Wednesday, February 24, 2010

I have to admit, I was hoping for a scandal. Some nice juicy scandal in the Olympic pairs figure skating competition--something that would keep people talking about pairs skaters for the next few months, so when my novel Delta Girls (which features an Olympics hopeful pairs skater) comes out in June, people would be hungry for more tales of skaterly scandal. Alas, the skaters behaved themselves; the gold medalists were a sweet married couple from China who now plan to have a baby, and while the woman from one of the American pairs teams is dating the man from the other pair, there is nothing scandalous about their situation.

The men offered a bit of drama--a broken lace in the middle of a routine, a slightly diva-ish rant from silver medalist Evgeni Plushenko about how if someone can win the Olympics without a quad, it's "not men's figure skating. It is dance." And of course the ice dancers from Russia brought loads of controversy with their outrageously offensive, culturally insensitive "aboriginal" routine and their use of ropes to aid their lifts in their free dance, but that wasn't the sort of newsmaking scandal I was hoping for. (An aside--ice dancing has gotten so much more interesting, hasn't it? When I was a competitive figure skater, I turned up my nose at ice dancing--it seemed so boring to me without the big jumps and throws, etc.--but I'm digging it now. White and Davis' Bollywood routine knocked my socks off.)

By the time the women's figure skating rolled around, though, I was no longer hoping for a scandal. I was just rooting for Joannie Rochette, the Canadian skater whose mother died unexpectedly on Sunday. I think about myself two days after getting the news of my mom's death--I felt like a skinned creature, all my nerves exposed to the wind--and can't imagine how she was able to perform with such poise and grace and courage under the circumstances. When she finished her passionate, assured program and flung her arms open, surrendering to tears, I wept, myself. I hope that when the shock of the news fades, when the adrenalin rush of the Olympics is over, when Rochette has time to face her loss head on--cold and stark as any span of ice--the memory of her performance, and the way the crowd embraced her, will be a balm.


Brian said...

Oh Gayle, how I love reading you.

"...nerves exposed to the wind..." literally gave me a chill.

Let us hope it is a balm for Joannie.

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Lakin said...

Yeah, the Ice Dancing was far more spectacular than any previous Olympics. I loved White and Davis' Bollywood dance, too; it had an authenticity built from respect and study. A very impressive transfer to ice, I thought. And I was mesmerized by Lysacek's performance. wow.

And in this piece here, I love how you have moved from the worldly desires of scandals and fortune to the deep emotion of loss and courage. I can't imagine doing what Joannie Rochette did either; I hope, as you do, that the performance will either transmute or re-write her experience of loss to something a bit more easeful.

Donna said...

Anyone who has experienced a loss like yours or Joanie's will recognize that feeling like "a skinned creature."

I love Olympic ice skating, too, and look forward to your new book. I'm already planning to send a copy to Audrey, an ice skater who was my daughter's best friend.