In Sochi, Bob Sleds You (On Your Face)

До свидания! (Photo: Bernat Armangue, AP)
До свидания! (Photo: Bernat Armangue, AP)

As Costas and The Eye lay out tonight’s events, I’m filled with a sense of overwhelming satisfaction. Sure, I may have been stuck with the most boring night of the Sochi Olympics, but I’ve also got the night that has the GALA OF CHAMPIONS figure skating. Take that, Therese!

So, imagine my crushing disappointment when we spend most of the night watching the first two bobsled heats and more speed skating.

You guys. Seriously. If there’s a gala of champions figure skating event happening, why aren’t we spending this entire time watching that? Why? It’s like the end of the summer camp talent show! How are we not just watching this nonstop? PLUS! They’ve finally let Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski into the primetime broadcast!

Instead we only get to see like four skates. Look at all the stuff we missed. You couldn’t show us the routine based on Dirty Dancing? Really?!

UGH. FINE. The few fleeting moments we spent with Weir and Lipinski and a very uncomfortable Terry Gannon were still amazing. Weir reminded us that tonight’s skates were “no holds barred, aside from nudity.” He and Lipinski were decked out with flowers in their hair, and Weir dropped a stellar Mean Girls reference when he said “On Saturdays, we wear flowers.”

Of course, the skates we see are so, so boring. Meryl Davis and Charlie WhiteKrakow skate to Rachmaninov, because they hate fun. (Both the concept of light-hearted pleasure, and the pop-rock outfit fun., who brought us the song, “Some Nights,” which would have been a much more enjoyable soundtrack to skate to!) Gold medalist Adelina Sotnikova did a very elegant “Oblivion Tango,” that was pretty, but boring. (Bonus points for giant butterfly wings, though.) Yuna Kim chose to perform to John Lennon’s “Imagine” (which, let’s be real, is already sort of insufferable at this point), but then it was the Avril Lavigne version? Which I didn’t even know was a thing? And now I can’t unknow that? And basically, GOOD RIDDANCE, YUNA KIM. YOU GO RETIRE NOW. YOU ARE DEAD TO ME.

There was actually a little fun in Gracie Gold’s “All That Jazz.” At least she sort of smiled and did some fun Fosse moves. I’m not really asking that much guys! Just give me a little razzamatazz.

While other skaters are doing this, we instead are watching a bunch of other events that feel like we’re scraping the bottom of the Olympic barrel. There is still somehow more Alpine skiing, for example. And everyone totally bit it on this one. No, seriously. Thirty-four of the 77 skiers didn’t finish the course because it was so hard, including American Ted Ligety. I guess I never really thought of the course makers for these events. I just assumed, given my absolute zero understanding of slaloms and super combined and moguls and whathaveyou, that it was like a standard that everyone followed. But no! Apparently it’s more like The Hunger Games, and there’s a game maker with serious issues who lays out the course to make all the skiers fall down, go boom. Also, one of the skiers is the course designer’s son? Which seems more than a little suspect. Everyone loses. Or something. I’m not even sure. May the odds be ever in your slalom.

Moving on!

Team pursuit speed skating. So unnecessary. It’s just more of the same, genderless humanoids whooshing around the track. This time, there are three at a time from a country on the ice, but it just looks like the Putty Patrol is attacking the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers on ice. In fact, after the men’s finals, they go into the women’s finals and I honestly didn’t understand why the men were still racing since they already gave the medals away. Go, Greendale Human Beings!

We also see the first two heats of the men’s four-man bobsled final. Steve Holcomb is up again, trying to defend his gold medal led victory in Vancouver. Before he races, we learn a little about his struggle with depression and attempted suicide. Holcomb suffered from some sort of ocular condition that was causing him to go blind, which, even if your job isn’t careening around an icy track, is pretty bad news. He kept the condition secret to keep on bobsledding, but it was all too much to handle. So he downed some sleeping pills and whiskey and that was that. From the depths of his darkest hour, he learned of a new procedure to restore his vision. Hooray!

But not hooray! Now his eyesight was so good it distracted him from his bobsledding mojo somehow, because irony is a cruel, cruel mistress. (Also, the gold comb his wife got him for Christmas was no good, since he had to sell his hair to pay for the procedure. #ohenryjokes) Lucky for Holcomb, he just put on a helmet with a dirty visor and now he is sufficiently blind, but not too blind to drive the bobsled, which was better than his Plan B.

We only see the first of two runs in this four-run event, so I cannot tell you based on this broadcast who won the medals. However, we did see the Canadian team go down the track pretty much on their faces.

In non-sporting segments, we spent a whole heck of a lot of time with Paraolmypian Jessica Long. In the most emotionally manipulative package we’ve seen yet, we learn how this swimming star learned about her Russian birth family. But for the first few moments (and this segment goes on forever, through a couple commercial breaks, even), they won’t show Long’s legs. So much footage of her swimming that cuts away as soon as her knees come into view. Then, at a perfectly timed emotional moment, they show her swim over the camera “revealing” that she’s a double-amputee. It just felt, I don’t know, gross? Like, did NBC expect us to be shocked?  No time to dwell on that exploitation though, because now we’re going to watch her just talk and talk and talk about being adopted and wanting to meet her birth family and how she imagined herself like Anastasia and on and on and on. She even goes back to the orphanage she was at and visits the workers there and holds babies. She finally meets her birth family  and everyone just cries and cries and cries. I guess what makes this story particularly interesting — besides the fact that it features a gold-medal winning double-amputee — is that her birth parents stayed together and got married and had more children. Don’t get me wrong, I for sure cried during this whole thing. But still, it was a long, strange way to kick off the night’s proceedings.

Anyway, don’t forget to tune in to Mary Carillo’s package on Nancy and Tonya tonight. I’ll be live-tweeting @bobbeyonce, join me, won’t you? Then, Therese is back to do vodka shots and recap the Closing Ceremony.

This post originally appeared on the Hearst site


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