Friday, February 19, 2010

The Weeping, The Pink Tassel, The Ersatz Russian

I have pretty much zero knowledge of technical skating, but I think I can spot a crazy artist when I see one. I love the Olympics and I love watching individuals compete. Team sports leave me cold. I guess I should clarify and say "professional team sports leave me cold". I made a pretty solid blanket decision that I am pretty much completely disinterested in any activity or institution in which I would never be welcome to participate (except in a cheering capacity*).

Back to the Olympics, or specifically, figure skating. Actually, the much mocked men's figure skating. The American who won the gold seems like a very nice and gracious man. He is clearly very talented and apparently almost preternaturally hard working. Thankfully, the days when the US men figure skaters felt they had to butch up are pretty much gone - it was always kind of a losing battle anyway, so lots went for "boyish". The two American contenders were in full flamboyant glory. Evan Lysicek, the winner of the gold, dressed like Hamlet for both programs (once with feathers, once with silver snakes). It was like he had stepped straight out of the Ballet Russes in its Parisian glory days. Obviously, he's a very, very good skater. But he's not an artist. Really.

I don't even know what to say about Johnny Weir's long program that doesn't sound cliché. It was an absolutely heartfelt triumph of popular entertainment. He skated like Callas singing until her voice was in tatters, like a ballerina in red shoes leaping in front of a train, like Jackson Pollack bleeding on the canvas. It was so completely over the top. I don't know exactly what he was saying through skate, but he really, really meant it and said it well. At the end of his program he collapsed on the ice in tears. The audience jumped to its feet en masse. And he didn't even place.

(photo via

1 comment:


Love so much I see here, but I gotta say, "The Weeping, The Pink Tassel, The Ersatz Russian" has me genuflecting your way forevermore.