Wednesday, February 5, 2014

excited for olympic greatness

Quick confession: I'm not a sports fan.

Except for a few sports like figure skating, gymnastics, swimming, synchronized swimming and maybe a little tennis (only because my dad and brothers played), I am not one to follow state sports teams.

Ten or so years ago when I moved to the US and heard about the "Superbowl", I would have been inclined to ask if that's a special kind of serveware. Sacrilegious, I know. And fast forward 10 years to now, I still don't quite understand football - and with all honesty, really have no desire to. If I had said that at a Superbowl party last weekend I might have gotten pelleted with hot wings or pretzels.

But... when it comes to the Winter Olympics, you'll probably find me glued to the TV with a bowl of popcorn, nervously chewing on my fingernails.

Particularly because I am looking forward to watching the return of these Olympic greats...

Yuna Kim, 2010 Olympics figure skating gold medalist

I somewhat lost interest in watching figure skating after Michelle Kwan stopped competing. I still watch her Tosca LP from 2004 every now and then when I want a little trip down figure skating memory lane. Then Yuna Kim came into the scene, redefining figure skating greatness.

Yuna's 2009 short program, Danse Macabre, one of my favorite figure skating programs:

The fire and passion in this skate, combined with technical precision and artistic expression... just incredible. And unique choreography that allows her to showcase her skills and artistry - I love how every movement is intentional, including how she moves her head and arms with the music. What's even more impressive is the maturity in her skate - she was only 18. This was pre-Vancouver Olympics, but you could already tell from this skate that she was bound for an Olympic medal. I'm neither a skater (I'm clumsy enough in flat shoes on regular flooring) nor a professional skating critic by any means, but her Danse Macabre in my opinion is one of her best.

And of course who can forget her sassy "Bond Girl" short program of the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver:

So much personality in this skate, along with the usual complex choreography, transitions, and difficult jump combinations that you've come to expect from her. Her speed going into the jumps, and the distance she covers in her triple-triple jump combination is amazing. This New York Times interactive article shows how she covers 25 FEET from takeoff to landing in her triple-triple.

And the brilliance of her Gershwin long program:

It just leaves you speechless. Such elegant skating, and she made it look so effortless. She broke her own personal best and made world records in both her short and long programs.

I love what her coach (at the time), Brian Orser - himself an Olympic silver medalist - said to her at the Olympics: "Appreciate the space we're in. Pressure is a privilege." Now that's Olympic gold-medal attitude.

Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, 2010 Olympics ice dancing gold medalists

Sigh. These two are just captivating, with their grace, daring acrobatic moves, and on-ice chemistry.

Here's their Flamenco OD from Vancouver:

Flamenco is a complicated enough dance as it is, but to do it on figure skating blades on ice is another story. Virtue and Moir express it so beautifully here with the lines and shapes they create with their movements, without giving up the fiery intensity of the flamenco.

Tango Romantica CD, Vancouver:

And their gold-medal-clinching FD to Mahler's Symphony No. 5, also from Vancouver. I was in tears after watching this.

I read that before they compete, they hug and synchronize their breath. How sweet is that.

What's really remarkable is that Virtue was in great pain during the Olympics due to recurring problems in her shins (for which she needed surgery).

Do I sound like a groupie yet?

I think what lures me to watching these events is being able to witness art in the human form and in movement. It's just amazing to watch these competitors express their craft of combining art and athleticism - and the kind of mindset it takes to get to that level of excellence. It's the kind of experience that gives me goosebumps - in a good way. And I think we all need that in our lives.

Counting down to Sochi!

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