Qualifiers, K-Poppers and Nary A Medal In Sight

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Each Olympics, Therese and I have a friendly competition over who gets stuck recapping the “most boring night of the Olympics.” After last night, folks, I think I have this one in the bag.

I sat through three hours — THREE HOURS — of a five-hour broadcast (FIVE HOURS!!!) watching women’s big air qualifiers and then some skiing training runs. TRAINING RUNS. I am here for medals. I am here for drama, I am here for big, crying, triumphant scenes. I am. Not. Here. To watch sports. A training run isn’t an olympic event; it’s just fucking skiing.

How dare you, NBC. How dare you.

So, I’m sorry if I’m not, repeat, NOT, going to give blow-by-blow analysis of qualifying rounds and FUCKING TRAINING RUNS.

Because you know what? This is what it looks like to watch a ton of women’s big air qualifiers.

Over and over.

Lindsay Vonn and Mikaela Shiffrin doing a training run?

Only the first few two-man bobsled runs? Literally:

OK, ok. I admit it. Bobsledding is a bit more exciting (and not only because it features the sexiest, beefiest athletes). All the WHOOSHing around the track is thrilling to watch, and whoever is doing the commentary does so FULLY SCREAMING during each run, which I appreciate.

One of the German sledders tips his sled after hitting the finish line, using his actual head as a brake. He still managed to pilot his sled into the top spot during that run, their second of four.

Unfortunately, we don’t see the last runs, which seemed to be very exciting. The Canadian team and a German team (not the one that went over the finish line on their faces) actually TIED for gold. They had the exact time, down to the one-hundredth of a second! That sounds exciting! Boy, would I have rather watched that than three hours of women’s big air qualifiers or Lindsay Vonn’s FUCKING training run.

Besides the women’s big air qualifiers, which we aren’t discussing because they don’t matter and truly nothing of note happened, the main event was ice dancing.

Excuse me, I’m sorry, what? This is just the ice dancing short program, and we won’t know who really wins until after the free skate?

Cool cool cool.

Although ice dancing falls squarely in my sparkly, dramatic wheelhouse, I finished the evening a bit disappointed. The short program has a strict thematic restriction: all skaters need to skate to “Latin rhythms.” This results in a lot of flamenco shirts and cha-cha skirts, and at least one part of everyone’s music sounds like Pitbull is about to make a guest appearance. Dalé!

Far and away, this was Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir’s night. Skating to a mix of The Rolling Stones, The Eagles and Santana (this one’s for you, everybody’s Dad!), they broke their own world record with an amazing score of 83.67. It was a beautiful skate.

The Canadian pair everyone’s been talking about, Papadakis and Cizeron, skate to, ugh, Ed Sheerhan, but her costume is coming a little undone. Despite the dangling, sparkly strap flapping precariously off her shoulder, the team earns a strong 81.93. They are still a threat to Virtue and Moir’s gold going into free skate.

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The Americans all turn in solid performances, including the Shibutani siblings; Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donahue; as well as Evan Bates and Madison Chock (whose bird of paradise-esque dress earns a “Glory be!” from Johnny Weir).

Just as I’m barely dragging ass across the finish line of this FIVE-HOUR BROADCAST, Johnny Weir comes out in full Caesar Flickerman regalia along with Tara Lipinski to give us the kind of package Mary Carillo pioneered: An in-depth investigation of K-Pop!

Glory be, indeed!

They’re hanging out with K-Pop superstar Eric Nam, an Atlanta-born Korean American who got invited to compete in the best-named American Idol rip-off, “Birth of a Great Star,” after being discovered from a YouTube video. He won fifth place, but his caeer took off after that, earning him the title of 2016’s Man of the Year (!) from GQ Korea and listed among the 30 under 30 Asia in 2017 by Forbes.

I mean, I could watch Johnny and Tara have a Grey’s Anatomy-style dance party for a full five-hour broadcast, but my favorite part was when they translated lyrics. Eric writes his songs in English, but then they’re translated into Korean with priority given to matching the melody over the meanings.

So, Erics’ lyrics:
“I wish I had no shame
I wish I felt no ways
I wish I could do what I want and feel no pain”

“When you are falling asleep
Why does my heart flutter so much
When friends call me to come out
I can’t wait to go out with them”

Thank you for that, Johnny and Tara!

So at least the night wasn’t a whole waste. Tonight, we get some goddamn medals, finally, with the conclusion of ice dancing and freestyle skiing in the halfpipe.

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