Lutzes and Axels

I have to confess something. Yes, it’s true. I love figure skating. I’m completely hooked. It wasn’t always this way. 1992, the Winter Olympics in Albertville, I didn’t give a rat’s ass even as a local girl named Kristi Yamaguchi won gold. When Tanya Harding had her thugs play whack-a-mole on Nancy Kerrigan’s knee, I […]

I have to confess something.

Yes, it’s true. I love figure skating.

I’m completely hooked.

It wasn’t always this way. 1992, the Winter Olympics in Albertville, I didn’t give a rat’s ass even as a local girl named Kristi Yamaguchi won gold.

When Tanya Harding had her thugs play whack-a-mole on Nancy Kerrigan’s knee, I only cared because Kerrigan was so annoying (“Why? Why? Why?“) in the clips.

But then, early in 1994, I got caught up. I was up all night with a brand new Olivia, and I was watching Olympic events live, or weirdly tape delayed, or something, from Lillehammer Norway. I watched the opening ceremonies and was taken with the beauty of the location. Plus, you know, there was nothing else on. I watched everything. Biathlon. Curling. All of it.

And of course, with the Kerrigan/Harding drama, I watched the figure skating.


Now, I’ve always had a fundamental issue with any judged event in the olympics. Swimming, sure. It’s a race. Weight lighting. Sure. It’s about who lifts most. But diving? Damn, why is this better than that? Didn’t look better to me. And I still have that issue; look at the Salt Lake City pairs skating fiasco where two golds got awarded.

So I was very inclined to dismiss skating. Music. Judging. Silly costumes. This ain’t sport boy-o, this is dancin’ prancin’ nonsense.

And yet.

I watched the short programs from Lillehammer, and skater by skater, I got caught up. Watching Brian Boitano and Kurt Browning try to make a comeback. Kerrigan and Harding. Oksana Baiul, tiny skating pixie.

I got caught up. Not in the drama, but in the sport itself.

I liked it. Dammit. I loved watching Philippe Candeloro win the bronze. Loved rooting against the annoying Elvis Stojko, a disgrace to my name. Loved yelling at the judges who gave Baiul and Kerrigan more credit than they deserved, and ignored Surya Bonaly.

I was hooked.

Ok, so it’s also sexy. Katarina Witt? Fucking woof. You get those little costumes on and then jump around? Wedgie-city. I used that as an excuse at first.

But the more I watched it, the more I started to care about the sport. The more I started to understand it. I hit a point where I knew a Lutz from an Axel and I suddenly realized, yes, I was into figure skating.

I keep thinking I’m over it. But then I see one of those performances. Michelle Kwan. Kurt Browning. Evgeny Plushenko. Sale and Pelletier. Those skaters who make the leap between art and sport and make it effortless, elegant.

I kept missing the events. And then a couple years ago I got TiVo, and set it to tape skating. And I realized how many events I’d been missing.

I always forget about it. I wait for football season. I wait for hockey season. Figure skating sneaks up on me and I’m surprised when the TiVo suddenly has six events. And then the seasons ends after the Worlds and I’m bummed

We’re almost there now. The US nationals are over. The World are up next month. And the season’s over after that, we get nothing but stupid ice wars. But next year is an olympics; I care about the winter games like I’m never able to care about the summer. I like all the events. But the main this is , it’s the one time figure skating really gets attention. When I can talk skating with people other than the pure skating geeks.

Nope. I never thought I’d admit to it. Never.

But I’ll say it. I’m hooked.

0 thoughts on “Lutzes and Axels”

  1. When I was a kid, my father was really into figure skating. Not watching it, but doing it. I even took lessons for a while. But it wasn’t all that much fun to do. As you note, it’s a judged sport. It’s not as simple as a race. So I never liked it much. But on the other hand, those girls are hot, so I like watching it on that level. And their costumes have gotten much better over the years.

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