Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Canada gets their golden moment

Ice dance is pretty again!!!

It’s been a very long time since ice dance was pretty. In fact – it’s been since Torvill and Dean in 1984 that ice dance was pretty.

If you haven’t watched Virtue and Moir’s free dance yet, stop whatever it is that you are doing and watch this video. I don’t care if you’re doing your taxes, filing your nails or filleting an ahi steak. Your life is not complete until you watch this performance.

And Davis and White were beautiful and incredible as well – but the night belonged to Virtue and Moir… and Canada. This is the gold medal moment this entire country has been waiting for. Watching Tessa and Scott up on the podium proudly (and loudly) singing their national anthem along with the entire coliseum – and country – got me all soppy and sappy.

It was amazing.

In fact – this whole Olympics (skating anyway) has been amazing. For the first time EVER, judges are doing the right thing. They’re judging on performance, not on national bias. This is a huge step forward for the sport of skating. I’m guessing some of it is attributed to the fact that the stodgy, always-judge-national judges are old and have started to kick the bucket, but I’d also like to think that maybe we’re all just becoming better people.

Ok, fine, the crooked ones are probably just dying off.

When I was at the olympic superstore the other night, I had an interesting conversation with the sales lady. She asked where I was from and when I told her, she said, “ohh, America, you guys are really sweeping up the medals.” And I started to talk about how what’s pressure for the Candian team has turned into a bonus for the American athletes – lots of fans, friendliness of crowds, etc. But she cut me off and said “well, yes, but in Canada, we don’t have the kind of support for our athletes that you do.” It took me a second to realize she was talking about money.

I had to laugh at the idea that all the American athletes have these corporate sponsorships and were able to just focus on training all the time. She was really convinced that’s why the American team was doing so well. So we had an interesting conversation about misconceptions.

I mean, sure, we have Shawn White who’s a multi-millionaire - but ONLY because he has a brilliant agent. (And also because he’s wildly popular in skateboarding as well – and kind of crazy talented so that helps.) But that’s not the norm at ALL. I would guess that the amount of debt that most of these athletes are in right now is astronomical.

Figure skaters get money from the USFSA, the national skating federation, but in comparison to what they have to spend on training, traveling, coaching, costumes, etc – that chunk of change is a drop in the bucket. If you look at Meryl Davis and Charlie White, my guess is that they spend upwards of 50k a year on their skating. Easy. And they don’t have any corporate sponsors – mom and dad are paying for that.

You have people like Jeremy Barrett (American pairs skater) who drives the zamboni and works in the snack shop at his rink for extra money. These kids are not rich from sport.

I think there should be some sort of debt relief program for the athletes – with all the money corporate sponsors make off these games, part of that profit should go back to the athletes who make it all happen.

Tonight the ladies short program gets underway. Joannie Rochette, the 6-time Canadian national champion is still planning on competing even though her mom passed away unexpectedly early Sunday morning. I have no idea how she's going to do it. I don't think there will be a dry eye in the house when she finishes skating. She's expected to be a contender for the podium but wow... if I ever lost my mom, grocery shopping would be impossible - much less skating in an Olympics a few days after (I don't think they've even had the funeral yet) ... I'm just hoping she can get to a good place in her head where she does it to honor her mom and has the skate of her life. I think this entire country will be holding their breath for her.

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