitors’ skis.

The final four are Brady Leman of Canada, Some French Daft Punk Robot, Some French Daft Punk Robot and Some French Daft Punk Robot. Brady takes a bumbling fall somewhere at the midway point, and the trio of Some French Daft Punk Robots zoom easily into all three medal spots. Congratulations, Robots! I guess you “Got Lucky!”


Sad news from the Den of Loneliness: The U.S. Women’s Hockey Team lost to Team Canada in overtime in the Gold Medal match. BOOO. But right around the same time this entry will be posted (probably sometime long before this gets posted, let’s be real), the U.S. Men’s Hockey Team will face Team Canada, and there is a lot on the line:


UPDATE: Well, crud, looks like we’re keeping him.

Cris Collinsworth is in the Den of Loneliness with Bob Costas, and he actually appears to be sober. I suppose Bob Costas poured out the remaining vodka on his eyes. Cris Collinsworth is here to tell us the story of Sarah Burke, the woman who brought women’s ski halfpipe to the Olympics, and, more importantly, to make us cry so hard.

Sarah Burke was a Canadian freestyle skier and pioneer of the halfpipe competition. She fought to allow women to compete in the event in the X Games, where she went on to win the Gold four times. She then turned her attentions to bringing the event to the Olympics. And she did! She convinced the IOC to add Women’s Skiing Halfpipe!

But, of course as you might have noticed, we are speaking of Burke in the past tense, so you can just guess where this is headed. In 2012, Burke hit her head while in the halfpipe, and 9 days later she died. Her husband and her mother assure us that the only thing worse than losing her would have been never having had her in their lives in the first place, BUT THAT’S NOT MUCH SOLACE, NOW IS IT? and now I’m a sobbing mess. I become even more so when NBC shows us that the other competitors have put Sarah’s name on their helmets, their jackets, their skis; and even more so when they show us that her mother is in Sochi for the inaugural event — and she looks so happy! — and EVEN MORE SO when NBC shows us a glimpse of the Olympic tribute to Sarah:

heart for sarah

Stop. Stop it. Everyone stop. I can’t.

glass case of emotion

Fortunately, we move on to the actual competition before I am completely dehydrated.

The Canadian competitor, Rosalind Groenewoud, who has dedicated her performance to Sarah, doesn’t honor her memory particularly well, falling after her first trick. She scores a miserable 5.40. TAKE THAT, CANADIAN WOMEN’S HOCKEY TEAM. (Sorry, Sarah.)

Maddie Bowman from South Lake Tahoe is the one to watch in this competition, and puts up an amazing first run with spinnies and twisties (those are the technical names, you guys, for real) and scores an impressive 85.80. And yes, I agree, the men’s competition is much more exciting and aggressive and impressive, but do not discount what Maddie is doing here! It’s crazy! SOUTH LAKE REPRESENT!

The other American skiers, Brita Sigourney and Angeli Vanlaanen have less spectacular runs. Brita, whose multiple injuries are listed for us (broken collarbones and pelvises, torn acls, injured hands — MAYBE IT’S TIME TO RETIRE, BRITA), falls in her first run and scores a middling 76.00 in her second; and Angeli, whom we learn has Lyme Disease, scores pair of miserable scores: a 13.60 and a 29.60. She should talk to Yolanda Foster over on the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills about the benefits of the Master Cleanse for Lyme Disease and Halfpipe.

The French skier, Marie Martinod, has a pair of strong runs, as does the Japanese skier, Ayana Onozuka, but neither can catch up with Maddie Bowman who seals her Gold medal with a score of 89 on her second run. South Lake Tahoe is having a very good Olympics. (If not the best winter conditions unfortunately for my personal purposes. YOU BETTER START SNOWING, TAHOE.)

Martinod takes the Silver and Onozuka takes the Bronze and it’s hard for me to make the hahas because R.I.P. Sarah Burke. And now Christin Cooper is here to interview everyone and make them cry. Does anyone know where Bode Miller is? Can we bring him down here and get his thoughts on Sarah Burke, please?

How excited are you about Mary Carillo’s look into the 20th anniversary of the Kerrigan/Harding debacle? Are you so excited? I am so excited.

Speaking of figure skating, it’s time to wrap up the entire category with the crown jewel of the Winter Olympics: Ladies’ Free Program (read: 4 minutes of spinning around in tiny dresses to classical music).

We begin with Japan’s Mao Asada, who had a not great performance the night before: she fell down (deduction); she wore a purple dress, but did not skate to Prince (deduction); she was not Russian (deduction). And though she comes out in a fiercabulous blue number that is all sharp edges and feathers, and though she gives a flawless performance — strong and lovely and easy — she ends her skate in tears, knowing that no matter how well she did — and she did amazing — it doesn’t matter, she is not going to medal.

She scores a 142.71 which brings her all the way from 16th to 3rd in this event, but only 6th overall. If she had just done a little better, if she had just stayed upright the night before … I FEEL YOU, BOO.

The other Japanese skater of note, Akiko Suzuki, skates to Phantom of the Opera. She falls down.

Our Russian-American 15-year-old, Polina Edmunds skates to Peer Gynt. She falls down.

The other 15-year-old Russian-Russian, Yulia Lipnitskaya, skates to Schindler’s List. She falls down.

America’s 19-year-old ice princess, Gracie Gold, skates to The Sleeping Beauty. And even she, little miss perfect, she falls down.

But you know who doesn’t fall down is the Italian skater, Carolina Kostner, who has a strong skate to Bolero. While she tunes out the Russian audience’s arrhythmic clapping, the commentators tell us that, after two disappointing Olympic appearances, her mother encouraged her to just come out and skate for the sake of skating this time. And if this were a movie, she would do just that and take home the Gold, finally vindicated. This is not a movie. Though Carolina scores an impressive 142.61, ultimately she will go home in fourth place which does not come with a medal. she takes home the Bronze. [Whoops! Thanks for the heads up, Bellacantare!] But points for that outfit that shows off her Prince babybump we’re all sporting after this Olympics!

Russian skater and sleeve-hater, Adelina Sotnikova also manages to stay upright for her routine, except for a small stumble on one of her double twisty things. There’s so much hands in this routine: Adeline spends a lot of time looking at her weirdly gloved hands while sliding around the rink, and I’m reminded of Will Ferrell’s appearance on The Tonight Show last night:

Anyway, she does fine. At one point, Adelina literally demands the crowd start clapping for her. They gladly oblige and I can’t help but think this enthusiasm from the crowd has something to do with the 149.95 she earns from the judges, which is an astounding 18 points higher than her personal best.

Of course, that’s the more generous explanation. There are other, less flattering ones.

Ashley Wagner also manages to not fall in her performance. And while I’m not a huge fan, even I have to admit — begrudgingly — that she has a strong, solid skate. And yet? Somehow? She only scores a 127.99? She comes behind Gold and Lipnitskaya, both of whom fell? I don’t understand Olympic Figure Skating Judging. I guess they also suffer from Taco Cabana Lady from the Commercials Syndrome. As you might have heard, Ashley is none too happy about these developments herself. (Here is a cogent response to her complaints.)

The final contestant of the evening, Yuna Kim from South Korea, also doesn’t fall down in her performance to “Adiós Nonino.” In fact, she has a smooth, grown-up, gorgeous performance, and despite not skating to Prince, she deserves all of the prizes.

She does not win all of the prizes. Kim scores a 144.19, and this places her in Silver, and I am pretty sure she’s been robbed? Can someone who knows something about skating tell me if she’s been robbed? Because I kinda feel like she’s been robbed. I hear the commentators telling me that Adelina had a more technically challenging routine, but let’s all be clear, she did not give a flawless performance. And so at what point do we overlook errors and reward the intention over the actual performance? Because this really feels like the fix was in to give the first Russian Gold in Ladies’ Singles here in Sochi. And the fact that the judges panel included judges from Russia, Ukraine, Estonia, and Slovakia but not one from South Korea or America does nothing to assuage that feeling.

And in conclusion:

ahsley wagner

Let’s check the McDonald’s Medal Count: America is in the lead with 25, Russia is second with 23, and Norway only has 21 — but they have the most Golds. I’m not sure how to feel about this.

Some links that hopefully won’t be infuriating: Jimmy Kimmel pulled another one over on us; this guy isn’t interested in Russian food SO BACK OFF ALREADY; and here are the things that you’re really thinking while watching figure skating, just admit it already.

Alright, sochickens, tonight is more women’s skiing and some speedskating, but I’m afraid I’m going to have to sit this one out. I have actual sports in my actual life to attend — a little league game, if you must know — and I am not going to blog it, thankyouverymuch. Bobby will slalom you through Saturday night, the last night of actual events, and I will be back on Sunday to get sassy with the Closing Ceremonies. Until then, my little Olympians!

This post originally appeared on the Hearst site Chron.com.

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