Each of us now knows how to score all of the technical requirements required in the sport. Before judging any skater, we all account for short program scores in addition to tallying the long program of each pair. Technical merit and presentation in figure skating are concepts that come second nature to us. Yeah, right.
Actually, here‘s the truth: we may not be sure of the difference between a triple axle and a double toe loop but we know what we like. We love cute, English-speaking athletes and we hate those dirty, cheating Ruskies.
Come on, it‘s only a sport, guys. The Cold War is over. The Canadians probably did win the pairs skating competition. But as an infrequent observer of figure skating (once every four years), I‘m not sure. The point is that this competition was fairly close and the scoring is a complex process spread out over two days. In addition, the highest and lowest scores are thrown out for the express purpose of avoiding any unreasonable judging.
Actually, the results of this event were not as disgraceful as some others in our recent Olympian past. Take the 1972 summer games, for example. Part of the reason for U.S. ecstasy over beating the Soviets in hockey in 1980 comes from the unbelievable ending of the 1972 goal medal basketball game, won by the Soviets over the U.S. team. After that game was fixed by Eastern Bloc refs, some of us were incensed enough to consider launching the missiles to finally begin World War III. Understandably, the U.S. basketball team refused to accept their silver medals.
You may remember the mysterious scoring that went against the American boxers in the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, Korea. It got so bad that after each event involving a U.S. fighter, we assumed no American would be judged victorious regardless of the whipping he may have just inflicted on his opponent. Many of these bouts were not even close, yet apparent losers became gold medal winners.
In recent years, though, the blatant rigging of decisions has been drastically reduced in the Olympics. Judging and refereeing have improved dramatically in international sports over the last decade. This latest episode in figure skating will serve to improve the judging in this sport, too.
Other observations of these Olympics
I have concluded that curlers (those who participate in the sport of curling) are the truly heroic warriors in these Olympic games. Can you imagine the training that must be required to be able to sweep the ice with such sustained vigor? The houses of elite curlers must be spic and span if they perfect their stroke with a broom while at home.
USA! USA! USA! U... stop it, I can‘t take it anymore. Am I the only one turned off by our arrogant screams of “USA“ when our athletes are performing? Don‘t get me wrong, I can feel patriotic and be moved as much as the next person when our guys do well. Somehow, though, it just seems undignified to rub salt into the wounds of our opponents since we are the host team and the richest country in the world. What does it say about us as we chant the USA mantra in the ears of the world while beating up on tiny nations such as the Netherlands or Estonia. I‘m embarrassed.
Bob Costas is the best TV anchorperson in the history of sport - by far. His analysis of events is always compelling, his wit - quick and ironic, and his knowledge of sports past and present - unparalleled. He is the only person who is part of the Olympic drama that would be fun to talk to for an afternoon.