Friday, February 24, 2006

A Deserved Gold

On Thursday night, a graceful display of perfection took place in Turino, Italy. On Tuesday of this week, during the woman's short program for figure skating Shizuka Arakawa, a leader of Japan's female figure skating team, completed her program, walked over off the ice, saw her scores and left. She did not display the business-like attitude of Russia's Irina Slutskava or the self-motivated attitude that America's Sasha Cohen continually muttered to herself. Rather, there was a void of attitude all together.

After the short program on Tuesday night Arakawa was third behind Slutskava and Cohen. After the first two groups went, Cohen skated. She fell, twice. Hamilton and Co. speaking optimistically five minutes previous were reduced to state the obvious. Once again, Cohen had choked. Then Arakawa put her brilliant spins on display and finished a flawless program. The commentary mentioned none of this only cautiousness; giddy expectancy for Slutskava claiming the gold the undertune to every word uttered. When Irina Slutskava took the ice she had truly a golden opportunity, but a sub-par skate, that included a fall, left her with the bronze and shell-shock.

A fan of Olympic skating since boyhood, I was continually confused by the analysis of the new scoring, and would have preferred to mute the commentary of Dick Button, Scott Hamilton, et., al, if not for wanting to listen to the music that accompanied the skaters. What I was most upset about was the lack of constructive i.e. positive commentary on the woman who won the Gold, gave Japan its first gold medal in the games, and Japan's first for the sport. There was no documentary before she skated or after she had won. There was no interview, which I would have at least expected, and the news in today's papers make the win seem more like a gift than hard work. This is more than unfortunate. It poorly serves the Olympic tradition and American tradition for loving hard-won victories. Maybe the reason is because Arakawa's skate in its flawlessness, though deserving of commentary, hide the hard work. I would hope this is the reason. Arakawa made the win look easy, which it was not, and in doing so has shown how an ideal Olympian should be.

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