Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Dramas and Scandals...!

When I was a little girl, all I wanted to be was a figure skater. I remember my first pair of ice skates, when I was eight years old, and they were the most wonderful gift I had ever received. I felt as if they had opened a door for me to a magical world. I expected to lace up my skates and fly across the ice just like the figure skaters I had watched on TV. To my shock, I spent most of my first day week month holding on to the sideboards at the skating rink, nursing bruised knees and elbows. This skating business wasn't going to be as easy as I had thought. Eventually I got the hang of it, though, and it became almost an obsession. I skated every opportunity I could get. My parents signed me up for figure skating lessons, but it turned out I really wasn't going to be Olympic material, so I skated just for fun. However, I continued to follow the figure skaters at the Olympics and the most amazing performance I ever saw at an Olympic skating championship was Peggy Fleming in 1968 in Grenoble, France. You could actually hear the whole world collectively holding its breath, and when she was finished she won a standing ovation. I may be wrong, but I don't think that had ever happened until then. Her performance was beautiful.

Figure skating is an interesting sport, filled with scandal -- for some stange reason. In 1994 Tonya Harding was banned from figure skating for life for allegedly being involved in a plot to debilitate Nancy Kerrigan. And then -- out of nowhere -- Oksana Baiul, the 16 year-old from the Ukraine, swept onto the ice like a little pink, fluffy bird, and stole the gold medal from everyone. Following that, in 2002 the Russian skaters Anton Sikharulidze and Elena Berezhnaya were awarded the gold medal because the French judge Marie Reine Le Gougne made a deal with the Russians, trading votes for the French team. The Canadians David Pelletier and Jamie Salé had been the clear winners, skating a nearly perfect performance. Later, the Canadians were awarded a gold medal in a special ceremony, and the system of judging for figure skating has been changed. Who knew such a clean-cut sport could be fraught with such deception and intrigue?

Next month the 2010 Winter Olympics will be held here in Vancouver, and I suppose once again there will be some sort of drama, but I'll have to watch it from my living room. Getting tickets to any Olympic event was almost impossible. But it will be exciting to know that whatever is going on, it is happening just minutes from my house. And maybe there will be an unexpected upset, and people will say, "Remember in Vancouver when....?"

If you're fortunate enough to be attending any of the Olympic events, my friends, have fun...!



Kathryn said...

I think figure skating is breathtakingly beautiful. But i don't follow a lot of the ins & outs of who is doing what. The Tanya Harding thing seemed to be in the news much like Tiger Woods, for a while, so i couldn't escape that.

Have a lovely week, Jo. :)

Country Girl said...

Peggy Fleming was my hero when I was a young girl! I remember the first time I ever skated. I was in high school and went to a skating rink in Atlantic City and loved it. I actually skated pretty well! Good post, my friend. Looking forward to the Olympics. The figure skating is one of my favorite events.

Kathy's Klothesline said...

I envy you. You can ice skate. When we moved to Minnesota I considered learning how.......but I never learned to roller skate, so I doubt I would have been a good candidate. My grandson was 2 when we moved there and learned to skate when he was 4. Hockey was the next logical step and he was a natural. I absolutely loved watching him skate!

A human kind of human said...

Sweet memories! We had no ice rink nearby when I was a teenager but there was a rollerskating rink at the army base outside my home town and we spents many nights flying across the floor (all those goodlooking young soldiers willing to teach us young girls added to the pleasure of course - in fact I think they wanted to teach us much more than skating....). Only much later did I learn to skate on ice in Cape Town but unfortunately there were no soldiers to teach us, only sailors...

Canarybird said...

Yes I remember how much I wanted a pair of Barbara Ann Scott ice skates for Christmas when I was small. They did appear on Christmas morning but there was one that time there was no ice rink in town. I could only go skating when we went down to Nanaimo, so I never really ever learned and spent my few attempts sitting down on my bottom or hanging onto the edges as you did Jo.

But I love to watch any ice skating when it comes on TV, only I jump with pain when someone falls down, especially during a competition! It's a beautiful sport.

houndstooth said...

Watching the figure skating at the Olympics is always a highlight for me! It seemed like the closest you could get to being a fairy princess to me as a little girl. Plus, the excitement and just holding your breath, hoping they got it just perfect never left me. I'm looking forward to this year's Olympics, that's for sure!

Pauline said...

this brought back memories of ice skating at night on a small pond where we played crack-the-whip and I got to hold the hand of a neighborhood boy on whom I had a tremendous crush. I ended up face first in a snowbank but ah, it was worth it - guess who pulled me out!

Jo said...

Kathryn, for some reason figure skating has a lot of scandals. Very strange!

Kate, oh, yes, there has been no one since to equal Peggy Flemming. She was wonderful...!

Kathy, I used to roller skate too, so I thought ice skating would be similar, but it was actually quite different. At first it scared me, but I loved it. :-)

Anna, *heh* skating rinks always seem to have cute boys willing to help the girls, don't they? It's part of the fun.

Sharon, Port Alberni has a beautiful ice rink now, but we used to skate at the curling rink on the army base. Did you ever skate there? We loved it!

Houndstooth, oh yes, holding your breath, hoping they make all their jumps and don't fall. It's anyone's bet, isn't it? It's so beautiful to watch.

Pauline, crack the whip -- yes! What memories. I remember one boy -- years later he teased me that I let him lace up my skates, and then I refused to skate with him. I had forgotten that. :-)

Brenda said...

I love to watch figure skating also...and gymnastics. It will be nice to have something good to watch on the tube for a change.

Belizegial said...

Hi Josie,

I won't be attending any of next month's Winter Olympic events. So I will be checking in here to find out what dramas and scandals may have erupted on the ice.

I remember well the Tonya Harding scandal. It reached even those of us here in the tropics who at that time did not have a blog or internet.

Have a great weekend and stay warm.
It is cold in the tropics tonight.


Carol said...

Hi Jo,
I too used to go to a little local pond and skate and we also played "Crack the Whip", like Pauline. What fun and thanks for prompting my memory of that. I love watching the Olympics and next I like Gymnastics. Thanks for your email about Jim...have a good rest of the week end...

TC said...

Seems like you made everyone remember their ice skating days. I didn't get my skates till I was 14, my grandma had convinced my parents ice skates were a sure road to a drown child. Grandma was gone when I was 14 and I LOVED to skate on the pond. it was dangerous I guess but I threw BIG rocks on it and then jumped on the ice to make sure it was OK.
Sorry you didn't get to go to Olympics? Maybe you can sneak in? LOL

Kathryn said...

Don't feel bad - I don't have any tickets either. I'll be watching the games from the burbs. My poor daughter, who lives in Yalestown, will have to get through the road closures to her job in Coquitlam.
Canarybird - I spent many a clumsy hour at the Nanaimo arena while growing up. Had to rent skates as I didn't have my own. I once borrowed a friend's mom's skates - and they were "Barbara Ann Scott's"!

Nancy said...

I'm sorry you won't get to attend when it's so close! That doesn't seem right on so many levels..
I can't wait to see opening ceremonies in your beautiful city.

Jo said...

Brenda, yes! I love watching the gymnastics too. Gymnastics and skating are so graceful, aren't they?

Enid, believe it or not, but it's about 52 degrees Fahrenheit here today, which is not exactly a heat wave, but it's warmer than the rest of North America. *heh* Not too warm for the winter Olympics, I hope. :-)

Carol, I actually broke someone's wrist playing "Crack the Whip" once. But it was fun, hey?

TC, skating on outdoor ponds could be dangers, especially if the ice was melting, and there was three inches of water on top... :-) And yes, *heh* I have been thinking of sneaking into one of the Olympic events.

Kathryn, oh gosh, the road closures! I work close to City Hall. That should be interesting, to say the least. But it will be fun, hey?

Nancy, yes, I think the opening ceremonies will be quite spectacular. It will be interesting to see what people think of Vancouver.

A.M. said...

I love figure skating and I was so upset when Tanya maliciously attacked Nancy. Like you, I have followed figure skating all my life and I'll be watching it from my living room as well. Go Team Canada!!!

Jo said...

A.M., yes, and you won't have to worry about the commute. *heh* It's going to be a nightmare. :-)

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Peggy Fleming set the bar incredibly high. She truly was poetry in motion, and even seeing her perform on a TV screen was magical... I can only imagine how it felt to watch her in person.

Figure skating is one of my absolute favorite events, too, and how wonderful that I'll be able to see beautiful Vancouver in the background this time.

Jo said...

Susan, yes, Peggy Fleming was the most incredible skater ever. No one has taken her place.

It will be interesting to see how Vancouver is pictured to the rest of the world. :-)

Carla said...

I love figure skating. And Kurt Browning will always be my favorite.

Land of shimp said...

Figure skating changed a lot from Fleming to now, didn't it?

When she was skating it seemed to be as much about physical grace as it was about jumps, and athleticism. I think that's what the era of Kerrigan and Harding really was about, that transition. Harding being rather rough and tumble, Kerrigan being more artistic.

Oksana winning was just bizarre, more than anything. I swear she won more because she had an innocent exuberance about the sport. Watching it was impossible to believe she was really the better skater. She looked slightly awkward on the ice, and she's the only skater to whom I'd attach the word "ungainly". She had a tendency to double-foot jumps. She wasn't better technically, at least I don't think and lordy, do you remember how openly angry Kerrigan was on the podium?

Oksana had a raw delight in what she was doing. Kerrigan, whether she was penalized for being too closely associated with the open trashiness of Harding, or because she was simply too close to scandal, gave a technically better performance.

It's just an interesting footnote in all of that. Scandal tried to creep into ice skating, and brought it a much larger audience, but the top honors went to the almost child-like girl who was free of the stain of greedy goings on.

What I hope for Vancouver is that there is a great skater there, regardless of country someone with athletic grace, as well as prowess.

It would be fun, wouldn't it? But I do wonder if we haven't simply lost our collective innocence when it comes to the entire spectrum. The furor over Phelps proved we can still marvel as a world, but Phelps rather swiftly proved he's got feet of clay (and that's fine, who doesn't?).

I really don't care whose country wins the medals. I hope that, no matter the event, we can come together as a world and marvel as one.

Here's hoping :-) But for your sake, I hope Canada does kick some major sporting butt!

Jo said...

Carla, oh, yes, Kurt Browning. He's one of my favorites too. :-)

Alane, oh, gosh, yes, it was obvious that Oksana won because she was detached from all the nonsense, and she almost won by default. She was not the better skater. She really reminded me of a little pink fluffy bird who was just learning how to fly. Her costume was appalling, but it somehow suited her persona. She was just in "the right place at the right time".

Jennifer D said...

I agree with you Jo,
skating is wonderful. I am a terrible skater but I have fun.
I really only watch it during the Olympics but I try to catch all of it. The strength, beauty and drama is so entertaining.
You will be hosting some Olympians from my hometown of Mammoth Lakes, CA in the Skiing and Snowboarding events, I can't wait.
I will be thinking of you often as I watch I am sure. I am looking forward to the opening ceremony, I want a bigger taste of what Vancouver is all about.

Paula Slade said...

It so exciting that your city is hosting the Olympics! I'll be watching on the television too - wish I could see it in person!