In which Nathan Chen breaks my fucking heart.

I’ve got to be honest with you, I’m starting to get Olympic fatigue. It’s been a week and my typing fingers are getting shaky, I’m feeling a little weak in the attention department and I’m starting to fall asleep the minute Bode Miller begins speaking. BUT I HAVE TO POWER THROUGH THE PAIN. WWMCD? WHAT WOULD MARY CARILLO DO?

(By the by, where IS Mary Carillo? Has anyone seen her? HAVE WE LOST MARY CARILLO? DID THE NORTH KOREANS GET HER?)

We begin with Women’s Freestyle Aerials, one of the coolest-craziest sports in the entire Olympics, in which insane people put skis on their feet, ski up a ramp, fly into the air where they twist, turn and flip and attempt to not land on their faces.

Note: they often land on their faces.

We are only treated to 6 skiers as they compete in the event final, in which, unlike other freestyle events, you are given only one chance. I mean, technically, the final had three parts, but if you were in the bottom, you were eliminated. Which means we are down to the 6 final skiers on their third and final chance. Whatever they do here is all that counts, there isn’t a best of three score thing going on here.

I just mention all of this because American Madison Olsen decides, for reasons that ultimately are completely baffling, to do a new, fairly unpracticed trick, and she falls on her face, eliminating her chances for a medal.

I mean, I admire her shrugging it off and being all “LOL, WHATEVER,” and I also admire the fact that she didn’t break her neck, but this seems like some poor executive decision making on her coach’s part.

Belarus’ Hanna Huskova does an amazing flippy thing, but on her landing places her hand down on the snow, which is better than putting your face down on the snow, but still. She is given a 96.14.

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Next is China’s Zhang Xin, who also does a cool twisty thing and who lands on neither her face nor her hand but instead, intriguingly enough, on her skis. She, however, is given a 95.52 because I guess her twisty thing was not as hard as Huskova’s flippy thing? Anyway, these two come in gold and silver, followed by another Chinese skier, Kong Fanyu, who falls on her face, causing Huskova to cheer happily because she knows she just won the gold. I mean, for all Huskova knows, Fanyu could have broken her neck, but she and Xin are all, “HOORAY FOR US!”

But the most amazing part of Women’s Freestyle Skiing is when after it’s all said and done, Madison Olsen is interviewed by NBC, and she’s all, “LOL, WHATEVER, IT’S JUST COOL TO BE A PART OF THE OLYMPICS!” And then the monster interviewing her is like, “OK, but what about your dead father? What do you think your dead father would think? Remember how your father is dead?” And poor Madison Olsen, who just moments ago was enjoying this entire experience and not thinking AT ALL about how her father passed away recently, her face crumples and she begins to cry and can barely eke out that she thinks he’d be proud of her, before running off. ARE YOU HAPPY WITH YOURSELVES, NBC? ARE YOU PROUD OF THIS MOMENT, YOU GARBAGE PEOPLE?

Next up: a package on Mr. Tonga, in which NBC was like, “Remember this guy? HOW COULD YOU FORGET HIM, AMIRITE?” Before explaining that he isn’t just in the Olympics as a stunt to wave a flag around half-naked in subzero temperatures, he also competed in Cross-Country Skiing. Remarkably, he took up the sport only a few months ago, practicing on rollerblades as Tonga doesn’t exactly have any ski resorts. In fact, he only tried skiing on snow for the first time LAST MONTH.

And this is the part in the movie where he somehow miraculously wins against competitors who were born with skis on their feet, or, alternatively, comes in dead last but learned valuable lessons along the way or something. Instead, he came in 114 out of 119, and stayed on the finish line to cheer on Number 119, a skier from Mexico, while giving an interview encouraging kids to stay in school or something. That’s it. He hung around the finish line for literally three minutes to cheer on the last skier, and now he’s an official NBC Olympic Hero.

Cue the inspiring music.

Next is the Women’s Freestyle Skiing Slopestyle qualifiers, a sport that is for those of whom who were bored by Aerial. “Just not enough rails and jumps for me in Aerial,” the imagined you might have said to yourself, “I need more opportunities to watch people fall on their faces.”

And even though I’ve seen this sport before, I’m still GOBSMACKED when the first skier, does a jump and lands skiing backwards. I’m all, “DO YOU THINK SHE MEANT TO DO THAT, BECAUSE IT’S VERY COOL AND SHE SHOULD GET EXTRA POINTS FOR THAT EVEN IF IT WAS A MISTAKE.”

But as it turns out, they all ski backwards and approach jumps backwards and land backwards, that’s just part of the sport and it’s very cool. If completely batshit insane.

Unfortunately, for our skiers, however, the course is proving difficult and no one can seem to make it past the damn rails without falling spectacularly. Did they pour warm water on the rails before the event began, so that during the competition they would be sticky and difficult? Because everyone is just plain falling on their asses on the part of the course that should be a no-brainer. THIS ISN’T THE HARD PART, YO. JUST WAIT UNTIL YOU SEE THE JUMPS THEY EXPECT YOU GUYS TO DO.

Still, I have great sympathy for the skiers, as I guarantee this would be me attempting to jump rails on skis:

It me.

But some skiers manage to make it to the jumps and do amazing twistys and flippies and turnies, including 17-year-old Maggie Voisin who manages to do the jumps, but on one of the landings does what the announcers call a “backseat,” meaning she sort of sat on her skis a little. “DO BETTER,” the blogger yelled at her TV from the couch where she picked off HEB brand peanuts japones from her T-shirt.

In the finals which aired later that night, a couple of Swiss skiers took the gold and silver with Great Britain in bronze (even though “Great Britain” here was born in Boston and lives in Utah so by all rights THAT’S OUR MEDAL, but whatever).

Before the Women’s Super-G, we are treated to a video package about Lindsey Vonn and her grandfather who taught her to ski on the ski hill he built himself in a cow pasture in the middle of Wisconsin using the skills he learned when working for the Army Corps of Engineers during the Korean War and, oh by the way, did we mention that Grandpa Don is DEAD NOW? ARE YOU CRYING? Did we tell you that making this video was the last time Lindsey Vonn saw Grandpa Don alive? YOU’RE CYRING NOW, RIGHT? But wait, because Lindsey Vonn also tweeted this last night (or 13 nights ago, I’m not even sure we are on the same timeline anymore):

OH, YOU’RE CRYING NOW, FOR SURE.

As to the Super-G, one of the things I neglected to mention about the event is that the skiers are not allowed to ski the track before the event, they are only allowed to “inspect it” once and receive notes about the course. This means that the early skiers are at an extreme disadvantage, and, in fact, in the men’s event the other night, the first two men crashed on one particularly difficult turn, but their sacrifice gave other skiers a chance to be like, “yo, watch out for that one turn.”

My point is, Lindsey Vonn is skier number 1 in this event, and she is completely screwed. And, in fact, she eventually ties for sixth, coming in only .48 seconds slower than the skier who won gold, Ester Ledecká of the Czech Republic. Which, considering that Vonn was skiing with a remarkable disadvantage, is pretty good! As my great-grandmother would passively aggressively say: “Honey, you don’t have a thing to be ashamed of.”

Then it turns out that because of a pre-Games interview in which Vonn said that she wasn’t representing Trump in the Games (because fuck that guy), she was representing America, a bunch of our fellow Americans Russian bots who don’t understand that we don’t live in a cult of personality, flooded Vonn’s Twitter timeline with dumpster garbage:

Leading Vonn to tweet:

Which is reason enough to support Vonn in her future events.

Finally, Men’s Figure Skating Free Skate. We don’t see most of the skaters, including Team USA’s Vincent Zhou, despite doing well enough to come in sixth both in this event and overall.

We begin with Team USA’s Once Great Hope: Nathan Chen, who had a CATASTROPHIC Short Program, leaving him in 17th place. 17th! That’s terrible! As Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir remind us, it’s possible for him to come back and medal, but it’s going to require errrrrrrrrrrrybody else to fuck up terribly.

And god dammit if Nathan Chen doesn’t come out and do the god damn routine of his god damn life, adding an extra quad in there to make it a 6 quad routine instead of a 5 quad routine just because he can. He is gorgeous and strong and powerful and I’m crying but to be fair, I might still be crying a little bit about Grandpa Don. But Jesus Fucking Christ, can this kid skate, as those of us who don’t pay attention to figure skating but once every four years is only now finding out.

And the judges give him ALL OF THE POINTS: an astounding 215.08, which to give everyone some perspective is a full 9 points higher than he’s ever scored and the fifth best score in this event EVER.

U!S!A! U!S!A!

But then they interview Chen and ask him why he looked like such a different skater in this program from last night’s disaster. He explains that because of the shitastrophe from the night before, he no longer had any pressure weighing him down. He’s proud of his performance in the Games and while he can’t say he’s happy, he has come to a Zen-like state of acceptance that he will not be bringing home a medal. UGH, KID, YOU’RE BREAKING MY HEART. BECAUSE YOU COULD HAVE BROUGHT HOME A MEDAL. HAD YOU SKATED LAST NIGHT LIKE YOU SKATED TONIGHT, YOU COULD HAVE BROUGHT HOME ALLLLLLLLLL THE MEDALS.

WHY? WHY DID YOU MESS UP SO BADLY LAST NIGHT?

WHHHYYYYYYYYYY

nathan chen cheer olympics.gif

And then there are a bunch of skaters who don’t count, like some kid from Uzbekistan and the South Korean who receives a warm response from the crowd, but then goes and falls all over the damn place. But who cares.

Adam Rippon comes back out and sasses all over the ice, giving a beautiful performance about a bird with a broken wing and he doesn’t fall once, sticking all of his hard jumps. That said, now that I’ve seen what Nathan Chen is capable of, it makes more sense why Rippon’s scores are so much lower, I totally get it now.

And that said, Rippon deserves extra super bonus points for the way he eyefucks the judges anytime he gets near their table.

Then the final skaters perform, including that one Olympic Athlete from Russia who falls all over the place; some Chinese skater who manages to make music from “Star Wars” —   which actually includes Darth Vader breathing noises —  boring somehow; and Patrick Chan, whose eyes remain much too close together, I am sad to report.

Next is Japanese skater Yuzuru Hanyu, the leader in this event, who has an almost cult-like following in Japan and who had an owie on his ankle this past summer. Somehow he managed to tough it out, and he gives a lovely, strong performance here, scoring 206.17, which is considerably less than Nathan Chen, but enough to win him the gold medal which he does because HE DIDN’T HAVE AN EMOTIONAL BREAKDOWN ON THE ICE LAST NIGHT. NATHAN.

The ice is immediately flooded with Winnie the Pooh stuffed animals from his cult followers, which begs the question: if you are a cult member, wouldn’t you stop to consider that maybe, MAYBE, he might just have all the Winnie the Pooh dolls he can stomach and that if you really wanted to stand out, throw, say, an Eeyore or Tigger? Piglet?

Something to chew on, Crazy Japanese Ladies.

TOO MUCH POOH.

The next skater is Javier Fernandez from Spain who decides to go Full Spain and skate to The Man from La Mancha. And he is quite good! So good, in fact, that he does not fall on any of his jumps, which is all that counts to my dumb eye. However, on one jump, Tara Lipinski laments that he made a “HUGE MISTAKE,” prompting my 13-year-old to comment on his following perfect jumps: “Another huge mistake,” “Just one mistake after another,” “I mean, did he even train?”

He wins the bronze and the Foolish gold for He Can Get It.

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Finally, the other Japanese skater Shoma Uno, who is fine, whatever, I mean, he’s no Nathan Chen, but he manages to eke out enough points to go home with the silver, so I guess he gets the last laugh.

And here’s the thing: I am genuinely not angry at Nathan Chen for his shitty performance in the Short Program. The kid was under tremendous pressure to be the best in the world, and he got into his own head. It happens. It’s just heartbreaking to know just how brilliant he is, just how close he came to blowing everyone out of the water, just how close he came to setting a new Olympic standard. It’s heartbreaking to know that despite his “everything is fine, I’m happy with my performance” routine, there’s no chance this won’t eat at him for the rest of his life. It’s heartbreaking to know how heartbroken he must be. I’m so proud of Nathan Chen — he was glorious in this Free Program, he was UNTOUCHABLE in this perfromance — but my heart, it breaks for him, too.

Alright, one more night before I hand his over to Bobby: more Apline Skiing, Short Track Skating, Skeleton, and oh Jesus, Ski Jumping. And there had better be some damn Mary Carrillo.

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