Two nights this week, I was bored. With nothing to do, and desperate for entertainment, I watched the Winter Olympics. More specifically, I watched women's figure skating. Even more specifically, the short program and then later, the long program.
This marked a first for me, or at least, a first since the 1994 Olympics (Kerrigan/Harding) when figure skating got higher ratings than the Super Bowl. Its true, you could look it up. But that was more national soap opera than sport. This was the first time I'd ever watched a legitimate figure skating competition of any kind. And the first time I'd seen people dancing on skates since "Sesame Street on Ice" at Vets Auditorium in Des Moines when I was about 4 years old.
I'm one of those guys who will only watch NASCAR for the crashes. I don't particularly like watching guys drive in a circle for 3 hours. I do like watching them smash into things at 190 MPH. This is probably why I always run my cart over the barricades in Go-Karts, because like the street baller who knows how to throw down from watching SportsCenter but can't hit a 5-foot jumper because no one watches highlights of jump shots, I only see crashes and thus emulate that.
So why couldn't I watch figure skating purely for the falls? I could, I thought, because crashing to the ice in those outfits has GOT to be painful and thus fun to watch. This makes for great TV, I thought. But after a while, you remember you're WATCHING FIGURE SKATING. And then you change the channel and take a solumn oath to never tell a soul of your transgression. UnfortuCliffly, somewhere along the way that last part of the thought process didn't get to me in time and I watched two nights of it.
Now, one of the things I don't like about figure skating is a paucity of shady-looking dudes in the audience. Where shady-looking guys are, good times follow. Or at least, things other guys won't be embarrassed to admit watching will happen.
You know these guys. Like the kid who looks a few grades older that your half-nutso older brother won't even hang with. The sort of fellow who earned his psychotic persona simply by growing his hair out really long, smoking in places you weren't supposed to like in front of Great Clips at the mall, and by loitering outside the teacher's entrance to the school in ripped up jeans and a black leather jacket kicking dust into the wind like that one Kansas song, while his buds stood around in awe because dropping out is the coolest, only they didn't realize that Kansas song was not about standing outside the teacher's entrance kicking up dust, but about death, which is decidedly uncool.
Those guys. I don't want to sit by those guys at a sporting event, mind you -- I want them two sections away, where they can't harm me -- but its nice to know they're there. It validates the event, in a sense. Proves its cooler than the ballet, I suppose.
So do you think those guys watch figure skating? No chance. And this is why I've never watched it until one night when I was bored, Tuesday, February 21, 2006. This is defensible.
But watching again two nights later, because I had watched the first half and now wanted to see how it ends? Come on now, in my defense, you can't watch the first half of a movie, or a TV show, or a sporting event, or Shakespeare On The Green's Performance of Henry VIII, and then not watch the second act. But I did not DVR it. I watched it on 8-hour tape delay, plausibly live on the networks of NBC.
I actually had this thought last night: the figure skater dudes always wear these frilly, lacey sparkelly costumes. I should have been a figure skater and skated in military fatigues, and been the first Xtreme Sk8r. Lots of macho dancing and stuff. Like The Swayze only on ice.
I then drank a fifth of Drano for having that thought.
Why do figure skaters noses always run? Specifically, why do they all blow their nose on national TV right before taking the ice? They all do it. Is it because the ice is cold? Hockey players do not have this problem.
One after another, a skater would emerge from the waiting area, her coach would grab a box of Kleenex, and the skater would blow her nose. Often times placing the resulting wadded up cloth o'germs on the ledge for someone to have to throw away later. This led to me thinking, what if they miss? What if they blow their nose and its a really extradinarily powerful campaign, and something lands outside the kleenex?
This question was answered about 45 minutes later, when a Russian skater blew her nose and then turned to her coach and made a series of hand gestures around her chin area, wiping it. I don't speak Russian, but I presume she was asking if there was any residue.
Hilarious. And of course NBC's cameras were zoomed in tight on her face at that moment, and in High-Definition no less. And even when it became painfully apparent what was transpiring, they did not cut away. This was not live. This was plausibly live, tape delayed and prepackaged like those little oddly-shaped chicken nuggets you get at the grocery store meat case. They had 8 hours to think about cutting to another camera and sparing this poor lady.
Apparently, people who watch figure skating enjoy that sort of thing.
Anyway, for the record, all three Americans wiped out and crashed, leaving the Russian skater who went last a chance for the Gold. I started cheering against her like she was Ivan Drago in Rocky IV, even though the CCCP has been gone for almost 20 years and Drago was really a genetically-engineered male boxer and not an au natural female figure skater and what not. And probably because of my "Rocky! Rocky!" chants, she too wiped out, and the Japanese skater won.
"Why is that guy 2000 miles away and eight hours in the future chanting 'Rocky! Rocky!' Oh, poodles, I wiped out."
Whatever. Johnny Montecristofusco wasn't there in his black leather jacket and ripped jeans, ignoring the "No Smoking" rule and misinterpreting Kansas, so I shouldn't have been watching anyway.
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