Thursday, November 4, 2010

Vancouver Olympic Experience

Hubby and I were lucky enough to get quite a lot of Olympic tickets in the public ballot.. but this was far and away the most exciting event we attended.. The free dance of the Olympic Ice dance competition.
I wanted to try and convey just how exciting it was.. here goes

So... on Monday evening February 22nd 2010.. I had one of THE most fantastic evenings of my life... and I got to share it with my lovely hubby.
I never got to see Torvill and Dean compete.. I was a bit young really to do the kind of travelling required or to afford it for that matter.

Do I really need to tell you who this is ??
 But on Monday Jan 22nd I watched the best ice dancers since T and D skate to the Gold Medal at the Winter Olympics.
We had THE most amazing seats just 14 rows from the ice, at the same end as the 'kiss and cry'.... the atmosphere was as charged as a Mountie's taser... and the judging panel was NOT skewed to favour the Russians... it was the perfect storm.
There was a very young British couple in the first group. They pulled a season's best and managed to jump 2 or 3 places up the order, which was a lovely start.
Bill and I got chatting to two Canadian ladies sitting next to us and we spent the next couple of hours laughing at some frankly ludicrous costumes, discussing the 'to Quad or not to Quad' debate [NOT!! we all decided] and trying to decide whether blacking your face, wearing a red loin cloth for a costume, and claiming that your Original Dance was designed to be an homage to Aboriginal culture was; crass.. tasteless.. or just plain stupid. [We decided it was all three.. in case you're wondering]
But really we were just waiting for 'The Main Event'.
Sinead and John Kerr skated.. superbly I might add.. to a track by Linkin' Park.

Sinead & John Kerr

God it was a refreshing change from all the classical "music to slash your wrists to" we'd had to put up with upto that point, and when SHE lifted HIM off the ground at the programme's climax.. the audience went WILD...
The stage was set..
At 9.17pm, two kids from London Ontario skated out onto the ice.. and for 4 mins and 5 seconds I don't think I took a breath.
Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir began ice dancing together when she was 7 and he was 9. Even now they're only 20 and 22.
They were World Junior champs in 2006 and in 2008 [only their second Senior World Championships] the exquisite 'Umbrellas of Cherbourg' won them the silver medal... utterly unprecedented in the "deadman's shoes" world of ice dance.

Original Dance TANGO !!
 But later that year Tessa Virtue was told she had to have surgery on BOTH her legs or give up skating forever.. of course she took the surgery.. but they lost almost a YEAR of training.
What they have achieved in the year since that huge set back is quite remarkable.. and utterly beautiful...
But what's really gratifying is that they didn't win because it was Vancouver and they had home ice advantage or because their competition under performed.. because they DIDN'T..
They won because they skated the best Original Dance/Free Dance combination since The Paso-Doble and Bolero.. two routines first performed before these two were even born.
They are NOT the same as Torvill and Dean... Ice Dance has changed too much.
The rules, the scoring system, the required elements.. there are so many more lifts and spins, most of their skating they do on one leg and then there are the dreaded twizzels of course..
But what's really captivaing about Virtue and Moir is that JUST like T and D.. they actually DANCE !! with each other.

Final spin

Not for these two a whilrwind of flailing arms, legs and extraneous fabric.
Not for these two a mish mash of angst ridden fumbling about, to a dour piece of classical music, with a volcanic death drop at the end.
They haven't had to follow the pack and do the same old same old, because JUST like T and D they simply aren't like other people..
They have stardust sprinkled on them.. and on Monday night at 9.17 they sprinkled a little of that stardust on me.
I knew I was excited.. and tense.. [Davis and White had set a seasons best and were in the lead...] but I hadn't realised how emotional I was..
Just before they were about to skate, whilst the previous couple [the Italians] were waiting for their marks, Virtue and Moir were out on the ice just waiting their turn and skating round which they do separately incidentally.
While Tessa Virtue went off to the side to blow her nose and have a gulp of water, Scott Moir skated.. well floated really from one end of the rink to the other. As he did so he stretched out his arms, tilted back his head and closed his eyes..
It was as if he was drinking the electricity into his body.. this boy wanted to win so bad he could taste it... and so could we... and the realisation of how important this was to him brought tears to my eyes..
I remember thinking..'Oh God don't cry you silly won't be able to see them skating'. So I had a big ugly sniff and wiped my eyes.
The cacophony suddenly died away and when the music started you could have heard a pin drop.. and a Nation.. me included.. held its breath.
I won't even try to describe how they skated.. I couldn't even begin to do it justice, besides.. you'll be able to watch it on You Tube soon anyway..

The Goose

But I will say... that the lift they themselves call 'The Goose"...  where she balances on one leg on his back and then spins off into his arms brought the crowd to its feet...  and that when they finished their twizzels the room erupted in a collective sigh of relief because they knew it was done...
This must have been what it felt like to see Sale and Pelletier in Salt Lake City.. more Stardust.
But memories of that day and the judging scandal that followed weren't far away.. it was a very long moment, waiting for the marks to appear.

I hear the Russians have said the North Americans don't actually dance.. and I say..
"Who the fuck died and made you Grace Kelly" ??
Christopher Dean defined Ice Dance 30 years ago... and no Russian alive or dead has done anything even remotely innovative since.. you've all been skating variations on a theme of Bolero for 26 years.. get over yourselves, and move on...
It's a new world. !!

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