Favorite Olympic Moments

February 8, 2010


The time has come to once again catch Olympic Fever. Symptoms include: watching far too much television, envying all that youthful agility and quickness while slumped on your couch gobbling potato chips, and an embarrassing breakout of Nationalism. (After all, it’s only natural to root for your own country.) Fortunately, this affliction comes around only once every four years, and it’s okay to admit to enjoying it.

If you’re anything like me, Olympic Fever will take over your life and you’ll be able to think of little else. Of course, I’ll happily watch all the sports, especially snowboarding, hockey and speedskating, and I’ll marvel at the unique talents of these athletes. But figure skating is and will always be The Main Event. I’ve been thinking in the last few days about my favorite, or at least most memorable, Olympic viewing moments.

The first Olympics I remember watching was the 1980 Games in Lake Placid. As I recently wrote in a piece for Professional Skater Magazine, I distinctly remember watching Tai and Randy pull out of the competition. My brother and I had just started to take group lessons near our hometown in Wisconsin. I didn’t know much about the sport or anything about this pair team, but I was entranced and a little stumped. I watched as Randy did circles on the warm-up and shook out his leg: if he can still glide around like that, then why doesn’t he just compete? I had so much to learn about injuries…and learn I did.

I remember watching Kitty and Peter Carruthers capture the silver at Sarajevo in 1984. They did a crazy thing called a Hydrant where he tossed her up in the air and caught her on the other side as if she was leapfrogging over him. My brother and I were by this time competing in pair and dance at the Novice level so the fact that there was a brother/sister team at the top certainly resonated. Double click on the arrow to play video…

Torvill and Dean’s Bolero Freedance that year also left an impression – I’d never seen anything like it and I guess no one else had either. Double click on the arrow to play video…

Torvill and Dean paved the way for our eventual faves, the Duchesnays. Isabelle and Paul Duchesnay were another brother and sister duo – they competed in 1988 (8th) and 1992 (silver medal). Double click on the arrow to play video…

By the time we watched Natalie and Wayne Seybold compete in Calgary in 1988, we were training alongside them in Delaware. I was injured at the time with a sprained knee from doing Throw Double Axels. Although by this time I could do that Carruther Hydrant with some confidence, I hated Throws and made sure to say so on a regular basis. “I hate Throws,” was like a mantra, but the negative kind, and sure enough Throws retaliated. Conversely, I always admired Natalie’s tenacity and her ability to not just rotate Throws, but land them. Her position was so tight in the air – she looked like a spinning pencil — try as I did, I just couldn’t seem to emulate her. Double click on the arrow to play video…

The Seybolds were kind enough to bring back a poster for us signed by the legendary Gordeeva and Grinkov, which I still prize to this day. Their long program that year was mesmerizing, their unison incredible. The flowers on her dress and the nuanced way that she moved her head made me realize that pair skating could actually be elegant. When tiny Ekaterina Gordeeva looked into the camera and shyly said, “Hello everybody,” in her stilted English, I did a little math: she was exactly one year older than me and approximately half my size! Double click on the arrow to play video…

In fact, every event at this Olympics was exciting: remember the Battle of the Carmens? My heart sank for Debi Thomas, but I remember that she was very cool and composed in the Kiss and Cry interview. She said, “I’m not going to make any excuses.” Double click on the arrow to play video…

And who could forget the Battle of the Brians? Double click on the arrow to play video…

Of course, many great (and not so great) things happened in figure skating in the ensuing years. I watched the Olympics, but maybe because I was focused on things other than skating at the time, the “moments” didn’t really stick. Of course, there was the Nancy-Tanya debacle and Nancy’s hard-won bronze in Albertville. Kristi landed on top. After that, Tiny Tara trumped Kwan in Nagano.

The next moment I’ll never forget was watching Sarah Hughes win in 2002, Salt Lake City. That was, to me, an amazing Olympic moment…the kind that dreams are made of. Hughes was at the right place at the right time, stars aligned, and she skated well, proving that it’s what you put out there on the day of the competition that matters. This is what makes skating exciting (and also sometimes devastating). Double click on the arrow to play video…

I found Sale and Pelletier’s long program that year to be equally inspiring. Of course, the judging scandal revealed afterwards was less so. Double click on the arrow to play video…

What memories will be made on ice this year? We shall soon know. I’ll be watching closely, rooting for Team USA, and I presume you will be, too.

Here is the NBC broadcast schedule (and there will be a lot of preview/recap coverage on the Universal Sports station):

Pairs Short: Sun Feb 14, 7-11 pm

Pairs Freeskate: Mon Feb 15, 8-midnight

Men’s Short: Tues Feb 16, 8-midnight

Men’s Freeskate: Thurs Feb 18, 8-midnight

Dance Compulsories: Fri Feb 19, 8-11:30 pm

Original Dance: Sun Feb 21, 7-11 pm

Free Dance: Mon Feb 22, 8-midnight

Ladies Short: Tues Feb 23, 8-midnight

Ladies Freeskate: Thurs Feb 25, 8-midnight

***

Thanks for reading/watching! What are your favorite moments from years gone by? I’m sure you have very different ones from mine. Please leave a comment below.

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6 Responses to “Favorite Olympic Moments”

  1. Paulie Says:

    Yes, that G and G performance was awesome.

    Last Olympics, I remember that a lot of the ice dancers had crazy falls.

  2. ice man Says:

    Thanks for sharing all these.

    Here is my favorite moment: Scott Hamilton, 1984

  3. Ann-Marie Says:

    I almost cried watching Gordeeva and Grinkov again! They are absolutely amazing! The 1988 Olympics was the best, but then of course we were in the thick of it! Fun times!

  4. Martina Says:

    WOW, The links were so cool. Sarah Hughes’s program was amazing and her dress is one of the most beautiful in figure skating history. Love, love it!! I also remember loving Oxana’s program to the ever popular music of Swan Lake. It was quite stunning, outfit and all.

    Great Olympic piece:-)

  5. NBC Says:

    NBC estimates they will lose $200M. Let’s hope this will not be the last televised Olympics. Any chance Sasha Cohen could be a last minute entry representing Egypt or Cuba so we could get the ratings up?

  6. Vlad Says:

    Thank you so much for posting so memorable videos!

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