Thursday, February 18, 2010

MTVP Vancouver 2010 Olympics Coverage: Day 5

Figure skating was again the highlight on Day 5 of the Vancouver 2010 Olympics. This time it was men’s figure skating, which happens to be my personal favorite of the figure skating events. It probably goes back to me being so damn excited when Timothy Goebel won the bronze medal in Salt Lake City back in 2002. It was the first time an American man had medaled in figure skating at the Olympics since Bryan Boitano. Goebel also had really fun music choices that season- “Danse Macabre” for the short program, “An American in Paris” for the long program (I kind of adore anything Gershwin), and “American Pie” for exhibition, if I remember correctly. Anyway, with three American men and a Canadian in medal contention, it was bound to be an exciting night.

The men’s figure skating was really the only event I found worth watching on Tuesday night. Luge, although I’m sure it’s a very difficult and challenging sport, is very repetitive to watch on television. The other sport NBC showcased was women’s snowboard cross. If it hadn’t been for being spoiled (again) by, I might have found the snowboard cross competition more compelling. All throughout these first few days of the Olympics, NBC has been hyping the fact that this would be the chance for redemption for Amercian Lindsey Jacobellis. In Torino, she fell while doing a celebratory trick near the end of the course and ended up with the silver medal instead of the gold. Unfortunately, this was one redemption story that wouldn’t materialize. Jacobellis fell in the semifinal and didn’t even qualify for the final. Showing some classic Olympic spirit, however, Jacobellis gave the B final 100% and won that race handily.

So, yeah, most of the night was (rightfully) devoted to men’s figure skating. As someone who generally only watches figure skating every four years during the Olympics, one of the things that pleasantly surprised me was the music choice for many of the short programs in the men’s competition. I was getting kind of lulled to sleep by the popular classical choices of the pairs competition. It was fun to see that, although vocalization in the music isn’t allowed, some of the men still chose rock music. It was a nice change of pace. The first competitor I really noticed for his music choice was Canadian Vaughn Chipeur. His actual performance had its fair share of errors, but I enjoyed the upbeat energy. I also realized that a little music from the band Explosions in the Sky would make for a great figure skating routine.

Due to only recently coming out of retirement, Torino gold medalist Yevgeny Plushenko skated fairly early in the evening. To say I am not much of a fan of Plushenko would be an understatement. I find him to be arrogant and his performances to be uninspired. Sure he can jump like no one else, but there’s nothing to enjoy about the rest of his short program. His footwork all looks frantic with forced hand motions. The thing that irked me the most was that absolutely nothing was in time with the music. It was like the music was just there for background noise and not informing the performance at all. Unfortunately, Plushenko’s program was judged highly enough to put him in first place. Fortunately, he’s got two other top contenders right on his heels.

My favorite performance of the night was that of American Johnny Weir. What’s fun about Johnny is that he makes no allusions about what he is and what he isn’t. What you see is what you get. He wears outrageous costumes and has fun with it. He performed his short program, entitled “I Love You, I Hate You” cleanly, but just as importantly to me at least, he performed it with artistry and emotion. Unlike Plushenko, Johnny’s moves actually went with the music. His score for the performance didn’t put him in the very top tier of skaters, but it hasn’t left him out of medal contention, either. I’m really looking forward to seeing what he can bring to the free skate tonight. No matter what he does, he certainly always puts his own stamp on it. You aren’t going to see other skaters wear a pink tassel on the shoulder of his costume (an odd look which somehow works for Weir) or end their routine by blowing a kiss to the audience. When Weir takes the ice, it’s going to be fun.

It was also a night for a very strong showing by three Japanese skaters. Most notable was Daisuke Takahashi, who is currently in third place, only 0.6 points behind Plushenko and 0.05 points behind American Evan Lysacek. Takahashi’s program was a refreshing mix of strong jumps and artistry. Since Johnny Weir appears to be out of contention for gold (although not out of contention for a medal altogether), I think I wouldn’t mind seeing Takahashi win the gold. He is most definitely extremely talented.

You may be wondering why I’d be rooting for Takahashi, considering American Evan Lysacek is most definitely in contention. To be honest, his horribly orange spray tan and overly gelled hair irritate me. One positive I will give Lysacek, however, is that his short program was somewhat more artistic than Plushenko’s. He did at least seem to make an effort to move with the music. So there’s that.

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