Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Olympic Fever

DEBORAH CROMBIE: Who's watching the Olympics? I can't believe it's already been four years since the last winter games! I've always been a bigger fan of the winter games than the summer--I might have fantasized about being an ice skater, but never a gymnast. And definitely not a runner or a swimmer.

I'm the original armchair athlete, uncoordinated and never any good at sports or games. On top of that, when I was fourteen I broke my pelvis and tore up my knee, so the few times I tried skating, and the one time I tried skiiing, were really painful. Not to mention that I fell down a lot...

But I could watch! I fell in love with figure skating in the 70s. I was obsessed with Dorothy Hamil--I even had a Dorothy Hamil haircut for a couple of years!


And then in the 80s there were Torvill and Dean. I still think their 1984 Olympic gold medal ice dance free skate to Bolero is swoon-worthy.


Admittedly, I had a huge crush on Chris Dean, because he was (duh) English, and so cute! They choreographed their own routine, too, which no ice dancers do these days, apparently.

I miss the days of the cute short haircuts on the female skaters. Now they all look alike with the "ballerina bun," but I suppose it's practical, and these things go in and out of fashion.

The U.S. skaters have been terrific at these games. There aren't enough superlatives to describe Nathan Chen, the winner of the gold medal in the men's event.


And Jason Brown is a gorgeous skater and a long-time favorite.

But the U.S. has competitive skaters in the other events, as well, with ice dancers Chock and Bates (LOVED their free skate to music from Daft Punk), and Hubbell and Donohue; plus pairs teams Knierem and Frazier. There's even a pair from Dallas--Ashley Cain-Gribble and Timothy LeDuc. Watching the pairs makes me really nervous--what they do is so dangerous.

Tonight, however, I'll be watching the women compete for the gold. (Notice I'm very carefully tiptoeing around that scandal...)

What about you, REDS and readers? Are you figure skating fans? Or will you be glued to monobob (I still haven't quite figured out what that is, but it was fun to watch.) Skiiing? Snowboarding? Hockey?

Or would you just rather curl up with a good book and a cuppa?



62 comments:

  1. I don't mind the skaters with long hair or buns [some are just lovely with clips and sparkles and such], but I am not a fan of pony tails bouncing around . . . .

    Both of our girls skated so I’m definitely a figure skating fan who’s watching . . . . Nathan Chen and Jason Brown were both amazing . . . kudos to the skaters who continue to do their best despite all the drama :(

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    1. How wonderful that your girls skated, Joan. And weren't the American ladies terrific last night? Alysa Liu is adorable!

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  2. Like you, Debs, I've always liked the winter Olympics better than the summer. I love to watch the skiers and the figure skating. Oh, and I should say the snowboarders these days, too. I even like the curling.

    My love of the figure skating started with Peggy Fleming who won gold in Grenoble, France in 1968. I was in the 8th grade and thought she was so beautiful and talented (and she was). Then, I was captivated over the years by the other gold medal winners--Dorothy Hamill (and that haircut was great and copied by so many), Kristi Yamaguchi, Tara Lipinski, and Sarah Hughes. Michelle Kwan was wonderful and earned a silver and a bronze. And, who can forget the drama with Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding. And, I loved the men's single winners Scott Hamilton and Brian Boitano (Boitano was a real dreamboat). Evan Lysacek got gold for the U.S. in 2010, but he didn't excite me too much. Now, Nathan Chen has grabbed the gold, and I did enjoy watching him. Meryl Davis and Charlie White ice dancing their way to a gold in 2014 was magical. I don't keep up with the skiers or snowboarders enough to know their names, except for Shaun White. Everybody knows Shaun White.

    All the athletes work so incredibly hard that I feel bad that they can't all win. The skating controversy over the fifteen-year-old Russian women's skating event is so frustrating. The other skaters are feeling so let down by the system that is supposed to keep the playing field level by disqualifying skaters who test positive for a banned substance. As Tara Lipinski said, they were watching a skate that never should have happened.

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    1. I don't really have memories of Peggy Fleming, except for seeing her in photos, but I know all the generations after. Hamilton and Boitano were terrific. And Brian Orsor, who's really made his name as a coach these days. Kristi Yamaguchi paved the way for today's Asian American skaters, and that is an interesting history. Nathan Chen was inspired by seeing Michelle Kwan skate.

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  3. I watch as much of the Olympics (summer and winter) as I can each time they are on. Working from home, I get to turn the games on with the sound down and leave them on, so I can check out a few highlights throughout the day, which I enjoy.

    I do like skating, but all the jumping they do on skis and snowboards are amazing to me as well. How do they twist and turn like that?

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    1. I love watching it all, Mark, and if I didn't have to write I'd have it on all the time, too.

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  4. We are glued to the Olympics! Weirdly my family also prefers the Winter Games even though we are Southern. Figure skating is our #1 sport. We have been to the US Championships 5 times and to Worlds the last time it was in the US ( Boston 2016). I've been watching Nathan skate since he was about 10, so incredibly proud of him and I adore Jason too. Don't get me started on the mess currently happening with the ladies event. I just hope our girls can have skates they are happy with, as well as quite a few ladies I like from other countries. The Ice dance competition was fabulous and we have a lot of depth in that discipline. It's unlikely that our pairs will medal so I hope they have skates they are proud of. Rooting for Sui/Han of China to win pairs. I love them and know it would mean so much to them to win at home.

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    1. How wonderful that you've been to all the competitions! I've only been to a couple of Ice Capades, but those were great fun, too. And I love that's you've watched Nathan grow into the skater--and lovely young man--he is today.

      I think the U.S. ladies did well last night. Crossing fingers for tonight, and especially for Kaori Sakamoto of Japan.

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  5. Living here in Bern with a Swiss husband who has been skiing since he was tiny and a son who snowboards, we watch the Winter Olympics very happily, especially all the alpine-style skiing events, where the Swiss have won gold medals. Since the only skiing I do is very slow, classic cross-country, I like having a look at the cross-country events now and then, just to marvel at the speed and stamina of the (mostly) Norwegian winners. Which reminds me: has anyone noticed that Norway (population 5.4 million, three million fewer people even than Switzerland) has won not only by far the most gold medals but also the most medals overall. No offense, dear, enormous USA, but it's fun to root for little countries!

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    1. I love rooting for the little countries, Kim! And now I'll pay more attention to the Swiss in the alpine events!

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  6. I haven't watched a single event, oddly, although I've always loved watching skating. Maybe tonight!

    How did they let that girl compete if she tested positive? I am gobsmacked.

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    1. Oh, yes, and the crazy things snowboarders and others do mid-air takes my breath away. It seems SO dangerous.

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    2. It is dangerous! But riveting to watch!

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  7. Like DEBS (and others), I do prefer watching the Winter Olympics more than the Summer Olympics.
    Canada usually does very well during the Winter games (no surprise).

    Yes, I USED TO LOVE watching figure skating. Torvill and Dean's magical performance of Bolero in 1984 is one for the ages. But I also remembering cheering for Canada's Virtue and Moir when they won gold in the same event (2010 and 2018), silver in 2014 and two team medals. They're the most decorated Olympic ice dancers in history. BUT ever since the Salt Lake judging scandal, I have not been riveted to the screen. I have not watched the women's single event at all. No skater will get her medal if the 15-year Russian skater makes it to the podium.

    But I am also enjoying newer events such as snowboard slopestyle and Big Air. How the men and women both do those acrobatic maneuvers is amazing!

    And GO CANADA GO in both men and women's hockey!

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    1. I'll add in my cheers here for hockey gold for Canada!

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    2. Grace, I loved Virtue and Moir! It was always a delight to watch them skate.

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  8. While I usually prefer the Summer Olympics over the Winter Olympics, I have always watched the games whenever they were held. Not every event but definitely enough to qualify myself as a regular viewer.

    And while the snowboarder winning his first medal at age 40 and the 6th straight gold medal game between the US and Canada might be good stories, unlike Deb, I don't feel the need to tiptoe around "the scandal".

    The IOC is as criminally corrupt as Russia and China. And so is the CAS for passing the buck AGAIN and letting the skater continue to compete after a positive drug test. The Russians aren't even supposed to be there since the country was banned for running a systematic doping program that would make the East Germans blush. Yet there are all those athletes, with a knowing wink and a nod from the mafiosos of the IOC, competing anyway.

    I've had enough. Until the Russians are banned for real and cheaters and their results are thrown out, I'm am officially done supporting the Olympics. In fact, the Olympics should be abolished outright. They hold World Championships in all of these sports, let those take the place of the Olympics officially because enough is enough.

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    1. I just didn't want to rant on JRWs time, Jay:-) I would agree with all of that, except I think it's unfair not to support all the athletes who have worked so hard from countries that AREN'T crooked.

      But it's the abuse of these girls on the Russian team that makes me absolutely furious. They are disposable. They're starved to keep them light enough to do those jumps, they are even denied water during the competition because it will add to their weight. Poor Kamila Valieva is so emaciated that I can't imagine she's not damaging her bones and her organs. These girls are given drugs--Kamila is FIFTEEN!!! Their bodies and their health are ruined. It is cruel and inhumane treatment and should NOT be rewarded by the IOC. If something isn't done I think it will ruin skating, or at least the women's events.

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  9. I love the winter games and am enchanted and stunned by the extreme trick skiing and snowboarding.

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  10. We are not much for sport spectacle here, although we really enjoyed watching our own comeback kid Cincinnati Bengals try valiantly this past Sunday at Super Bowl 56. Mostly, the big money aspect turns both of us off, which is a shame for the athletes.

    I've known a couple women who have participated in Olympic time trials, and one who competed, both in long distance running in the early days. That was also before TV coverage was any good, and I also had a (black & white) TV smaller than most microwaves at the time. However, skaters like Dorothy Hamill sparked interest. I'm like Debs, and could never keep my ankles straight enough to skate, even on roller skates, but I do enjoy watching it, especially the ice dancing. Is Bolero the perfect skating music, or what?

    I also had the "wedge" inspired by Hamill. It was the beginning of the blow dry era, the line of demarcation between set, teased, sprayed helmets and easy, loose hairdos.

    And does anyone else think young Chris Dean looks like he could be a young Lee Child?

    The Olympics causes enormous waste, which bothers me a lot. When Sydney hosted the Summer Games they did a lot of things to keep the environmental impact down (no parking at all at the stadium, and every ticket included a train ride from Victoria Station, among other things), and I was hoping that would trend onwards, but it has not. Beijing's lack of snow for a winter sports event is a crime against nature. Again, all about money. Bah. Greed always seems to ruin something good and pure like athletic competition.

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    1. I agree, Karen: The environmental impact of the Olympics is a crime against nature.

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    2. KAREN: So true. The financial and environmental costs of hosting the Olympics is usually a big negative.

      Vancouver BC claims to be a green city but they did host the 2010 Winter Olympics. There were a few positives. The expanded Skytrain public transit system goes downtown and has been widely used by both residents and visitors since 2010. And the Olympic Village was turned into residential housing in a city that has the highest real estate prices in Canada.

      Having said that, I do have mixed feelings about Vancouver and 4 Indigenous groups being the IOC frontrunner for hosting the 2030 Winter Olympics.

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    3. I really kept up with all the building--and the controversy-- for the 2012 Summer Games in London, but I'm not sure how much use they'd made of the facilities since. I will have to check it out.

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    4. Grace: did you know that the proposal from the Indigenous Groups is that they become a permanent home to the games -- or at least a venue that is re-used regularly for the Games. It might work, as the IOC seems to have trouble finding venues these days. I remember back in the '70s, maybe, when Colorado held a public referendum to reject the Olympics and everyone thought we were nuts. Turns out, we weren't.

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    5. DEAUN: No, I had not heard that detail. You're right that the Olympics are becoming too costly for most cities. Most have dropped out of the bidding process, and is partly why Vancouver/Whistler is the apparent frontrunner for 2030.

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    6. Yes to the Lee Child resemblance!

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  11. The winter events are my jam! I could watch downhill skiing all year round. The speed, the daring, the power -- truly blows my mind. Imagine the rush, hurtling down a mountainside at 80 miles an hour while balancing on two planks.

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    1. I've thought the same thing watching the bobsled events! 75 miles per hour!

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  12. Oh dear, oh dear! I haven't been watching any of the Olympics and I really didn't know what you were tiptoeing around. But enough clues were given later that I did remember something I saw in the paper. So now I am outraged, too, wondering why such a thing was allowed. Are the authorities that afraid of Russia? Sounds a lot like another bully I've heard of whose people seem so afraid of doing anything that might upset him.

    But years ago I used to love the skating in particular. I remember we had gone to Florida for a vacation and all I could think of was what was I missing. Who can forget, those of us who are old enough, the Lake Placid Olympics of 1980? I wonder if our own Julia was there. I can still weep with joy over the hockey games.

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  13. I have not watched the Olympics at all. Give me a cuppa and a book. It's not that I'm not a fan, I love the skating and the skiing, and with summer Olympics I'm a huge fan of gymnastics, equestrian events, and swimming, but somehow, I never turn them on!

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  14. DEBS,

    Surprised that despite the pandemic that the Olympics is still happening. Fan of figure skating here.

    When I lost my hearing before I was two years old, my doctors were concerned that the hearing loss would affect my balance. They advised my parents to take me ice skating and they also recommended ballet lessons. When my parents were audited by the IRS, they brought me and a doctor's note explaining why these lessons were necessary because of my hearing loss and balance. It took me FOUR YEARS of holding on to the rails before I could skate on my own, so I totally get what you mean about being uncoordinated.

    Katie Couric used to have a hairstyle similar to the female ice skaters at the Olympics as I recall. I remember the cute haircuts on the iceskaters. The figure skating is the only Olympics winter sports that I would watch.

    Diana

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  15. I love the Olympics, both summer and winter. Since I'm convinced all sports are contaminated, I've stopped worrying about doping et al. It's mostly make believe but lots of fun to watch. And our local kid won a gold in aerial something!

    Since I get up early with the dogs, I'm watching a lot of it live on Peacock, something we subscribed to for the summer games and never cancelled.

    Yes to figure skating, definitely. Does anyone remember when that was actually measuring the ability to cut figures on ice? Like figure eights? Was very precise and slow. Or is this my imagination? Sticky synapses?

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    1. "Figures" used to be part of the competition. The skaters were required to show that they could draw figures in the ice. You were supposed to be able to spin on a point so that the mark on the ice was as perfect circle. I heard once that the Soviets insisted that it be included because their skaters were always very good at the technical stuff and it improved their scores enough for them to win. Figures haven't been part of the competition for a long time though.

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    2. ANN: Yes, compulsory figures was a significant portion of the scores at both Olympic (and World) individual figure skating events until the late 1980s. I remember the "Battle of the Brians" (Brian Boitano and Brian Orser) in Calgary 1988. Orser did not do well in the figures and had to battle back to win the silver medal by doing excellent short and long programs.

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  16. A friend warns everyone that during the days of the Olympics are days she is not available for dinner or lunch or other social activities. She does watch both summer and winter games and has been absent from social media for the past week. She hasn't even commented about women's skating - yet. I have been watching, always in awe of those who have the skill to pursue these activities.

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  17. Oh yes, the Winter Olympics are the best. So many different ways to have fun with snow and cold.

    In 1980 my then boyfriend, now husband, got tickets for ski jumping for the Lake Placid Olympics. We were students at SUNY ESF in Syracuse and took the train up to Lake Placid. We walked from the village out to the ski jumps, but some guys going out there as volunteers picked gave us a ride. We got right to the base of the jumps. Great views of the jumping, the interviews, etc.

    We saw Scott Hamilton hanging around being interviewed. When it was over we walked into town - now part of a crowd of cheerful spectators from around the world.

    I remember everyone was trading pins from around the world (we didn't have any) and I wonder if folks still do that. Those Olympics long had a reputation for being fun, welcoming, laid-back.

    The big story on the streets though was when Tai Babilonia and Randy Gardner had to withdraw from pairs figure skating because he was injured.

    That night we watched a medal ceremony where Eric Heiden got his fifth gold medal. We stood on Mirror Lake (frozen) and volunteers moved through the crowd checking for cracks in the ice.

    Now we live about an hour from Lake Placid and occasionally go to events there. We saw Apollo Ohno in short track speed skating. We saw Dorothy Hamill and others in Stars on Ice. We've watched bobsled and skeleton too.

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  18. The World Figure Skating Championships were to be in Montreal in the spring of 2020. I wanted to go because it was likely to be the only time I would get to see Yuzuru Hanyu skate in person. At $500/ticket we had already decided that I would have to make do with television before the Covid curtain came down. I was happy for Nathan Chen but it is the ones who can create a moment like Jason Brown and Hanyu that I will pay to watch in person. Maybe they will join the show circuit and I will get the chance.

    I did get to a Worlds the year they were held in London, Ontario. Seeing them in person is wild.
    You lose the panning perspective of the camera and the running commentary but you see the speed! Especially in Pairs. You can really see and feel the danger then. It is easier for me to watch Ice Dance on TV because you can see their feet and the shapes they make better. We saw Virtue and Moir do their Carmen routine and it lost a lot of the drama from 8 rows up in the arena. Perhaps the most interesting was the final skate of Una Kim. She did not smile throughout the entire competition but the free skate was sublime and made you want to cry.

    I first watched when Peggy Fleming skated in the '60s and I remember the dueling Carmens, the dueling Brians, Toller Cranston -- who was in London and is the only autograph that I own -- Torvill and Dean and pretty much all the rest. About the only jump I can recognize is an Axel but I would say that I was a fan.

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    1. I have been a big fan of all the Japanese skaters in these events, especially Shoma Uno, who I think is a joy to watch. The Japanese just seen to have a different artistry. And I was sorry that Hanyu didn't do as well.

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    2. DEAUN: Lucky you to be able to see a Worlds event in person.
      The 2022 National Figure Skating Competition was held in Ottawa in January but because of omicron, NO spectators were allowed.

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  19. I had a Dorothy Hamil haircut for years, but it never behaved the way hers did. It was so cool. The only sport I've watched this time out is the figure skating, and then only the reruns. Kamila Valieva is extraordinary. 15 years old! She skates like she's weightless.

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    1. Nobody's hair behaved like Dorothy Hamil's, Hallie!

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  20. We get terrible reception for our broadcast stations (no cable) and so I haven't seen any of the Olympics this year. I do love the Winter games, and I was an avid young fan of Dorothy Hamill - I got the haircut in high school!

    The last games I watched I became frustrated by the networks uneven coverage of the various sports. It seems there are three or four crowned "most important" and everything else gets five minutes or less. (As someone whose favorite summer Olympics sport are are the equestrian events, this gets old real fast.)

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  21. We usually enjoy the Winter Olympics, especially ski, snowboarding and skate events. NO HOCKEY! NO CURLING! (they are equally boring and senseless). However, the coverage by NBC has been pretty poor. Even with NBC, CNBC, USA and Peacock, they manage to overlap, repeat, skip and edit events. The “live coverage” that’s in a small screen alongside a commercial, with the commercial’s sound, is awful (insert your own negative term). Last night the same hockey game was on two channels while much skating was skipped.

    Speaking of which, it’s sad, angering, unfair and wrong that the IOC and International skating body back down to Russian arbitration and influence. It’s as if they’re saying “we’re going to dope and you can’t stop us”, which makes a mockery of international Olympic competition. NBC should be ashamed that they are not protesting in the strongest terms, including not showing ROC athletes in competition. When that cowardly ruling came down I decided to stop watching as of last night. Bah!

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    1. We don't watch much broadcast TV, so suffering through the commercials has been hard! And we watched the Superbowl, so that was a lot of ads for one week!

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  22. Yes, I love the skating, all of it. I go back farther then you with US ladies. I remember watching Carol Heiss win. Loved all the Sonja Henie movies when I was kid even though she wasn't an American skater.

    Now I'm also a curling fan. Love it. No clue why. Maybe because it is slow enough that I can totally see what is going on.

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    1. Pat, I remember having lunch at Dunn's in Montreal with my husband and then teenage children. Curling was on TV, and though we might not have chosen to watch, we enjoyed it. The strategizing, the tension combined with the serene pace - and no doping scandals. It was fun to watch.

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    2. The Russian mixed doubles curling team was disqualified for a positive doping test at the last Olympics. sigh. Curling is a great game though it isn't as accessible as other sports. Good commentators are helpful!

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    3. They needed drugs for curling?!!!

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  23. Sadly, my deadlines have forced me to just catch the highlights, but I do love the Olympics so much! Back to work!

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  24. Ah, Jonathan is watching everything, and I am..working. I watched Torvill and Dean the other day, again, in fact, because I was so incensed that the Russian ice dangers chose Bolero. Bolero is TAKEN, and I vote it should be forever prohibited for any skaters but T and D. Back to work! xx

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  25. I’m a huge sports fan watch everything. I used to skate and even did some ice dancing so I appreciate what they do. I only feel sympathy for the young Russians. At 15 you have no control over what medications you are fed. But her team and the zRusfian sports program should be punished! She takes 3 heart medications? All of which give her more oxygen and endurance. Shame on them

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    1. I know. Her anguish when she came off the ice last night was heartbreaking.

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  26. I've followed figure skating since Peggy Fleming at least. I enjoyed the men's and ice dancing but this mess with Kamila is awful. That the Russians doped a little kid and still are forcing her to skate. She looks very upset. The IOC should never have let that happen. It will backfire on the Russians because now all of their athletes are under suspicion even the innocent. Eventually the truth will come out, and medals will be taken away.

    Have just one or two cities permanently host the Olympics would be a good idea with other countries contributing to the cost. Not China or Russia, though. To be fair, probably not the U.S. either.

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  27. Work is preventing me from watching this year. So happy to see so many share my love for the Winter Olympics!

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  28. I looovveee figure skating and grew up idolizing Kristi Yamagucci and adoring Michelle Kwan! I loved Stars on Ice in the 90s and saw it almost ever year in the early 2000s. I'm on the fence about going to see it this year. Ticket prices are higher than the last time I went and the cheapest seats are in the corner which is OK but not ideal. Jason Brown is divine and I'd love to see him in person. I love Yuzuru Hanu too. Nathan Chen is not my cup of tea but he is insanely athletic. Karen Chen is lovely and reminiscient of Kristi and Michelle. I adore Mariah Bell for her gorgeous presentation and huge smile. The ice dancers were all my favorite and I was hoping for a North American sweep but do adore Gabby and Guillaume. In pairs, I was pleased at how well both American teams skated. I was impressed Ashley Cain-Gribble did so well on a sprained ankle and ligaments! Sui and Han had all the heart the Russians lacked! I stood up and clapped.

    I feel sorry for the Russian troika of young ladies. I've long been an advocate for an older age limit and never liked the coach even though her girls are so so good! The Russians have always cheated at figure skating even after the judging system was changed. I don't know why anyone is surprised or why the president of the IOC is only just NOW concerned about the treatment of the young Russian athletes when the same coach has coached the last two Olympic champions who both retired due to injuries the following year. The only survivor from previous Olympic cycles in Russian ladies skating is Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, a 25 year old woman with a triple axel in her arsenal. She's smart enough to train with a different coach.

    If you don't like the TV coverage, go to the livestreams online. I'm doing a hybrid. If they don't show someone on TV, I turn on the NBC Olympics livestream on their website. I heard Tokyo's streaming was terrible but this one has been OK- a little shaky when I cast it to the TV but fine on the tablet or laptop.

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