Sunday, February 26, 2006

Figure Skating at the Olympics 2006

If I had been asked prior to the 2006 Olympics who I hoped would win mens and ladies figure skating, I would have answered Emanuel Sandhu and Sasha Cohen.

I tend to think of skaters in terms of what they are doing for the progress of the sport. Evgeni Plushenko is a great skater and deserved to win, but I find him boring, boring, boring. If all men skated like him, I wouldn't watch figure skating. I felt the same way about Brian Boitano, Elvis Stojko, and Todd Eldridge.

I like most male skaters (really, I do). A big reason to see skating events live is to see the male skaters who don't score high enough to make the TV coverage. Guys with no big triples are often awesome skaters with beautiful choreography. The men's short program is the highlight of figure skating for me: they skate to the music and the good ones make every second count, with a minimum of hockey-pucking (simple stroking).

I like Irina Slutskaya a lot more than Plushenko, but Sasha Cohen has such stunning artistry that she's my favorite.

Or was. At the end of the ladies short program, Cohen was first, followed by Slutskaya and then Shizuka Arakawa. But I really didn't feel, based on their short program performances, that Cohen or Slutskaya deserved to win. For one thing, Cohen flutzed her triple lutz (she took off from an inside and not an outside edge), which means that she really did a much simpler triple flip. Also, her jumps were very, very small. Slutskaya repeated the Bielmann position over and over in place of interesting spirals or spins, and she looked a bit wobbly. What both Cohen and Slutskaya did in spades was sell their programs. There was too much sizzle and not enough steak.

So in the end I was glad that Arakawa won. She's an elegant skater with some exceptional moves (in the long program, her Ina Bauer and donut spin were perfection).

As for the men, I'm ever hopeful about Emanuel Sandhu. Who knows, the World Championships are just around the corner... I can hope. Meantime I've learned to check the outcome before I watch the coverage, so I don't get too crushed when my guy goes down in defeat. And I'll be very happy if a number of other men do well, including Matt Savoie, Johnny Weir, Jeff Buttle, Shawn Sawyer, and and and...


No comments: